Sunday, August 30, 2009

Around the AL at the Quarter Pole

Notes and musings from our AL reporter Hugo First about what he's seen over the first 41 games:

- Who's been the best team so far? Hard to say. Seattle, St. Louis, and Jackson all lead their division at 26-15. If I had to pick one so far, I'd take Seattle, with the other two not far behind. All three are playing quality ball and I don't see any reason they can't keep it up.

- Quite a few surprise teams in the AL thus far; Syracuse, Oklahoma City, Buffalo, and New York are all above .500 and the last three would make the playoffs if they started today. I'm not sure these teams can keep it up, but if Jay Guiel and Heath Caufield continue to pitch at a Cy-Young candidate level, maybe OKC can stay in the race until the end.

- Monterrey would have to be the biggest disappointment. They're 16-25, ten games back of Jackson. Just let me throw some starters' ERAs at you: Albert Gonzalez, 5.75; Johnnie Reagan, 5.70; Jocko Keats, 6.89; Luther Brush, 7.33. Need I say more?

- Boston is on pace to score 988 runs, so if they keep this pace up, they could threaten 1000 runs. Unfortunately, they're on pace to give up over 1000 (1027, to be exact).

- Louisville is below .500, but I still think they're the best team in that division and they'll be on top when it's all said and done.

- Milwaukee has been much better as of late, winning 12 of their last 18 to get back above .500. They're still a threat to win another AL North title.

- From the "Who would have picked it before the season started?" department, the top three teams in terms of team ERA: Oklahoma City, Seattle, Anaheim. If I had to predict before the season, I'd probably get 1 out of 3.

- Charlotte is the worst team in the league so far at 13-28, or a winning percentage of .317. Their expected winning percentage based on runs scored and allowed: .316.

- Luis Martinez of Milwaukee is the first quarter MVP, although it doesn't look like he's a threat to go 40-40 again, as he hasn't stolen a base in his last 17 games.

- Graham Costello of Milwaukee would get the Cy Young if it was handed out today, although he'd have fairly good competition. He's 5-0 with a 2.01 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. But the most impressive stat- 56 strikeouts and only 5 walks: a ratio of 11.2 to 1. By comparison, the two guys behind him in ERA (the aforementioned Caufield and Anaheim's Andy Ramsey) both have K/BB ratios of less than 2 to 1.

- New York's Mateo James has struck out 56 times already, which puts him on pace for 221 for the season (which would beat the ML record of 191 by a wide margin). What's more impressive about this is that he's done it in only 139 ABs, which means that for every 5 at-bats, he strikes out twice. Scranton's Chief Pearson has struck out 49 times, which also puts him on pace for more than 191.

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