Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Christian Yelich may end up with best March/April of all time

9 Comments

Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich enters Monday’s series opener against the Cardinals leading the league with 13 home runs and 31 RBI in 23 games to start the 2019 season. With eight games remaining in the month, it appears that Yelich will end up with the best March/April of all time — depending on which stats you value.

According to Baseball Reference, Yelich is already one of five players to hit at least 13 homers by the end of April, joining Álex Rodríguez (2007), Albert Pujols (2006), Luis González (2001), and Ken Griffey Jr. (1997). Rodríguez and Pujols hit 14 homers, and Rodríguez led the way with 34 RBI. It wouldn’t take much for Yelich to surpass those numbers. Yelich is also top-five in March/April OPS (1.315) behind Larry Walker (1997; 1.449), Barry Bonds (2002; 1.428), Pujols (2006; 1.423), and Cody Bellinger (2019; 1.382).

We should certainly acknowledge Bellinger’s torrid start to the 2019 season as well. He’s sitting on 11 homers and 28 RBI while leading the majors in batting average (.424), slugging percentage (.882), and OPS. He leads the National League in on-base percentage (.500) across 100 trips to the plate. With Yelich and Bellinger, we’re actually looking at two of the best opening months to a season in baseball history.

Yelich will be sad to leave town after Wednesday afternoon’s game in St. Louis. Of his 13 homers, eight have come in seven games against the Cardinals. The Brewers won’t meet up with the Cardinals again until August.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

Getty Images
6 Comments

The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.