(I’m not counting Sunday’s ONE game as a day of the season…)
We’re not yet a full week into the 2009 season, but plenty of interesting things have already taken place.
1. Miguel Cabrera has picked up right where 2008 left off: It took him a half-season in the American League to get acclimated, but he’s been on some kind of a tear since. Despite hitting just 11 home runs and driving in 48 runs during his 303 first half at-bats, Cabrera still managed to set career highs in both thanks to his 26 HR/79 RBI performance in 313 second half at-bats. After a 3-for-5 Friday afternoon that included a grand slam and six runs batted in, Cabrera is hitting .611 with three home runs and 10 RBIs through five games. A career .310 hitter, Cabrera’s name has been mentioned more than once this preseason as a legitimate Triple Crown threat. Though not likely, he’s certainly got that kind of talent.
2. Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner look to be “back” from their horrible 2008 campaigns: I’ll grant that it’s entirely too soon to make that statement definitively, but that’s why I said they look to be back. Martinez has already tied his season home run total with his second this evening against Toronto. Hafner also knocked his second home run of the season tonight and the two have combined to hit .375/.444/.750 with 4 HR and 7 RBI in the middle of the Indians lineup. I’m thoroughly unimpressed with their rotation as a whole so these two will need to be back at their previously established levels of greatness if the Indians expect to contend.
3. The preseason’s most over-saturated “sleeper”, Nelson Cruz, has not disappointed: Every year there is a guy that is pegged as the hot sleeper by so many different outlets that he is no longer a sleeper at all. Cruz was the 2009 version of that player and his value shot up as a result. Thankfully for those that paid full price later in the spring, Cruz has paid huge dividends early on with a .400 batting average, 3 HR and 5 RBI. Despite the embarrassment of riches for Texas on offense, Cruz will definitely be in the lineup if he continues to hit as well as he did last year and has so far this year.
4. Evan Longoria is ridiculous: That is hardly a newsflash, but with 4 home runs in the first six days of the season, Longoria is looking like he might improve upon his excellent rookie campaign. For a league filled with so much uncertainty around prospecting, it is really nice to see a heralded youngster like Longoria be an instant hit. In fact, there have been a nice handful of instant-hits lately like Joe Mauer, Hanley Ramirez, Prince Fielder, Jay Bruce and Jacoby Ellsbury.
5. Joey Votto might even surpass my expectations for him, which are enormous: The Pirates are lucky it rained too much to play tonight! Votto was vastly underrated this spring as his ADP was below the likes of Chris Davis, Derrek Lee and Carlos Pena. He will far outproduce that group and will contend seriously for a spot in the top 5 with Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard and Mark Teixeira. Through three games, he is hitting .538 with two home runs and SEVEN runs batted in! He has some sneaky speed a la Lee back in day and he could headed for a Lee-type season circa 2006-2007.