No game to talk about yesterday, so this will be a quick little hit on how the top FA of 2014 have performed so far.
1. Robinson Cano – .326/.396/.370 (109 wRC+)
Cano hasn’t exactly done the heavy lifting for the Mariners, but Smoak, Zunino, and Ackley have been more than sufficient so far.
2. Jacoby Ellsbury – .362/.423/.447 (152 wRC+)
Ellsbury has been pretty great so far. Jacoby has more walks than strikeouts (always a good sign), and while defensive metrics haven’t really been kind, they need seasons to stabilize so it’s irrelevant. He even has 6 SB so far.
3. Shin-Soo Choo – .281/.449/.378 (139 wRC+)
My man-crush on Choo was apparent to everyone who read this site in the past half of a year. While even I don’t think he’ll keep getting on base 45% of the time, I feel safe projecting him to be in the league’s top 10 in that category for the whole year. Choo is clearly the Rangers’ best position player at this point, which speaks both to how great Choo is and how bad Fielder has been.
4. Masahiro Tanaka – 1-0, 14IP, 18 K, 1 BB, 2 HR, 3.21 ERA, 2.63 FIP
Tanaka reminds me a lot of Jeff Samardzija. They both have sublime splitters (the 2 best in the league?), they both have plus fastballs, and they are both going to give up 10-15 long home runs a year by grooving a busted splitter or slidepiece up in the zone. Both of Tanaka’s HR (to Schoop and Me. Cabrera) were at the very top of the zone on either side of the plate. Other than those 2 mistakes, Tanaka has been everything you could ask for. We get him tonight.
5. Brian McCann – .205/.239/.364 (wRC+ 64)
At least he Plays The Game The Right Way. He had a 2-HR game a few days ago, but has been extremely silent since then. Luckily for him, random scrubs on the team have picked up the slack so far – it’s still really early.
6. Ervin Santana – 1-0, 14 IP, 17 K, 2 BB, 1 HR, 0.64 ERA, 2.06 FIP
At 1 year, $14.1 million, Santana looks like he could be an absolute steal for the Braves. They aren’t going to flip him to a contender for prospects like the Cubs might have, because they ARE a contender. That being said, his two outings this year have come against the Phillies and the Mets.
7. Matt Garza – 0-2, 21 IP, 17 K, 4 BB, 3.43 ERA, 3.94 FIP
Garza has been pretty average so far in the young season, but he’s also been saddled with an uncharacteristically low strand rate (50.8%), which is anomalous and will improve. He’s kept the walks to a minimum, which is a key to his success. The Brewers have lost twice in Garza starts and once in non-Garza starts.
8. Hiroki Kuroda – 2-1, 18.2 IP, 14 K, 4 BB, 3.86 ERA, 3.67 FIP
Kuroda is the same pitcher he’s always been, getting the same results he always does. There was never a chance that the Yankees weren’t re-signing him or he wasn’t going to retire, so no use dwelling on this one. He’s also 39, so Father Time is going to visit eventually.
9. A.J. Burnett – 0-1, 16.0 IP, 10 K, 14 BB, 3.94 ERA, 5.69 FIP
I joked earlier on that Burnett did the NL Central a solid by telling the Pirates he was going to retire (so they didn’t QO him), and then un-retiring to sign un-restricted. If Burnett is toast, though, I’d have liked him to stay in Pittsburgh! He can’t stop walking people, which has been a constant theme in his career. However, this year he couples that with a K% less than half of last year. He’s down a mile or so off his fastball and curveball, but the kicker is that his fastball hasn’t bit (down an inch of movement from last year). In turn, he’s relied heavily on a sinker that nobody is swinging at.
10. Carlos Beltran – .311/.347/.622 (159 wRC+)
Beltran has been better than arguably even Ellsbury. The Yankees outfield has as a whole been splendid (must be nice), and has been the only reason the Yankees are treading water on the young season. Gardner/Beltran/Ellsbury were all in various states of availability this offseason, fwiw.
This all comes with the “it’s still really, really early” caveat. On the whole, most of these signings have worked out. In 2018, if the Cubs are good, we’ll see if any of these would have been a good idea for them too.