Batter’s Box: A New Hopening Day
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire)
Yesterday was one of my favorite times of the year, and I know I’m not alone. I was anticipating it so much that I could hardly sleep. I feel a little lightheaded just thinking back on it, to be honest. That’s right, it was National Lemon Cake Day! And oh what a lovely day it was. I just sat around eating lemon cakes and reflecting on the future of lemon cakes as a dessert. It’s such a versatile baked good, and I know that the best is yet to come. I hope you and your loved ones enjoyed it as much as I did.
Oh yeah, yesterday was Opening Day too. That means the statistics actually count now (sorry Jon Lester), and that Rich Hill is about four weeks away from getting a blister. Just like fresh-baked lemon cakes, some hitters came out hot and ready, while others caved under the pressure and became gooey messes. Let’s have a look at who did what on Opening Day.
Brandon Nimmo (OF, New York Mets): 2-for-3, 2 R, BB
Well it looks like the Mets are going to try to take advantage of Nimmo’s elite on-base skills (15.3% walk rate in 2017) in the early going by inserting him into the leadoff spot. He didn’t disappoint yesterday, reaching base four times with the help of a hit-by-pitch. Hard to say what the Mets will do with Michael Conforto‘s return right around the corner, but more performances like this might force the team to get creative in order to keep Nimmo’s bat in the lineup.
Adrian Gonzalez (1B, New York Mets): 2-for-3, R, RBI, 2 BB
Adrian Gonzalez scored a run on Opening Day, which may be one of the few times this year that “Adrian Gonzalez” and “run” will be used in the same sentence. At this point in his career, and after numerous back injuries, the jury is still out on whether Gonzalez still has any power in his bat. But for one day at least the trademark plate discipline and contact ability showed up. He’s not A-Gon’er yet.
Jose Martinez (1B, St. Louis Cardinals): 3-for-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI
Jose Martinez made people who passed on him in drafts due to playing time concerns feel like Gyorkos on Thursday. His big day at the plate included a home run off of Noah Syndergaard, one of the toughest righties in the game. If you’re looking for a deal on a potential 2018 breakout, I suggest shopping at J-Mart.
Ian Happ (OF, Chicago Cubs): 1-for-5, R, HR, RBI, 3 K
Ian Happ started the season off with a bang, hitting the first pitch of the entire MLB season out of the park. But just like a professional candle smeller, Happ had to get a bunch of whiffs in, striking out in three of his next four at-bats. Happ’s 31.2% strikeout rate and 24 home runs in 2017 indicate that there are likely many more performances like this in his future.
Robinson Chirinos (C, Texas Rangers): 0-for-4, 4 K
Chirinos shamefully donned the first golden sombrero of the season. Although since he plays in Texas, maybe it’s more of a golden ten-gallon hat.
Giancarlo Stanton (OF, New York Yankees): 3-for-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, K
Dong-carlo Stanton with two big dongs to start the year. That sentence is very suggestive, but also accurate, because both his homers were very arousing. With Opening Day adding so many silly names to the leaderboards (Jay Bruce tops in stolen bases?), it’s nice to see Stanton’s name near the top of the home run chart and know that all is right in the world.
Eduardo Nunez (2B/3B/OF, Boston Red Sox): 2-for-4, R, HR, 2 RBI
Nunez caught Denard Span and Kevin Kiermaier practicing for Cirque du Soleil in left-center field and took advantage of it, looping a fly ball in their direction for an inside-the-parker. Nunez was batting seventh, which will limit his stolen base opportunities, but more performances like this might earn him a cushier spot in the lineup going forward.
Xander Bogaerts (SS, Boston Red Sox): 3-for-4, 2 R
Xander racked up three hits yesterday, but just like a guy who’s eaten some bad Mexican food, all he had to show for it in the end were the runs. Go ahead and boo me, I can’t hear you through the computer. Anyway, two of those hits were doubles, which bodes fairly well for the power returning after taking a step back last season.
Zack Cozart (SS, Los Angeles Angels): 3-for-6, R, HR, RBI, 2 K
Cozart hit leadoff on Thursday ahead of some nobody named Mike Trout who went 0-for-6 and failed to capitalize on Cozart’s big day at the plate. With Ian Kinsler back soon, Zack will have to keep up the hot hitting if he plans on getting Coz-y with this premium lineup spot.
Mike Trout (OF, Los Angeles Angels): 0-for-6, K
Is it possible that Mike Trout is so good now that he’s playing the long con, lulling opposing teams into a false sense of security by purposely going hitless, only to return the next day with a 7-homer game? I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.
Marcus Semien (SS, Oakland Athletics): 3-for-5, 2 R, RBI, BB, K
A big thanks to Mike Scioscia for being Mike Scioscia and removing his center fielder shortly before Semien dunked his game-winning hit into… center field. Semien sent all 30 Athletics fans at the game home happy with his big performance at the plate.
Khris Davis (OF, Oakland Athletics): 2-for-5, R, HR, 4 RBI, K
Break out the barbeque sauce, because Davis is serving up some ribs. Khris Davis scuffled badly in the final weeks of spring training, so it was great to see him start the year off on the right foot with a big Opening Day.
Welington Castillo (C, Chicago White Sox): 0-for-5, K
Wellington Castillo was the only player on the White Sox to not reach base in their 14-7 rout of the Royals. Castillo gets the Runt of the Litter award for not managing to push his way into the feeding frenzy that was taking place yesterday when Chicago racked up 14 hits. I guess in this analogy hits are nipples. Let’s move on.
Matt Davidson (3B/DH, Chicago White Sox): 3-for-4, 4 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI, BB
Speaking of taking advantage of yesterday’s blowout, Batt Davidson went yard three times and is your MLB home run leader. Was this a one-night bland? Or the beginning of a long-lasting, beautiful relationship? Search your heart for the answer. And if you can’t find it there, flip a coin or something, because who knows.
Tim Anderson (SS, Chicago White Sox): 2-for-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, K, BB
Mr. Anderson hacked into the Matrix on Thursday and realized that all he had to do to hit for power was believe that he could. A nice start to the year for the Chicago shortstop/future leader of the rebellion against the robots.
Freddie Freeman (1B, Atlanta Braves): 1-for-2, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB
Three runs and three walks? That sounds like a lot of footwork, I hope Freddie has cleats with arch support. Freeman kicked off the Gabe Kapler Embarrassment Tour with a bang, playing a pivotal role in the Braves five-run comeback against the Phillies on Thursday. These past few weeks have been dark, dark times for fingers and hands, but as long as Freeman avoids another unfortunate injury he could be in store for a special season.
Jake Lamb (3B, Arizona Diamondbacks): 2-for-5, 4 RBI, 2 K
Lamb plated half of the Diamondbacks’ runs in their win over the Rockies, but good things usually tend to happen as long as he’s not facing a lefty; Lamb has hit just .158 against lefties in his career. If he can improve against them this year he could take a big step forward.