Considering just a few months ago we were fearing the worst that we may not even see any baseball this year due to the lockout. But on March 10, the MLB and MLBPA agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement, and despite the season being delayed a week, we still get a full 162 game season.
Just a few weeks into the season, and we’ve already had a whole host of interesting storylines emerge. There is of course still a very long time to go, and those looking to wager on the season can check out these baseball bonuses to compare the best value on prop bets, season win totals and individual award winners, just to name a few.
The Rookies Showing Out
One of the biggest storylines so far has been the fact that the 2022 crop of rookies have got off to an historic start. Cleveland Guardians outfielder Steven Kwan wasn’t just one of the best rookies after week one, he was one of the best players, period. Six games into his career in the big leagues, Kwan had 10 hits and eight walks, and had only been struck out just once. In that time, He swung and missed just two times — and one of those was technically a foul tip.
Those numbers are frankly ridiculous, and his extreme contact-orientated style has drawn praise from fans and pundits alike. The 24-year-old player out of Oregon State University told FOX Sports: “I remember when I was younger, every time I struck out, I would want to cry. So I think I just told myself, ‘I don’t like to cry, so I just won’t strike out.’”
Kansas City Royals infielder Bobby Witt Jr. doesn’t have the eye-catching offensive numbers Kwan does, but has still had an extremely impressive start, particularly on defense. His debut ended with a go-ahead hit to give the Royals an early win and he made one eye-catching game saving defensive play. Another Rookie who has impressed in Cincinnati Reds pitcher Hunter Greene throwing casual 100mph fastballs with complete ease.
Greene, Kwan and Witt Jr. have been exceptional in their own right, but there is one rookie who has drawn attention more than anyone else – Chicago Cubs’ outfielder Seiya Suzuki. Suzuki smashed 38 home runs last year in Japan’s NPB, and has had an immediate impact in the Cubs’ lineup.
Suzuki has started the season with a nine-game hitting streak – good enough for the longest streak for a Cubs batter to start a Major League career since 1943, and tied with Akinori Iwamura of the 2007 Rays for the longest run to begin an MLB career for a Japanese-born player. On top of that, Suzuki was named as National League play of the week on Monday, April 18 and then that night improved his season slash line to .429/.564/.929 through 39 plate appearances.
So far this season, he has an extremely impressive four home runs, nine runs, 11 RBIs and as many walks (nine) as strikeouts. Cubs star starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks said: “It’s so impressive, man. Every at-bat. He doesn’t take an at-bat off. Plate discipline from the start. I know facing guys like that, it’s a headache. Every at-bat is tough. You don’t know quite where to go and then he puts swings on balls in every area of the zone. He covers everything. So, it’s just really tough to game plan and attack against a guy like that.”
That Clayton Kershaw decision
On Wednesday April 13, we nearly witnessed history, as Clayton Kershaw was on his way to pitching a perfect game for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Minnesota Twins. But, as soon as his pitch clock hit 80, he was pulled after seven innings after dominating the Twins with 13 strikeouts in 21 batters. Fans were understandably angry at the decision to pull him out of the game, but Kershaw and his ballclub manager Dave Roberts were in agreement that it was right to take him out.
“Those are selfish goals. We’re trying to win. That’s really all we’re here for,” Kershaw said. Roberts spoke with Kershaw after the sixth inning, and it was Kershaw who initiated the conversation, saying to Roberts that he wanted one more inning with an 85-pitch limit. “I would have loved to have stayed, but bigger things, man, bigger things,” Kershaw said. When asked about it, Roberts was clear he had no regrets. On Thursday before the team’s home opener against Cincinnati.
He said: “I can’t manage a ballclub and players with my fan cap on. There’s a cost to everything and I wasn’t, and Clayton wasn’t, willing to take on that cost.” While it all makes sense from a player health perspective, and it’s still early in the season after a shortened spring training, it is still extremely annoying from a fan’s perspective, and this is the main issue facing baseball.
The fans want pitchers going long into games, but the players and managers want them to stay healthy. “The only thing I feel bad for is, if I was a fan, I would want to see somebody finish the game,” Kershaw said. “So, from a fan’s perspective, I do feel bad for that. I wish I could have done it. But yesterday wasn’t the day.”
It’s been an incredible start to the MLB season. We’ve seen the latest tech take over, with the ‘PitchCom’ system the newest way for catchers and pitchers to communicate and call pitches. We’ve also seen the first ever woman to coach on an MLB field when San Francisco Giants assistant coach Alyssa Nakken took over after first base coach Antoan Richardson was ejected.
It’s been an exciting and incredible start to the MLB season, and long may it continue. We hope we can keep seeing rookies dominate, the best pitchers go long in games showing off their best stuff, and the best hitters to get their bats hot moving on.