clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The incontrovertible truths of MLB Opening Day 2016

New, comments

There's a team that might not hit a lot, and there's a team that might hit a bunch. Also, snow is the worst, and so is the fake Opening Day.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

You can't learn anything from Opening Day. Just like you can't learn anything from April that you probably didn't already know, and just like you probably can't learn a whole lot before the end of May, you certainly can't learn anything from a single game.

So here are some incontrovertible truths we learned from Opening Day. Everything below is almost certainly true.

Also, "here are suspicions that I had about certain teams that were reinforced by a tiny, tiny sample," just doesn't sing as a headline. No, these are incontrovertible truths. I don't know much about how the 2016 season will go, but I do know these truths.

The Cardinals will have trouble scoring runs

Hey, it's not just me who's worried about this. Let's take it to Cardinals blog Viva El Birdos:

Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty have been propped up as part of the younger "new core," who will be leaned on to provide power and continue the team's winning ways for the next several years (dreamy photo here). The concern with Grichuk has always been his plate discipline. Piscotty's profile is still incomplete. He had 256 plate appearances as a rookie last year and had a higher BABIP than he's ever had in his professional career. (On Sunday) they went a combined 1-7 with five strikeouts.

Half of the Cardinals team got sucked into a rice huller last year, but we didn't notice because Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty were so very awesome. They had power. They hit for average. They were athletic and young. They were going to be around for a decade to annoy us all. Inside the leather-bound copy of The Cardinals Way, there's a picture of Grichuk and Piscotty and detailed instructions on how to harvest them from the Grichuk and Piscotty farm that the Cardinals have maintained for decades now.

Except, what if the Cardinals don't have super powers? What if they can't take a hitter who strikes out in a third of his plate appearances and five times for every walk, then turn him into a long-term asset? What if Piscotty doesn't hit better in the majors than he ever did in the minors again? What if the allencraigening happens right away and not for another team?

It's early, and it's not like the Cardinals don't have the pitching to overcome this concern-trolling and win 100 games, which is basically what they did last year. But I'm skeptical.

The Giants won't have trouble scoring runs

Dear Giants fans, if you believe that I'm a jinx for this, then you also have to give me credit for not jinxing everything that has gone right over the last decade, up to and including the Rays passing on Buster Posey.

But I'm quite bullish on the Giants' offense this year. With good health, it has the potential to be the best lineup they've had since the days of Bonds/Kent/Burks. Here are the wRC+ for all the Giants hitters last season:

  1. Denard Span, 120
  2. Joe Panik, 138
  3. Buster Posey, 138
  4. Hunter Pence, 127
  5. Brandon Belt, 135
  6. Matt Duffy, 116
  7. Brandon Crawford, 117
  8. Pitchers, 25 (still better than your team)
  9. Angel Pagan, 81

And before you wrinkle your nose at that last one, note that Pagan looks like a different player this year. He's a spry fellow in search of a new contract, and it's a drastic difference compared to the player who spent much of 2015 playing like he was towing a dishwasher. Maybe he works out, maybe he doesn't. But the early returns are encouraging, and it's worth noting that Gregor Blanco had a 120 wRC+ in 372 PA last year if things don't work out. It's a fine backup plan.

They won't crack 150 homers. They won't score 800 runs (because of AT&T Park). But they exploded against the Brewers on Opening Day, and it's as deep a lineup as there is in the majors, provided they stay healthy.

Provided they stay healthy. They don't have an active Grichuk and Piscotty farm, at least not for outfielders. They're doing some genetic experiments on some of the seedlings at their Panik and Duffy farm, but they'll still need that good health.

(Also, the stupid Dodgers are also not likely to struggle scoring runs, but I'm out of time.)

