For baseball fans in Chicago, things couldn't be better right now as both the sox and cubs are sitting atop of their respective divisions! Could this be a prelude to a Windy City Classic in October?
- A few of the bats that were extremely quiet in 2007 seem to have new life in 2008 much to the joy of all White Sox fans. Dye, Pierzynski, and Crede are sporting .344, .339, and .286 batting averages respectively, all with an OPS over .900.
- Nick Swisher is already looking to be a positive addition to this White Sox team. Although he is only batting .246, his OBP currently sits at .421 which puts him in the top 10 in the AL in OBP and makes him a comfortable option for the lead-off spot in that lineup.
- Jim Thome needs to bolster his performance in the middle of that lineup. I know I am saying this the day after a 4 hit game, but when you consider he had 4 hits and his average was raised from .172-.222, he hasn't exactly been killing the ball. Let's hope yesterday was a sign of things to come as he is currently on pace to bat in the low .200's with close to 170 strikeouts.
- Gavin Floyd... wow! Chicago has got to be excited about the start this kid has had. The 25 year old is currently boasting a 2-0 record in 3 games started with an ERA of 1.4 with a WHIP of 0.88. Opposing batters are hitting .140 against him. It will be interesting to see if he is able to sustain this success.
- Mark Buehrle has not quite looked himself thus far in 2008. Most feel as though Buehrle falls under the 'its early' category, but he certainly has not impressed in 2008 with an ERA of 5.96 and opposing batters hitting over .380 against him. I beleive Buehrle needs to pick things up and truly be the ace of this staff in order for the Sox to win the AL Central
And How bout those Cubbies?
- The offense has been nothing short of phenomenal to start the season. The Cubs currently sit right near the top of the league in runs scored, run differential, and about 6 players of their typical everyday lineup are batting over .300. Through 19 games, they have scored 119 runs.
- Carlos Zambrano is off to a great start as opposed to the abysmal April/May he had last season. Big Z has 4 quality starts in 5 outings with a 2.67 ERA. He has given up a few more hits than is typical but has only walked 5 while striking out 27 with a WHIP of 1.10. Cub fans would certainly like to see this Zambrano for the entire year.
- Ted Lilly and Rich Hill need to be solid pitchers for the Cubs to go deep in the playoffs. I thought Lilly was the Cubs most consistent pitcher last year, not with devastating stuff, but he always kept you in ball games. He needs to figure things out thus far as in 4 starts, he has an ERA over 9 and has only thrown 18 innings. If the Cubs truly want to make that big run this year, their rotation needs to be deep.
- Soriano needs to be taken out of the leadoff spot upon returning from injury. I have seen reports saying that the Cubs are better off without him, which I truly do not believe. He is a very talented player, but he needs to come to grips with the fact that he is not a lead-off hitter. If the Cubs lineup continues to produce how it has, it will be interesting to see how Lou handles the lineup card upon Soriano's return.
- How can you not like Kosuke Fukudome?!?! Fukudome is currently boasting a .328 BA with a .444 OBP and an OPS over .900. Another interesting statistic I heard regarding Fukudome is that he currently leads the majors in pitches per at bat. If he continues to produce and come through in big situations like he has already done this year, you will be hearing plenty of those "FU-KU-DO-ME!" chants at Wrigley!
Those were just some quick takes on what I have noticed from both the Sox/Cubs this year. Lets hope the first month of the season is just a mere preview of things to come with both teams currently in first place in their respective divisions. Although it is early, if you compare the start of the '08 season to the one from '07, Chicago Baseball fans should certainly be encouraged by what they have seen. There will be plenty more to come as the season unfolds and we are certainly looking forward to it.