Major League Roundup

The Tigers and Reds are in first place. The Yankees, Phillies, and Cubs are out of the playoff picture. Victor Zambrano and Paul Wilson are leading Cy Young candidates. Alex Rodriguez is hitting .172 and Bubba Crosby is outperforming him. We're either in Bizzaro World or it is the first week of the season. Either way, it's a lot of fun because BASEBALL IS BACK! Take a look at what's up with each Major League team through an exciting first week of action.

Anaheim Angels: (Record: 4-2)
After a lackluster spring in which he posted a 5.16 ERA, Bartolo Colon has begun the regular season on fire. In two starts, Colon has faced two AL West foes in the Mariners and Rangers and has shut both down. Colon is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA through 14 innings. He has walked just one batter compared to 10 strikeouts. Kelvim Escobar also had a strong start, allowing just one run in six innings. In order for the Angels to live up to the high expectations placed on them, Escobar and Colon must continue to post impressive starts.

Baltimore Orioles: (Record: 3-4)
Sidney Ponson, like Bartolo Colon, had a disappointing spring but has shown improvement in his two starts in the regular season. Ponson is 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA spanning 12.1 innings. He has managed to pitch out of multiple self-inflicted jams, striking out just six and walked an alarmingly high number of batters, eight, thus far. If he is unable to improve his K/BB rate, there is no way he will be able to maintain a solid ERA.

Boston Red Sox: (Record: 4-3)
Pedro Martinez is another player who had a disappointing spring but has shown improvement during the regular season. After posting a 6.75 ERA in March, Martinez has shown that he still is one of, if not the best pitcher in baseball. Martinez is 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA in 13.2 innings. He has allowed 11 hits including two home runs, walked three and struck out 12. He remains a seven-inning pitcher, but generally you won't get a better seven from anyone else.

Chicago White Sox: (Record: 3-3)
During the off-season, Magglio Ordonez was in the center of countless trade rumors. In fact, he was traded to Boston in the Alex Rodriguez trade scenario but that deal got nixed. Despite the still present rumors, Ordonez continues to hit. In 25 at-bats, he has already slugged three homers and has driven in 10. He is one of the most consistent hitters in the game and will continue to be so no matter where he plays out this season.

Cleveland Indians: (Record: 2-5)
After an impressive but inconsistent spring, Travis Hafner continued to showcase his powerful bat. Hafner has three homers and three doubles in 22 at-bats leading to a .955 slugging percentage. Those hitting around Hafner in the batting order have not been quite as impressive. Hafner has just five RBI and five runs, three of each thanks to no one but himself and his three home runs. Hafner won't be able to keep up this pace but if the Indians don't take advantage of it, it won't matter.

Detroit Tigers: (Record: 5-1)
Raise your hand if you thought the Tigers would be tied for the best record in baseball after the first week of the season. Now put your hand down if you are a Tigers fan. I'm sure your hand is not in the air. There has been no one member of the Tigers responsible for this fast start; it has been a team effort. The team as a whole is hitting .291 with 10 home runs and has averaged seven runs per game. The pitching has not been as strong as the offense but with a 4.42 ERA, it has been solid. It is unreasonable to think the Tigers can contend in the AL Central but don't be surprised to see them challenge the .500 mark.

Kansas City Royals: (Record: 4-2)
After hitting .323 in spring, the 2003 AL Rookie of the Year Angel Berroa has gotten off to a slow start. Through 23 at-bats, he has just four hits for a .174 batting average. As pitchers adjust to Berroa, he may have trouble repeating his outstanding 2003 season. However, If he can make adjustments of his own he can post a solid year and remain one of the better shortstops in the league.

Minnesota Twins: (Record: 3-3)
Injuries have already struck the Twins in a significant way. All-Star/Gold Glove winning center fielder Torii Hunter will miss two to four weeks with a strained hamstring. Rookie catcher Joe Mauer will miss around four weeks following surgery on his left knee. Matt LeCroy will miss two to three weeks with a strained oblique muscle and Johan Santana is experiencing some arm problems. These early problems could lead to a troublesome year for the Twins if they are unable to remain in contention until everyone is healthy.

New York Yankees: (Record: 4-4)
The $200 million Yankees are lucky to be 4-4. The team has not performed well with the exception of two or three players. They are hitting just .208 but thanks to the 10 home runs, they are averaging four-and-a-half runs per game. The pitching has combined to post a 5.01 ERA which would be much worse if not for two newly acquired pitchers, Javier Vazquez and Kevin Brown. The two have combined to go 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in 22 innings. If the two can maintain a level close to this, the Yankees will be as dangerous a team as was expected when the rest of the team comes around.

