There’s been plenty to talk about since MLB Spring Training’s Grapefruit League and Cactus League exhibition games started nine days ago in Florida and Arizona respectively. Here’s five of the bigger talking points thus far:
Chris Davis is the hottest hitter in baseball
No, you’re not in a time warp. After four tumultuous seasons where his value has been the worst in baseball, the big left-hander is back terrifying pitchers. Through 11 plate appearances he’s hitting .714 (5-for-7) and has drawn four walks. Three of those five hits have left the yard, suggesting the 25 pounds of bulk put on over winter may indeed have helped. His 2.820 OPS leads all other hitters, finally providing hope to frustrated Orioles fans.
The Tim Tebow gimmick is nearing the end
I liked Tim Tebow the football player and I really like Tim Tebow the human. There’s no doubting he’s a lovely guy and most sports fans were rooting for him when he decided in 2016 to pursue a career in baseball. However, he turns 33 later this year and he owns a career .638 OPS in the minor leagues. Things have been pretty disappointing this spring too, hitting .125 in six games. His one hit was a home run, however that doesn’t do much to boost his .448 career OPS in 30 spring exhibition games. Time to give that valuable spot back to a kid.
Gerrit Cole looks dominant in pinstripes
Unsurprisingly, the biggest move of the winter was (arguably) baseball’s best pitcher joining (arguably) baseball’s best team. After inking a massive 9-year deal with the Yankees, everyone was excited to see how Gerrit Cole would fare in pinstripes – and he hasn’t let us down. Through two outings, he’s required just 26 pitches to work through 3 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits. Absolutely sizzling.
The Dodgers are experiencing a power surge
The team to beat in the National League has started the exhibition season in fine form, losing just two of nine games and scoring more runs (60) than any team other than the Orioles (64). They’re doing so by reliance on the long ball, having slugged 15 home runs to lead all teams. Prospect Cody Thomas leads the way with four, while Kike Hernandez has two. Imagine when Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts, Corey Seager et al. get going…
When Astros hitters get plunked, people take notice
The Astros are the most hated team in baseball and deservingly so. They’re cheats and their 2017 World Series win will forever be tainted. There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks, from both current and past players, of how retribution may be served, and when seven batters were plunked through the Astros’ first five games, including the hated duo of Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, people took notice. While most of the plunkings were via off-speed pitches and clearly accidental, fans of rival teams loved it nonetheless.