The Diamondbacks have six years of holding their breath ahead of them

Not because Zack Greinke is going to be awful during his entire contract. But because every time he stumbles or has a bad pair of starts, or a bad two weeks, or, gasp, a bad month, it's going to be so very easy for everyone invested in the Diamondbacks to think, "OH, NO, WHAT IF HE'S AWFUL NOW?" There will not be any more $200 million players in the team's immediate future. This is their one shot. They do not get an offseason mulligan if Greinke doesn't work out and they want to sign a different star.

Again, don't confuse this with pessimism on my end. He'll be fine. He pitched with the flu, apparently, and you can always forgive a pitcher for struggling with his command on Opening Day. This is just a note to remind you that the nerves of Diamondback fans and front-office types will be frayed because they can't afford to miss on Greinke, and even the best pitchers will always have ups and downs.

I know from experience, as I watched and worried after the Giants signed Barry Zito. That was their one shot, their one big-ticket pitcher, and it took a decade for them to sign another. So when he started to struggle in his very first season, the ball of blurgh kept growing and growing in my stomach. It's like that, except Greinke is going to pitch well eventually.

Also, as long as we're on the subject, the Diamondbacks' new home uniforms look like they were designed by someone in 1996 to look like what people would wear 20 years in the future. Maybe Greinke didn't have the flu, but he was just sick with embarrassment that he had to wear a uniform with ankle scales and shoulder scales.

Those are supposed to be ankle scales and shoulder scales on purpose, if I'm seeing this right. And there are some on the sides of the jersey, too. To protect the oblique against its natural predators, I guess.

Opening nights are awful, and so is the fake Opening Day

I'll give ESPN their fake Opening Day on Sunday night. One game, isolated and set apart, to serve as the official watch-this moment for baseball fans from everywhere, is fine. Preferable, even. And ESPN struck gold with the random, incredible fortune of having an interleague World Series rematch as an option.

It's the other games throughout the day that kill me. There was a Cardinals/Pirates game in the wee hours of the morning (at least over here), and then there was a Rays/Blue Jays game in the mid-afternoon for some reason. Then the Cardinals and Pirates sat out Monday, right as their fans are excited and jazzed that baseball is back.

It's even hard as a writer. What do you call them? Opening Days? Openings Day? Opening 28.7-Percent of the Week?

But, fine, I'll take the stutter-step of the split openers if we get rid of the Opening Nights. Both Chicago teams had to wait until 9 p.m. their time for Opening Day. That's appalling, and not just in a what-about-the-children kind of way. No one should have to wait until nighttime for the baseball season's start. And it stinks for the home teams on the West Coast, too. Opening Day is when your parents pull you out of school and send you back with a sunburn and a note that reads, "Please excuse (child) for missing yesterday. (He/she) had a very bad cold that is in no way related to the sunburn."

What's wrong with a nice, early Reds game to start the season? What's wrong with the way things used to be when 30 teams played 15 games in the afternoon across three time zones? And another thing, what's this Snapchat crap that everyone keeps talking about? What's wrong with just picking up the phone and telling someone what's going on with your life?

But Opening Night is a junk idea that should stop. And that's in isolation. On Monday night, it was going against a freaking men's college basketball championship. Chris Sale's parents were probably watching Villanova/North Carolina.

Snow is the dumbest weather

It has a reputation for being so pure and beautiful, but it's just frozen dirt rain that sticks around and gets gray and slordgy. It has no place in a proper baseball season.

Every team should move to California, so should you, and we should turn the rest of America into one giant water farm for California.

I'll have a much longer magazine article coming on this proposal soon, but I just want you to think about it for now. Just flood the other 47 continental states and cut our losses. If you don't want to leave the ocean, desert or mountains, don't worry, it's still here, though I can't help you if you're partial to swamps. If you had an Opening Day ruined by weather, you're at least listening.

I didn't mean to stuff these headers with a lot of negative points. It's probably just my weak coffee. Let's end with a lightning round of happy.

Bryce Harper can hit ball far

Kevin Pillar can catch ball good

Clayton Kershaw can pitch ball really good

These are the incontrovertible truths of Opening Day 2016. All of these things are true. Please do not argue with any of them.