Streaking in the Park: Week 1

The first week of the regular season had drama, intrigue and controversy. The three American League division leaders (Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics – as of Tuesday) are all somewhat surprising and in the National League, the San Francisco Giants have soared to a 6-1 record and the NL West lead, while the lowly Houston Astros have yet to win a game (0-7).

There are many players exceeding expectations early on this season as well as large group that have been disappointing managers and fans across the league. Let’s take a look at the first group of streaking players for the 2010 regular season. Before continuing, I want to give a huge thank you to Jonathan Ugol for creating the wonderful Streaking in the Park logo. Enjoy!

Hot

CF Vernon Wells, TOR

Toronto Blue Jays fans are watching Vernon Wells swing and thinking, ‘Where was that swing the past three years?’ Wells has been underachieving the last several years and his numbers prove it, but never fear Blue Jays fans, because it appears Wells is primed to have an excellent year. Thus far, in just 7 games, Wells has an MLB leading five home runs and has an impressive .320 average and a .920 slugging percentage. Although Wells is on a pace to hit 116 home runs this year, I somehow believe his numbers will trail off as the season wears on, but for now, enjoy the surge.

CP Jon Rauch, MIN

One of, if not the biggest reason for the Minnesota Twin’s success early this year is their replacement closer Jon Rauch. After their star closer Joe Nathan underwent Tommy John surgery, many people had written off the Twins chances, because of how valuable a closer is to a team. Rauch has not only embraced the role of closer, but has been unbelievable, going five for five in save opportunities with a 1.80 era. Rauch has allowed just one earned run on five hits in five innings thus far and has struck out three. If Rauch can be successful for the entire season, the Twin’s have a chance at winning the AL Central.

SP Roy Halladay, PHI

Over the past several years, Roy Halladay has been one of the elite pitchers in the American League with the Toronto Blue Jays. This season, Halladay had his first opportunity to pitch in the National League for the Philadelphia Phillies and has been stellar thus far. In two starts, Halladay has an era of 0.56 and has allowed only one earned run in 16 innings, while compiling 17 Ks and just two BBs. Halladay is already on his way to a third consecutive 200+ K season and is looking to match or exceed his total of nine complete games the past two years. If he continues to pitch at a high level, Halladay could make a serious run at the NL Cy Young this season.

RF Nelson Cruz, TEX

Nelson Cruz is another player who had a break-out campaign in 2009 and has carried over that success into this season. Cruz hit 33 home runs last year in just 128 games, more than tripling his previous high of nine in 2007. In seven games this season, Cruz already has five bombs and has a whopping .458 average playing for the Texas Rangers. Cruz has a notoriously poor BB to K ratio, but has just four of each so far. Cruz’s 1.250 slugging percentage is tops among MLB players who have appeared in at least three games. If Cruz can maintain a relatively strong batting average and keep up his power numbers, he will be one of the league’s best hitters at the end of the season.

Honorable Mention

SP Adam Wainwright, STL

1B Miguel Cabrera, DET

Cold

DH David Ortiz, BOS

Living in Boston, this has been by far the biggest headline this season. After an abysmal slump in 2009 to begin the season, David Ortiz has continued his early season struggles in 2010 and has already had a shouting match with members of the media and is visibly uncomfortable in the batter’s box. Ortiz is tied for the MLB lead in Ks with 11 in just 6 games. Ortiz is hitting just .136 in 22 ABs with no home runs and just a measly 2 RBIs for the big slugger. With a slugging percentage of .227 and an on-base percentage of .208, Ortiz could afford to bring back some of his late-game clutch hitting magic in the near future for the 3-4 Red Sox.

SP Jason Marquis, WSH

You won’t find many uglier stat lines than Jason Marquis right now. In 2 starts, Marquis has allowed 12 earned runs, two home runs, five BBs (one HBP) while compiling just three strike outs. On top of that, Marquis picked up the loss in both games he started and has allowed a .378 opponent batting average in just 8.1 innings. These are certainly not what Marquis or the Nationals were hoping for to begin his career in the nation’s capital, but the bright side is that it can only get better. Marquis has finished above .500 his past three seasons and has a career era of 4.53, so I wouldn’t push the panic button just yet, but there is certainly cause for concern in D.C.

CP Michael Gonzalez, BAL

The Baltimore Orioles made a splash this off-season in a quest to improve the team and make the franchise competitive over the next several years. They brought back SS Miguel Tejada and signed a few other veterans to balance their young lineup and pitching staff. One of the signings was former Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates reliever and closer, Michael Gonzalez. They wanted a stable closer and were sure he was the man for the job. Unfortunately for Orioles management, Gonzalez has been awful since entering Birdland. In three games, Gonzalez is one for three in save opportunities and has an era of 18.00 after giving up four earned runs in just two innings. Sitting at 1-6, this is shaping up to be another long season for Orioles fans.

LF Carlos Lee, HOU

Thus far in Brad Mill’s tenure as the Astro’s manager, nothing has gone the way he had hoped. Sitting at 0-7, the Astros have had limited offense and poor pitching in 2010 and need their veteran leaders to step-up if they want to be successful. Enter Carlos Lee. The career .290 hitter is hitting a poor .111 in seven games this season. The team needs Lee to find his groove at the dish if they want to be a decent team in 2010. Currently, Lee has no home runs or RBIs, and has struck out nine times in 27 ABs. With three hits, all singles, Lee has a slugging percentage equal to his current batting average and has a long way to go in order to have a productive season.

Honorable Mentions

C Greg Zaun, MIL

RF Milton Bradley, SEA

Brian PhairBoSox InjectionStreaking in the Park

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Topics: Adam Wainwright, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Brian Phair, Carlos Lee, David Ortiz, Detroit Tigers, Greg Zaun, Houston Astros, Jason Marquis, Jon Rauch, Michael Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Milton Bradley, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, Nelson Cruz, Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Halladay, Seattle Mariners, St Louis Cardinals, Streaking In The Park, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, Vernon Wells, Washington Nationals

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