It’s hard to believe, but we’re already into June. This past week, we saw the first no-hitter of this young season and a little bit of roughhousing in Boston.
Even with those two things mentioned, there was much more that went on this week. Let’s get to it!
Tanaka Continues To Shine
I’ll admit it; I was someone who doubted Masahiro Tanaka’s ability to make the transition from Japan to the MLB. Clearly I, and everyone else who made that assumption has been proven incorrect thus far by the Japanese sensation, as he’s dazzled everyone in his first couple of months in the league.
Up to this point, he’s currently sitting second in the majors in wins and fourth in ERA, with 8 and 2.06 in each category, respectively. Even for his biggest fans, these incredible results have to come as a bit of a surprise as most players have a little bit of a transition period before they start to take off.
That has not been the case for Tanaka, obviously, and that’s due to his impressive ability to keep the ball in the strike zone and make hitters miss. In K/BB, he’s in good company right now with names like David Price, Cliff Lee and Zack Grienke surrounding him in the standings and that’s something that should prove to stay constant if his track record in Japan holds up.
While I still think that the amount of pitches that he threw in Japan over the last seven years (as well as more scouting reports that will be available as the season wears on) will catch up to him, it’s quite impressive to see what he’s done to this point. How did you feel about Tanaka coming into the year, and do you think he’ll be another fluke like Dice-K?
AL East Sluggers Find Power Stroke
In another instance where I’m going to have to admit that I’m wrong, Nelson Cruz has put together quite an unbelievable season thus far. Along with him, Edwin Encarnacion has been one of the hottest hitters in the game this entire month and he picked things up this last week especially.
Starting with Cruz, an Orioles-signee this past offseason, he has completely broken the mold of the player he has been to this point in his career. I have previously written about why teams should avoid signing him (poor average, poor defense, strikes out too often, etc.) but he’s completely proven me wrong. He’s hitting .315 currently with a league-leading 20 home runs and the surprising part is that he doesn’t really show too many indicators of regression.
Next is Encarnacion, who emerged as one of the best power hitters in the game with his 2012 breakout season. He started off slow in April, but he’s came out swinging in May, to the tune of 16 home runs in the month. That number was tied for the highest in American League history, and it was only 2 away from the league record.
In what has become known as a bit of a pitcher’s era in baseball, it’s refreshing to see guys like Cruz and Encarnacion still make a living off of hitting the deep ball. Who is your favorite power hitter in the game today, and why?
Dr. James Andrews Speaks Out About Tommy John Surgery
In a topic that has been covered by every baseball website known to man, the rise in Tommy John surgeries has become quite a problem for pitchers throughout the game of baseball. This has especially been made an issue due to the quality of pitchers that have recently gone down (Jose Fernandez, Matt Moore, etc.).
Dr. James Andrews, the man who performs most of these surgeries (as well as many others throughout the four major American sports) has made some news over the past week regarding his thoughts on the issue, as well as suggesting a few ways that it could be avoided in the future.
A few of the key notes of a position statement that he released were that (in disagreement with many youth coaches over the years) throwing curveballs at an early age doesn’t necessarily hurt the arm. The real factors that need to be focused on, according to Andrews, are that winter ball should be discouraged, PED’s should be avoided, as should throwing at maximum effort at all times.
Along with this position statement, Dr. Andrews is also releasing an iOS app that will help prevent pitching injuries. There will be tips for warm-up routines and workouts, as well as a pitch counter that will give feedback on when it would be safe for the pitcher to throw again. This is a huge step in preventing future Tommy John surgeries and it’s great that such a highly esteemed name such as Andrews is at the forefront. If you were a pitcher (or parent, or coach) would you download this new app?
This Week’s MVP: Khris Davis (.522/.577/1.130, 3 HR, 6 RBI)
This Week’s CY Young: Josh Beckett (1-0, 1.29 ERA, 11 K, No-Hitter)