MLB Hot Starts: Buy or Sell?
At long last, we’ve finally been blessed with regular season MLB action (a whole week of it actually). We as fans are now officially in “small-sample-size” season.
These days everyone is looking for a hot take or something to instantly infer the second a game ends. This especially applies to baseball, where after the first week of the season we’ve still got 150+ more games to go until the playoffs.
Getting too low or way too high on teams or players based on a handful of first-week games is a dangerous notion; however, the first showings of the year are still worth taking note of. While we’re likely not seeing a Mariners-Mets World Series matchup, spearheaded by MVP’s Tim Beckham & Wilson Ramos, we do have some early ideas as to whose hot start to buy & who’s to pump the brakes on.
All stats through 4/3/19
Bryce Harper – PHI (.500/.652/1.188 with 3 HR’s): Buy
Is Bryce Harper going to keep hitting better than even the best Create-A-Player from MVP Baseball 2004? Probably not. But, this hot start is a sign of good things to come and a return to form from his MVP year.
No free agency looming over his head, and a stacked lineup on a completive team in an awesome hitters’ park? Yeah, seems legit. He’s looked comfortable early (comfortable enough to make his presence felt at his old stomping grounds in Washington) and should continue throughout the year.
Baltimore Orioles (4-2, 1 GB in AL East): Sell
Frankly, I wasn’t sure the O’s would win four games the entire month of April, so tip of the cap to them for playing .667 ball one week in. Alas, I still think they’re a shoo-in for the #1 pick in next year’s draft, so no, despite some wins against the Yankees I think the O’s still stink.
(Chris Davis is 0-14 & making $23,000,000 this year. You can’t even make a “makes thi much money per hit” joke).
Minnesota Twins (4-1, 1st Place in AL Central): Buy
The Indians have had such an extended lease on 1st in the AL Central that they’ve completely re-decorated and painted the 1st place penthouse a completely different color.
In the first week of the season the Twins have moved in and torn down those ugly curtains. They opened the season taking 2/3 from the Indians then following that up with a two game sweep of the Royals. An .800 winning percentage surely won’t keep up, but a chance at holding the Central definitely looks promising, especially with more bad Francisco Lindor news popping up for Cleveland.
Tim Beckham – SEA (.379/.471/.739, 3 HR’s): Sell
If you hopped in a time machine back to 2008 and told a baseball fan that Tim Beckham was one of the best players in the first week (a little more for him since he played in the Japan series a couple weeks ago) they’d probably nod and think that makes sense.
This is because they won’t have the last 10+ years of the former #1 pick’s career to dissuade them from thinking he might not be a superstar in 2019. However, we do, so despite Beckham’s torrid start, his career .255/.308/.432 line, combined with moving to Safeco T-Mobile suggests a regression to the mean sooner rather than later. Maybe a career year is coming though, as Beckham is still only 29. No matter how the rest of the season turns out, he’s still got a case for best bat-flip combo of the year.
Domingo Santana – SEA (.303/.410/.636 with 3 HR’s): Buy
He’s freeeeee! Two years ago for the Brewers, a 24 year old Domingo Santana played in 151 games, drilled 30 homers, and got on-base at a .371 clip.
Last year he got lost in the Brewers’ OF shuffle, only played in 85 games, and his numbers predictably dipped. Free from constraints and with a clear path to playing time in Seattle, he’s made up for lost time by raking in the first week of the season. .303/.410 is probably a stretch for how his season will play, but I think he’s headed to a season much closer to his 2017 clip than last year.
Bonus Cold Start:
Houston Astros (2-5, 4.5 GB in AL West): Sell
As Aaron Rodgers once said “relax.” I picked the ‘Stros to make it to the World Series and I’m sticking with it. After all, how much does a week really mean?
By Kyle Bandujo