Your baseball opinions are stupid after the first month of the season, a reminder – SB Nation

Welcome back to an annual tradition, in which you’re reminded that it’s bad to have opinions about baseball after the first month of the season. For example, these were actual words written after April:

Delmon Young might actually be a worthwhile hitter now

Fact. While he’ll always be limited by the hackhackhack, we’re 300 at-bats into the new, high-average Delmon. In 44 plate appearances this season, he’s struck out only twice. He’s still just 29, and he sure missed out on a lot of minor-league development, so I could see a little late bloomer in him. As long as you keep him out of the outfield, he should be fine.

After writing that, I rested my chin on my closed hand, looked vacantly toward the sky in deep thought, and thought, “Yeah, that’s exactly what I want to say.”

A couple months later, Young was released. He’s still a free agent, you know. A one-man trade deadline, just waiting to help your team.

Here’s the format: We pretend that the season started after the All-Star break. There’s about a month’s worth of games to go on, and now we have to form opinions. I’ll come up with the headline of an article that would seem plausible if the baseball season were just a month old, and then I’ll guess at the words that would have been under that headline.

For example, here’s a sample headline if the first half didn’t exist:

The Rockies can rebuild their entire franchise by trading Carlos Gonzalez

And here’s my sample hot take:

They say that luck is the residue of good design. The Rockies, who were seemingly designed by my old college roommate, Wiggly, after three days at ReggaeFest, shouldn’t get any of that luck, then. They have an awful design.

Except, a long, long time ago, in a ballpark far, far away, someone on the Rockies had the brilliant idea to ask for Carlos Gonzalez in return for Matt Holliday. One superstar outfielder out, one superstar outfielder in. It never works out that cleanly. And now that good design has left a little spot of luck for the Rockies.

Gonzalez is going to break the trade market.

After an injury-marred season, Gonzalez is an early MVP candidate, hitting .363/.422/.900 — yes, that’s a .900 slugging percentage — in the first month of the season. He’s on pace for 78 home runs, give or take. In the offense-starved climate of 2015, here’s the chance for a team to get some serious power. All they’ll need is to give up two or three of their best prospects, laying a foundation for the Rockies for the next 10 years.

Who would want him? Don’t look now, but the Dodgers have the pieces, and they should have the desire. Joc Pederson has been an unmitigated disaster at the plate, reminding everyone that Pacific Coast League numbers are pyrite. Yasiel Puig can’t crack the Mendoza Line, and he’s looking even more aggressive than usual. Andre Ethier is hitting well enough, but how long can that last?

Gonzalez for Corey Seager. Straight up, no chaser. Dodger fans would balk, but we’re talking the best hitter in baseball right now, still under 30, locked up for two more years. I don’t know what the Dodgers would do with their other expensive outfielders, maybe let them park cars or greet people at the entrance or something, but that’s their concern.

Regardless, here’s the chance for the Rockies to revisit the Holliday trade. The offseason trade of Tulowitzki was a start. This is where they rebuild the franchise, though.

★★★

Sample headline if the first half didn’t exist:

Are the Twins the worst team in baseball?

Sample hot take:

Probably. The team ERA is 6.17. If you’re looking for good news, the team FIP is just 5.15. This is a bad, bad, bad team, and I’m not sure exactly how they’re supposed to get better.

It would be one thing if Phil Hughes still had a strikeout pitch. He does not. Possibly by design! You never know with those wacky Twins. After Hughes, though, it’s a mess. Ervin Santana was never supposed to be worth his contract by the end, but the Twins were at least hoping he would be worth it in the beginning. He’s a disaster. Kyle Gibson is a disaster. Mike Pelfrey is, like, the best part of this rotation, and he’s literally Mike Pelfrey.

More good news? Brian Dozier isn’t hitting, and neither is Trevor Plouffe. The good-timey vibes of the Torii Hunter Nostalgia Tour are running out, as the 58-year-old outfielder is hitting .209 with a .260 on-base percentage. Joe Mauer is sub-replacement, and the hope of the future, Miguel Sano, is striking out 36 percent of the time. Okay, maybe Aaron Hicks finally breaking out is actual good news, but the bad news is that’s the only good news.