Oakland Athletics: (Record: 4-2)
Many have placed the A's potential success firmly on the shoulders of Arthur Rhodes. It is believed that as he goes, so do the A's. Thus far, the results have been more positive than negative. He has had four save opportunities in the first week, converting the first three. The sample size is too small to guess which Rhodes we'll see in the future, but the A's certainly hope it is the successful one.

Seattle Mariners: (Record: 1-5)
Any Mariners fan you ask will tell you what the team needed to do during the off-season; get a "big bat." The Mariners failed to do so, instead going for depth on the offense. That method has shown some early success, allowing the Mariners to score nearly five runs per game. However, the "big bat" is clearly lacking. The team is tied for last in baseball in home runs with two, both coming from Bret Boone. If a power threat isn't acquired and the team is forced to piece together base hits to score runs, it could be a difficult and streaky offensive season.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: (Record: 4-3)
Carl Crawford has gotten off to the fastest start in the American League, literally. Crawford leads the league with six stolen bases in 26 at-bats. He has not only done a good job of taking advantage of his on-base situations, but has done well to simply get on base. He is hitting .308 with a .357 on-base percentage and has only struck out three times. As the leadoff hitter for the Devil Rays, Crawford sets the whole offense in motion and his quick start has allowed the team to average over five runs per game thus far.

Texas Rangers: (Record: 3-3)
Hank Blalock and Mark Teixeira combine to form one of the best young offensive combinations in baseball. Already this season they have two home runs each, scored a combined 10 runs, and have driven in 13 runs. Their averages are nearly identical as well. Both are hitting over .300 with a .407 OBP and a slugging percentage higher than .650. These two will give Texas a great deal of offensive production for years to come.

Toronto Blue Jays: (Record: 1-5)
Roy Halladay is at it again. In 2003 he was 0-2 with a 4.89 ERA through six starts before going on to win 11-consecutive starts and 15 consecutive decisions. This season is no different. Halladay is 0-2 with a 5.93 ERA through two starts. If this is any other pitcher, the Blue Jays might have a reason to be concerned. With Roy Halladay, its just the norm.

Arizona Diamondbacks: (Record: 2-4)
The Diamondbacks acquired Richie Sexson this off-season to help give the offense a boost. Thus far he has boosted their power numbers with two home runs, but the team is hitting just .237 with a .305 on-base percentage. The pitching has not been much better, posting a 6.75 ERA. The D-Backs go in to Colorado for a series this week so the offense may be able to get on track, but the pitching could get even uglier.

Atlanta Braves: (Record: 3-3)
After exploding onto the scene in 2003, Marcus Giles has been greatly hyped up and some expect him to outperform last season. So far he has lived up to the hype, hitting .483 in 29 at-bats. Just two of his 14 hits have been for extra bases but he has helped fix that by adding three stolen bases. If Giles can at least repeat his 2003 and J.D. Drew can remain healthy, the Braves can contend for yet another NL East title.

Chicago Cubs: (Record: 3-3)
With Mark Prior out until at least mid-May, Kerry Wood is doing his best to claim the title as ace of the Cubs' rotation. Wood is 2-0 with a 3.75 ERA. In 12 innings he has allowed 10 hits and six walks but has countered the excess baserunners with 17 strikeouts. Until Prior returns, Wood is the ace in Chicago. But if he is unable to hold that title with Prior ahead of him, it isn't too bad being second only to arguably the best pitcher in the league.

Cincinnati Reds: (Record: 4-2)
In a surprise second only to the Tigers' 5-1 record, the Reds are third in baseball in team ERA at 2.35. The bullpen has combined to allow just 1 earned run in 18.2 innings. It is doubtful that the Reds will be able to maintain an ERA within two runs of their current 2.35 mark, but if they are able to do that while maintaining their offensive explosiveness, they could be the surprise team of the year.

Colorado Rockies: (Record: 2-4)
Charles Johnson came into the season with a tweaked approach at the plate and after a strong spring, he is still impressing in the regular season. In 15 at-bats, Johnson is hitting .400 with three home runs and two doubles. If he can remain healthy, he may approach the success he saw in 2000. If he misses time, the Rockies shouldn't suffer much with Todd Greene replacing him. Greene is 5-for-10 with a homer. He has never been given the opportunity to play every day but has always shown plus power since his days in the minors. If he gets some playing time he could also have a big year in Colorado.

Florida Marlins: (Record: 5-1)
The defending World Series champions could not have asked for a better start. Not only are they tied with the Tigers for the best record in baseball, but their pitching leads the league with a 1.83 ERA. Leading the way is none other than Josh Beckett. The World Series hero is 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA through two starts. In 14 innings he has allowed just six hits and leads the league with 20 strikeouts. It will be a tough task to repeat as champions, but the Marlins have the talent to do so.

