Friday, April 8, 2011

Fridays with FRANCO: Opening Week edition

Going into the stadium yesterday, all I could think was "Well, the best part of this first week is that it's put us in a position to be at least .500 for another 48 hours."

Leaving the park, the thought had turned to "Well, only have to do that 80 more times in person."

Somewhere in between those two thoughts, I had a rush of total, sublime delight. There is nothing better than going out to a game on a beautiful day, and win or lose, this season should have enough interesting players to make each trip to the ballpark worth it.

Alright, let me tone that down a little. It's not win or lose-- it's definitely lose.

This first week has been fun, but it's not without some ominous statistical indicators. Namely, our batters striking out 64 times while only taking 20 walks, and slugging a mere .373. Here's the thing: we scored some exciting runs this past week, but we did it with a grandslam and some fielders' choices. The latter tells us that we're still good at making outs, even if it seems like we're good at scoring runs now; the former is an unsustainable way of scoring. Home runs are worth like 1.5-2.5 runs on average -- not 4, and so our "big hits with runners on" is the kind of clutch that regresses back to the fantasy that it is.

Meanwhile, our pitchers have a WHIP around 1.4, and an ERA below 3.00. That's goofy. We're not striking people out, we're still walking a ton... the only thing that hasn't caught up to us is our opponents ability to get the hits to drop when there's someone on, and to make those fly balls turn into home runs. The tide began to turn yesterday, as the Rockies got their hits worth, and Troy Tulowitzki blasted one. This will become a recurring theme, people.

Now for the good:

McCutchen is still the real deal.

Neil Walker isn't, but it's still fun to watch him play (especially when he sports those athletic goggles).

Pedro Alvarez is a struggling question mark, but the thing to remember there is that he was in college three years ago. He's been rushed through the system and he will catch up to the game (I hope).

Jose Tabata is living on base this year, which is great to see.

We have some power arms in our bullpen. Bold prediction: Evan Meek will be fine, and Joel Hanrahan won't lead the league in saves.

More to come on this later. Dollar dogs tonight; strap it on.

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