Well, the amateur draftees are up, so that means we're a quarter into our new season. As always, there are big surprises around the league...here are 12 of the biggest:
#1 - Chicago Capone's: projected to be a 78-win (.481) also ran by Top's spreadsheet, the Capones have ridden a blistering offense (224 runs - 2nd in AL) to a 25-17 (.595) start. Free agent pickup Vladimir Henriquez has been a rock, hitting .285 and leading the team with 15 HR and 43 RBI; and RF Addison Oropesa has himself in the middle of the ROY race with a .316/8/24 line.
#2 - Salt Lake City managing to play .420 ball with 20 on the ML roster and no catchers. It's impressive, but palet, come on.
#3 - Santa Fe leading the NL South with a $19.9 MM payroll and their best pitcher (Juan Martinez) posting a 5.13 ERA. We knew there was young talent here, but their rookie brigade of Trace Clark (.345/13/40), Carlton Nieve (.292/11/26) and Willie Tepera (4-0, 2.82 ERA) has come through with flying colors. Plus, 3B Miguel Polonia is OPSing a full 200 points above his career average (.956 vs. .755).
#4 - Kansas City limping along at 18-24. Both dakar's preview and top's ss saw them winning 101. Certainly not too late to turn it around. The hitting's been good enough with 200 runs scored (5th), but their pitching has fallen off a cliff with a 4.54 ERA (13th).
#5 - Boise's Jordany Ontiveros leading the AL with 18 jacks. Guys like Ontiveros rarely have extended runs of success. Enjoy the streak.
#6 - The NY Sewer Gators pitching leading the NL with a 3.56 ERA. We expected Joe Johnson to be good (and he has been: 3-2, 2.09). And Don Bagley, Dillon Mays and Ramiro Lira are all bettering their career ERA marks by .77 runs per game or better. Nice. Now, about those 137 runs scored.
#7 - Louisville firing blanks at 15-27 (.357). Both the preview and top's ss saw around 88-89 wins. What's up? Hasegawa started slowly but has since picked his OPS up to .878, and Gonzalez picked up where he left off last year with .307/18/39. But the 5.75 team ERA tops only lowly Salt Lake.
#8 - Santa Cruz pushing Vegas in the AL West at 23-19 (.548) while allowing more runs (180) than they've scored (172). So they've been a little lucky. One would expect a pretty good record in 1-run games, but in that regard they've actually been unlucky (6-7).
#9 - Florida's CF Terry Sears among the AL OPS leaders at .967 (career .740).
#10 - San Francisco leading the NL West at 25-17 (.595). Not a huge surprise, as top's ss and the preview could both see a lot of improvement. And they certainly haven't put away the competition - Scottsdale and Salem are both right on their heels in what promises to be an interesting race. 1B Harvey Tracy's 1.093-OPS start (in San Fran) may be more impressive than Trace Clark's 1.227 (in Santa Fe).
#11 - Strange relief-dominant pitching strategies pacing the AL charts. Huntington (2.76 ERA - 1st) has used relievers (Roger Harvey and Mark Martin) to start almost half their games, and New Orleans (3.27 ERA - 2nd) has used Jack Allensworth and 2 journeymen SP's to go 3 innings and finished with their talented 'pen in almost all theirs.
#12 - Huntington's Roger Harvey. Last 5 seasons' ERA's: 5.40, 5.62, 4.31, 5.34, and 4.70. This year: 0.72, with a ridiculous under-.400 OPS-against.