Houston Astros: (Record: 3-3)
Roger Clemens made his first start as an Astro on April 7 against the Giants and Barry Bonds. Clemens was extremely impressive in that start, allowing just one hit and three walks in seven innings. He struck out nine batters, including Bonds twice. Clemens may be 41 years old but on that night he appeared to be closer to 21. If the Astros are to contend in the tough NL Central, they will need to see more similar outings from Clemens.

Los Angeles Dodgers: (Record: 4-2)
Adrian Beltre has never been able to live up to the hype placed on him. He has been more of a solid regular than the all-star everyone expected him to be. Amazingly, he is in his seventh year in the majors and he is just 25. After a strong spring in which he hit .321 with three home runs, he could be ready to take the next step. In 23 regular season at-bats he is hitting .478 with three home runs and eight RBI. Combine the acquisition of Milton Bradley, the expected rebound of Shawn Green and the potentially great year from Adrian Beltre and the Dodgers are looking like a very dangerous team.

Milwaukee Brewers: (Record: 4-3)
After a disappointing spring in which he posted a 7.86 ERA, Ben Sheets has shown why he is the Brewers' ace. The 25-year old is 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in two starts. In 9.1 innings, he has struck out 13 and has allowed 12 baserunners. The Brewers won't compete this year and probably not next year, but combine their outstanding farm system with the young talent they have in the majors and they will definitely be a threat in the coming years.

Montreal Expos: (Record: 2-4)
Even after losing Vladimir Guerrero to free agency and Javier Vazquez to the Yankees, the Expos still have the talent to be a competitive team. Early in the season, their pitching has been very impressive but their offense has been very depressing. They are second in the league with a 2.33 ERA but last in the league with only 10 runs scored and a .198 average. Neither is expected to hold where it is even though they would love to see the pitching continue at its current rate.

New York Mets: (Record: 3-3)
A disappointing 2003 had some questioning Tom Glavine's ability to still pitch effectively at his age. Following a strong spring in which he posted a 2.65 ERA, Glavine has continued to show that he still has what it takes to be a solid pitcher. In two starts covering 13 innings, Glavine is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA. He has struck out just three but has only allowed 11 baserunners. If Glavine is able to turn his start into a bounce-back year, he could provide the Mets with a boost allowing them to compete in the NL East.

Philadelphia Phillies: (Record: 1-5)
The Phillies entered the season as the favorites to win the NL East and competitors for the NL Championship. After a slow start, some of the optimism is starting to fade. Through six games the team is hitting just .220 with two home runs and 16 total runs scored. The pitching has lived up to its potential thus far however. They have a 4.19 ERA and that generally would be good enough to win with their offensive potential. Look for the Phillies to get going soon and with a hot streak or two, regaining control in the NL East.

Pittsburgh Pirates: (Record: 3-3)
Kip Wells is one of the more unheralded pitchers in baseball. Thanks in part to his run support and bullpen in Pittsburgh, he only won 10 games in 2003 despite a 3.28 ERA. With a little luck, Wells could be a 20-game winner as soon as this year. Through 12 innings he has a 1.50 ERA and has struck out 14. Remember Wells because if he can catch a break he can win some awards.

San Diego Padres: (Record: 3-3)
Roger Clemens is not the only former Yankee to be impressive in his first start with his new team. David Wells matched Clemens by throwing seven shutout innings in a start against Bonds and the Giants. Wells allowed just four hits and one walk, none to Bonds, but did not strike out anyone. If Wells can post a solid season, he could help lead the Padres to the NL West title.

San Francisco Giants: (Record: 3-3)
The Giants, the team with the most prolific home run hitter in the game today, are tied for last in baseball with two long balls. They are not expected to be among the league leaders, but with solid players, and Bonds, they are hoping to be in the middle of the pack. On top of the lack of power, they have not run much either. They have only attempted two stolen bases and have been successful on both. If they are to continue with their station-to-station philosophy, the power will have to kick in soon.

St. Louis Cardinals: (Record: 4-3)
The best offensive duo in baseball may be Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen. Both are outstanding hitters, possibly each the best at their position, and have each gotten off to great starts. Rolen is hitting .367 with four home runs and Pujols is hitting .320 with four long balls of his own. Rolen is leading the league with 13 RBI and Pujols is second with 11. The Cards need everything they can get from these two and the rest of the offense if they are to compete in the NL Central.

Stat of the week:

The first week of the season can provide some interesting stat lines, especially when prorating some stats to a full season. If Scott Rolen were to maintain his current level of play throughout the season, he would be on pace for:

162 G, 694 AB, 162 runs, 93 HR, 301 RBI

Look out Hack Wilson, Scott Rolen is on pace to break your RBI record before August. Tune in next week to see Rolen's pace drop by about 100 RBI.

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