21 games so far this season, that is it. Twenty-one, or in other terms 16 percent of the season, not much for a sample size. Some major news sources, including MLB Network and Bleacher Report, have said that some teams are out of playoff contention. Here is my reaction:
Yes, there are some teams that we always say are out of it, such as the Atlanta Braves or San Diego Padres, the perennial bottom feeders, and teams without much expectations. Then other teams are getting dismissed, such as The Mets, Giants, Pirates, Blue Jays, and even the Royals. Teams that have all gone to the playoffs, and most to the World Series.
So why discount these teams and think that they can’t come back? Well one, the storylines and click bait, but another one being the need to try and separate pretenders from contenders. On the former point, every year in April this happens, not only standings and teams but also stats. For example, every year some analysts ask “Is x player’s y stat line sustainable event though he has never done this?” Approximately 10 games into the season.
This year’s example of this is Eric Thames who is hitting .373 with 10 home runs in 19 games, even though he is a career .261 hitter and only had 31 home runs coming into the season. The only reason those career numbers are so small is that coming into the season he only had 180 games in four years. Then moved over to Japan to play where he got a lot more playing time, an average of 130 games compared to 50, and hit an average of 40 home runs in the time. It is entirely possible that he can sustain these numbers.
Moving on to the real topic, counting out teams less than 20 games into the season. How can you know exactly how any teams is going to fair less than a fifth into the season? The biggest games back difference is 7 that belongs to the Giants, and they aren’t even fully healthy! Imagine if they get healthy how good they can be, and how much they can make a run like every year, to get back into the conversation of playoff contention.
Most of these analysts waste their time in the preseason, and early regular season, trying to predict who is the best teams and which will make the playoffs. Every year there are some surprises for every team, both good and bad. Who could have predicted DJ LeMahieu would have led the league in hitting, Mark Trumbo would win the home run title, or even Kyle Kendricks leading in ERA. They wrote all of those players off after a slow start to the season, except Kendricks, and even teams such as the Giants, Mets, and even the Indians who went to the World Series.
Let’s put it this way; these analysts just like to stir the pot and need something to say in this internet age of everything changing quickly. They know that everything they say is premature but need to keep up with the “hot take” types of Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith to remain relevant.