Still, it’s the pitching that has me more concerned if I’m a Twins fan. For years and years, the Twins have preached a pitch-to-contact philosophy, at all levels, and it’s just not working. They need to take a page out of the Brewers’ handbook and let the arms just throw, man. Jimmy Nelson and Taylor Jungmann have been two of the best starters in baseball, and it’s why the Brewers are on the verge of breaking out this season.

The Twins, though? It’ll be a long time before they’re even close to a wild card race. A long, long time. Trust me. There’s no way they could get hot for even a couple months, just to make things interesting. This team is terrible.

★★★

Sample headline if the first half didn’t exist:

What’s wrong with Chris Sale?

Sample hot take:

Note that it’s just the first month of the season. Reminder that ERA probably isn’t the best way to evaluate pitchers. A mention of his ERA — 6.39 — right in the opening paragraph, which seemingly ignores the part where ERA isn’t supposed to be important.

Reference of Sale’s funky mechanics. Comical description of said delivery using “beagle attacking a windmill made out of taffy” as the punchline. Rhetorical question referencing the shoulder fatigue from a previous season? Another note that it’s just the first month of the season.

Explanation of FIP. Note that Sale’s FIP is much lower than his ERA, indicating luck.

The strikeouts are still there, so I don’t know? Probably fine. Only the first month of the season, after all. Could be fine.

But what if he isn’t?

Moment of levity to make White Sox fans feel better.

Paragraph of implied dread, making them feel worse.

Could be fine. Should be fine. Will almost certainly be fine. Sample size sample size sample size sample size sample size sample size sampel size sampel size sampll size samplee siez somple sooz slample singe sormpol torp sizing simp slalampling soot it’s probably just sormple snorz idk.

★★★

Sample headline if the first half didn’t exist:

Are the Phillies for real?

Sample hot take:

Please don’t make me write this.

Look, I respect you. You’ve been a very, very good editor to me. Your ideas and suggestions have been extraordinarily valuable to me. And I get that the Phillies have the best record in baseball over the first month, and they’re sort of a thing. Ha ha, 16-6? Good for them! That’s just super.

But please don’t make me write this. It will age like a peeled banana. This will look so horrible in two months. In one month. Next week. Please.

I have an alternate pitch: How well are the Phillies set up for the future? They got some interesting pieces in the Cole Hamels trade, certainly. Aaron Nola is a work in progress, but he seems pretty hard to screw up. Maikel Franco has an 11 percent walk rate and a 14 percent strikeout rate, which is probably the most encouraging thing that’s happened to the Phillies in two years. Combine all that with one of the top prospects in baseball, J.P. Crawford, and you have a foundation. That foundation wasn’t there two years ago.

Let me write about that.

Otherwise, it’ll all be about, oh god, Jeff Francoeur slugging .800? The renaissance of Ryan Howard? No one is going to buy that. Everyone knows they’re not for real. Don’t make me write an article with the “for real?” headline construction.

There is only so much time on this planet, and I should call my mom or change my oil or finally read that Godel, Escher, Mustaine book or, I don’t know, something. The world doesn’t need an “Are the Phillies for real?” column.

Please.

Please, no.

★★★

There is a postscript to this feature, though. We’ve been doing this for a few years (here’s 2012 and here’s 2013), and last year’s hot takes were, uh, kind of prescient?

Mike Trout, Bryce Harper finally equals

I mean, kind of. Yeah.

Billy Hamilton isn’t a major leaguer

The defense is solid! And he can sure run. And, also, he’s good at defense and running. However, he sure isn’t very good at the hitting part of baseball.

The baseball gods are punishing the Tigers for the stupid Doug Fister trade because it was a stupid trade

Probably. They were right about Fister not deserving a long-term deal, but they sure are being punished for something.

So maybe you shouldn’t pay attention to April, but July probably holds the secrets to baseball. Keep that in mind for next year.

Congratulations, Phillies. Sorry, Twins.

★★★




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