May 1st Check-in: OMG Standings are upside-down!
The American League standings look fairly normal to this point; the Rays and Yankees are good, the Twins are going to win the AL Central (though Detroit is frisky), and the AL West is a mess. Boston struggling out of the gate is a surprise, as they’ve had a middle-of-the-pack offense and bad pitching and, as a result, are 11-14 right now. The National League Central looks about right also, with the Cardinals establishing themselves as the class of the division. In the NL East and West, things look funny; this post (and the next) is an attempt to figure why and whether it can be sustained.
Here are the current NL East standings:
As seen above, the Mets are giving up only 3.46 runs per game. They are 3rd in strikeouts per nine innings, last in walks per nine innings, and give up the second fewest home runs per nine innings. They are stranding 78% of runners that reach base; as a result, they are currently 3rd in ERA. The starters have pitched well; only John Maine has given up more than one home run, but they are walking at least 3 hitters per nine innings. Oliver Perez’s K/BB ratio is bad news, and the top three strand rates are too high to sustain. The rates for the bullpen pretty much mirror the rotation’s.
The only other thought I had was that maybe their defense has been really good so far. The starters have only given up three unearned runs in a month, which is pretty good. UZR is unreliable in small sample sizes, but it doesn’t appear that is the reason for the excellent run prevention. They do have some good defenders, but overall, I would expect more runs to start beings scored against the Mets. They’ve also had the benefit of a schedule that wasn’t full of juggernauts.
Washington has also been pretty good, but their pitchers have been bad and their hitters have been average and it has mostly been luck. The Braves on the other hand have had fairly good pitching but have hit with toothpicks for the first month. Jason Heyward has been their best hitter, and Martin Prado is the only hitter worth nothing right now. They are striking out far too much and not hitting for any power. Given their issues, they are only 3 behind Philadelphia; however, we’re a month in and the Atlanta bats are not getting it done.
Part 2 about the NL West is coming soon…