Surprises Fill the First Month of the Baseball Season

May 01, 2009 | Tom Clayton

We are a month into the major league baseball season and there have been more surprises than an M. Night Shyamalan movie.  Pitching prospects have turned into full fledged aces, perennial cellar dwellers are in first place, and the Mets, Cubs, Angels, and Rays are all under .500. 


The economy has hit baseball attendance hard with stadium half full and even forcing the almighty Yankees to lower ticket prices in the first season of the new Yankee Stadium.


There have been a lot of great stories during the first month of the season,


Zack Grienke, Starting Pitcher, Kansas City Royals

2009- 5-0  0.50ERA  36.0IP  2 ER’s  24Hits  44K’s  8BB’s  2CG’s  0.89whip


Grienke the Royals first round selection in the 2002 MLB Draft looked as if he was going to be an average major league starter after 5 major league seasons.  With a career record of 34-45 and an ERA of 4.80 coming into the 2009 season  Playing on a terrible Royals team that was projected to finish below .500, it looked as if Grienke would struggle again.  Most “experts” were very wrong.


The Royals are leading the AL Central with a record of 12-10.  As for Grienke, in his five starts so far in 2009 he is leading all three of the pitching Triple Crown categories; leading the majors in wins (5), ERA (0.50), and strikeouts (44).  Grienke has become a true ace this season; he didn’t give up his first earned run until Wednesday night against the Blue Jays.


Grienke as ridiculous command as evident by his preposterous K/BB ratio of 44/8 this season.  The 25 year old right hander has a fastball that sits in the low 90’s, slider, curve, and change.  While Grienke isn’t the hardest thrower on the mound, he does an outstanding spotting his pitches and changing speeds to keep hitters off balance.


Felix Hernandez, Staring Pitcher, Seattle Mariners

2009 – 4-0  2.38ERA  34.0IP  9ER’s  27 Hits 36K’s  10BB’s  1.09whip


King Felix was widely considered the best pitching prospect in baseball just four years ago. After being called up to the majors at just 19 years of age, Hernandez has gone through some tumultuous seasons in Seattle amassing a career record of 39-36 over his first four major league seasons.  Nobody ever doubted Felix’s stuff; he has a fastball that can hit triple digits on the radar gun with a devastating curve, and a strong change, all of which he can throw at anytime in the count.


Going into 2009 Felix probably had the least amount of pressure he has ever had in his professional career.  After losing a 101 games last season in the upper north-west Felix wasn’t the most high profile player on most people’s radar; well perhaps not only Felix but the entire Mariners team should have been. The Mariners lead the AL West by 2.5 games with a record of 13-9 and Felix is a front


The Mariners resurgence has been lead by Felix, who at 23 years old seems to have reached a level of maturity and mental toughness to go along with his otherworldly natural talent.