Manny Machado has welcomed himself to the majors with huge offensive performances.
The Weekend Takeaway
Since 1970, only four players have kicked off their major-league careers by collecting at least one extra-base hit in each of their first four games. But before you start racking your brains for the answers to that bit of trivia, here’s a hint: Had I asked you the question in March, the only answer would have been Jason Bay.
During the past five months, three rookies have broken into a group that once was as exclusive as the 700-home run club. Between 1918 and Opening Day this year, only three players—Enos Slaughter (1938), Coco Laboy (1969), and Bay (2003)—accomplished the aforementioned feat. Yoenis Cespedes joined them in April. Will Middlebrooks, the only one since Slaughter to do it in five straight, got his membership card in May. And now, those five will have to make room for Manny Machado.
The first episode of BP's new daily podcast is ready for your ears, if your ears are ready for it.
After months of deliberation and well-intentioned procrastination, we've gotten the Effectively Wild podcast off the ground. Between Up and In and Tower of Power, BP is already well stocked with weekly podcasts, so we're trying to do something different: a much shorter podcast that appears much more often. Each time out, we'll pick an interesting topic or two from the previous night's news and action to discuss in depth, and with any luck, we'll wrap up the episode in around 10 minutes. The goal is to deliver new episodes daily (well, Monday through Friday) in time for your morning commute. We're figuring this out as we go, so suggestions and feedback are welcome. And yes, Ben knows that he called Zach BrittonChris Britton. He can't help it—he's been calling him Chris for years. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Sam said "douchebag" at some point, so we suppose this is explicit.
The Week in Quotes is a feature that ran roughly forever at BP, more or less from the advent of the site until last July, when it was temporarily retired. Since then, it's become the BP equivalent of Arrested Development—you've never stopped asking us to bring it back. Thanks to the hard work of BP interns Hudson Belinsky, Jonah Birenbaum, Andrew Koo, and Matthew Rocco, we are bringing it back, and unlike the new season of Arrested Development, you don't have to sign up for Netflix to see it. For the most part, we're following the old format, but we've also added a section for the week's best tweets by beat writers and players. Please let us know if there's anything else you'd like to see included.—Ben Lindbergh
A brutal eight-game losing streak has taken the Atlanta Braves from first to worst in the NL East.
The Weekend Takeaway
It’s not all that hard to go from first to last in nine days this early in the season. To do so as resoundingly as the Braves have, though, takes a special kind of awfulness.
At the end of play on May 20, Fredi Gonzalez’s team was 26-16 and enjoyed a 1 ½-game lead in the National League East. At the close of shop last night, the Braves had slipped to 26-24 and sat in a last-place tie with the Phillies, four games behind the first-place Nationals.
The Tampa Bay Rays have managed to stay in second place in the AL East despite the second-smallest run differential in the division.
The Wednesday Takeaway
Remember when the Rangers seemed like a juggernaut after starting the season with 17 wins in their first 23 games? Well, 23 days later, Ron Washington’s team is now tied with the Rays for the second-best record in the American League at 27-18, tied in the loss column with the 25-18 Indians, and a game behind the 28-17 Orioles. Since the end of April, the Orioles have gone 14-8, the Indians 13-9, the Rays 12-10, and the Rangers 10-12—including a just-completed 6-7 run while facing the Angels, Royals, Athletics, Astros, and Mariners.
Think that’s confusing? Then try to figure out the American League East.
The Orioles have the best record in the American League, but is this another early-season mirage?
Don't look now, but with Thursday's win over the Royals and losses by both the Rangers and Red Sox, the Orioles assumed the American League's best record at 25-14. They've built a modest buffer against at least some of the usual suspects, leading the Rays by one game in the AL East standings, the Blue Jays by four, the Yankees by four and a half, and the Sox by six and a half. It's the Orioles' best record at this juncture since they started 26-13 in 2005 and held onto first place in the division until June 23, 72 games into the season. Of course, that hot start turned out to be just another mirage, one of so many over the past 14 seasons en route to yet another losing record. Hell, the O's haven't even won 70 games since 2006. Does this hot start mean that Buck Showalter's bunch has turned the corner?
A look at the surprising early season success of Baltimore's hitters
Your computer is not broken. The Baltimore Orioles do indeed lead all of baseball in home runs this season with 56. They were quietly the fourth-best team last year with 191 home runs, trailing only the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rangers. Last season, the Orioles hit 1.18 home runs per game, but in 2012, that pace has spiked to 1.6 per contest… with essentially the same personnel as last year, no less. Nick Johnson—who anointed Joel Peralta his favorite pitcher this weekend when he took him deep twice—is the lone addition to the lineup.