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June 22, 2024

Five overreactions after a week of MLB games

By JOSEPH RAINBOLT | April 8, 2024

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ERIK DROST / CC BY 2.0

Rainbolt lists some of the most notable observations from the first week of the MLB season as well as predictions for the remainder of the year.

The MLB season has 162 games. At this point, most teams have played seven or eight. But why not have some strong reactions? 

Every year there are surprises, so here are five overreactions from the opening week of the 2024 MLB season.

A Pirates breakout is happening

The Pittsburgh Pirates were projected to be a slightly below-average team as they continued their rebuild but after a 7-2 start, they are ready to contend for the National League (NL) Central crown. The Pirates quietly improved last year, finishing with a 76-86 record

The Pirates have some talent, and in as weak a division as the NL Central is, this is the year to surprise everyone. The lineup has upside — Oneil Cruz is off to a scorching start, and Ke’Bryan Hayes and Bryan Reynolds are both elite players. 

The pitching side also has potential; Mitch Keller had a great 2023 campaign, and the bullpen is anchored by veteran Aroldis Chapman and one of the best closers in baseball, David Bednar. 

On top of all that, Andrew McCutchen is back on the Pirates, and maybe that’s the magic they need to get back into contention.

The Astros Dynasty is over

From 2017–23 the Houston Astros won two World Series championships, made the playoffs every season and were never eliminated before the championship series. This success, mixed with a sign-stealing scandal, has made the Astros one of the most hated teams in the MLB. But it is finally over. 

The Astros have been underwhelming, getting off to a 2-7 start to the 2024 campaign. The bullpen, one of the strong points of this team, has struggled. It’s early but Yordan Álvarez and Alex Bregman have also been disappointing. 

It might just be wishful thinking but in a tough division with the reigning champion Texas Rangers, and the Seattle Mariners both fighting for playoff spots, maybe the aging Astros might slip through the cracks.

This is the year of Bobby Witt Jr.

In the 2024 offseason, the Kansas City Royals shocked the baseball world by signing their star 23-year-old shortstop to an 11-year $288.7 million contract

So far, it is hard to be anything but thrilled by this decision. Witt has been one of the best players in the American League. He is batting an incredible .389 and has been otherworldly both in the field and on the basepaths.

After a breakout 2023 season, he has once again improved in every regard. He hits for power, he can run and he can field — all told Witt looks poised for an incredible season. 

Do not be surprised if Witt continues this success and becomes the next superstar shortstop.

The Oakland A’s will be the worst team ever

The Oakland Athletics lost 112 games last year and might be even worse this year. It’s impossible to ignore the serious off-the-field problems that the A’s are having. 

A’s owner John Fisher does not want the Athletics to continue playing in Oakland and is doing everything he can to move the team to Las Vegas. 

But regardless of the off-the-field issues, the Athletics are off to a horrendous start on the field. Their record, 2-7, is not pretty to look at, but a deeper look shows that they might get even worse. 

As a team, the Athletics are batting .192, and are not doing any better on defense, having almost twice as many errors as any other team. 

The Athletics are simultaneously in the bottom three in runs scored and top three in runs allowed. A 120-loss season could very well be in the cards.

One more Mike Trout MVP

Mike Trout has always been productive when he plays; the question is, always, how much can he be on the field? 

Injuries have held him back the past four years, but his production has not faltered when he plays. So why not have a little belief? 

This is finally going to be the year, the first since 2019, that the MLB gets to experience a full season of healthy Trout. 

50 homers, 20 stolen bases, elite defense and superior on-base skills — that is what’s to come in Trout’s 2024 season, one last hoorah for one of the game’s best players ever.


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