As we watch the 2013 Major League season pass the 20 percent pole we are in need of a new name for hitters. Swingers? Sounds kinky, and there's nothing sexy about the approach we're seeing. I need not pound your brain with reams of mind numbing statistics. It's sufficient to know that dating back to last season, the past eight months of play are the highest eight strike out months in Major League history. (And the top two were September of 2012 and April of this year.) Why? We've entered a new golden age of pitchers for one. Guys are developing in some cases four or five pitches with themes and variations on each.
And stepping to the dish eager to help are a whole host of batters possessing the approach of the little league kid I saw this morning swinging at a pitch a foot above his head. He has an excuse... he's 9 years old and wants to hit a home run because home runs are cool. Josh Hamilton is 32 years old, and wants to hit a home run too. He has four so far, all against MLB's closest thing to a little league squad the Houston Astros. Again no need to bludgeon with stats. Just know that Hamilton is swinging at over 50% of the first pitches he sees.....It's killing him, and the Angels. Between Hamilton and .239 hitting Albert Pujols the Angels are as I write 14-22 and floundering in fourth place. To win the west they'll have to go at least 76-50 from here on out, and that's being optimistic.
The American League East isn't going at all how I thought. The Blue Jays have been terrible. Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes are both injured. Reigning NL Cy Young Award Winner R.A. Dickey has been anything but Cy Young worthy and is trying to pitch through a balky back. Toronto isn't hitting, and aren't pitching and they sit in the cellar. The Red Sox and Yankees meanwhile perch on top with the Orioles, a game separating all three. How New York has managed their start is beyond me. They've had to play Lyle Overbay at first base most days for crying out loud. Meanwhile the Sox have seen Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz reclaim their careers.
While no one was paying attention, and while many of their games were being played in arctic conditions, the Twins have a winning record.
Matt Cain, David Price, and Stephen Strasburg are all among the starters struggling to get themselves going.
Can't slam the Angels without taking the Dodgers to task. All their free spending has them buried in last place.
After a dismal stretch that included a 2-4 mark against the Astros, my Mariners are nonetheless a half game out of second in the west.
The Astros and Marlins are God awful, though I will say this. Houston at least competes most nights.
The Braves and Cardinals are both in first place. Are there better run organizations in baseball? I don't think so.
The Mets can't hit.
Guys I Have On My Struggling Fantasy Team That I Don't Like
I have four teams this season, and three are doing fine. In my big dough league though things are rough. I'm languishing in 7th with an anemic offense. If you play the fantasy game a team like this sends you dumpster diving on the waiver wire trying to catch someone on a brief jag. To that end I have on my roster right now:
Loney looks like another Rays' scrap heap special. They squeezed a big season out of Casey Kotchman a few years back after all... Loney is currently hitting .375. Probably not for long.
Escobar is an odious homophobic punk with a terrible attitude. Fantasy is a mercenary game sometimes. I ain't proud of it, but if it's any solace he'll probably stink.
Hafner I've had for a few weeks. He started off hot, but has cooled significantly. Tribe fans still may not recognize him however because he's not on the DL.... yet....
Also of note is a guy I added last night. Scott Kazmir was all but forgotten.... For whatever reason the 29 year old Cleveland hurler has rediscovered a heater topping out at 96. The difference being he's not walking anyone. Even when his arm was at it's most lithe he'd walk the house while you weren't looking. I'll keep a close eye for you.
If you're a fan of pitching take some time to see the Mets' Matt Harvey. The 24 year old has all the weapons, and a bulldog competitive streak too. A good place to start is Harvey's outing against the White Sox. While warming up he developed a damned nose bleed he was so fired up. What followed was a one hit, no walk masterpiece marred only by a "bleeder" infield single. I have this guy on two fantasy teams and he ain't going anywhere.)
Brian Phillips is the daytime DJ for the legendary Independent Rock n Roll Blowtorch CD102.5 in Columbus,OH. He knows a thing or two about a thing or two.