Boyd Bergquist’s Baseball Breakdown – The 2019 Memorial Day Edition
EDITOR’S NOTE: Boyd Bergquist was the sports director at KETS-TV in East Tree Stump, Nebraska for almost 40 years. Known across the Husker state as the voice of the Boy’s High School Basketball Tournament, Bergquist was a four-time winner of the Marv J. Butz “Golden Cob” Award For Excellence In Nebraska Broadcast Journalism. That background, along with his quick if not cliché-riddled wit and love of single-malt scotch makes Bergquist a perfect fit to be our “Question” guy, but today, he’s here to dish up a preview of the upcoming baseball season.
Baseball season is like a long horse race, which is why I like to break it down in four parts. We’ve already seen the start, and later in the season we will revisit on Independence Day which marks the half-way point and Labor Day which is all about heading into the home stretch. But today is all about Memorial Day, which marks the “far turn.” So today we will look at my initial categorizations of all 30 major-league baseball teams and compare that to where they are a quarter of the way into that long race which is baseball season.
If you recall, I’m not about the usual “power ranking” stuff. Instead, I’ started this season by breaking down all 30 major league squads into six easy-to-understand groups based on what I thought these teams could realistically expect in 2019. Those original six categories were as follows.
- Ready To Win Right Now: These are teams which are ready to climb the mountain right now…no ifs, ands or buts.
- There’s Just One Thing Missing: Did you ever almost complete a jigsaw puzzle, but the three pieces you have remaining don’t fit the holes you have left? Welcome to the stories of these teams.
- Need Some Things To Go Their Way: Welcome to a collection of clubs who almost have the goods to win on their own; but anything is possible if they get more than one “lucky break.”
- At Least They Don’t Suck: Do I really need to explain this one?
- Why Wait For Next Year? One way or another, these teams need to make a decision about the future.
- It’s Going To Be A Long Summer: Everybody has hope on Opening Day, but some lose it far faster than others.
Now that the race is underway, at the “far turn,” I now have six new categories which again should be fairly self-explanatory.
Just As We Expected
- Houston Astros: Original Category – Ready to Win Right Now: We’re just over 50 games into the season, and the Astros have already had two different 10-game winning streaks.
- New York Yankees: Original Category – Ready to Win Right Now: Only two teams in baseball have more wins than the Yanks despite the fact they are such a MASH unit Alan Alda is currently on their 26-man roster.
- Minnesota Twins: Original Category – Need Some Things To Go Their Way: There’s pretty much no way you can say things aren’t breaking the Twins’ way. They are knocking the cover off the ball, they are getting career years out of the lion’s share of the rotation, and nobody else in the AL Central seems to be up to the task of stopping Minnesota’s march to a division title.
- Milwaukee Brewers: Original Category – There’s Just One Thing Missing: The knock on the Brew Crew was they never bother to bring their bats on the road. They’ve solved that, but they still could use a big-time arm at the top of their rotation.
- Miami Marlins: Original Category – It’s Going To Be A Long Summer: Be honest…who didn’t really know this team had no chance?
- Baltimore Orioles: Original Category – It’s Going To Be A Long Summer: See the Miami Marlins.
So Far, So Good
- Philadelphia Phillies: Original Category – Need Some Things To Go Their Way: Not only did they win the off-season, but now even with Bryce Harper being on a milk carton for large parts of the season, they are still staying 10 games above .500 smack-dab in the middle of what is the toughest stretch of their season so far.
- Tampa Bay Rays: Original Category – At Least They Don’t Suck: The dirty little secret about the Rays is that after their torrid start, signs point to them reverting to being a .500 team. But this is the time they can show us something by beating some good teams.
- Atlanta Braves: Original Category – There’s Just One Thing Missing: The future is “gotta wear shades” bright for the Braves as they have Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies, and Ronald Acuna, Jr., all under the age of 23 years old. The original question was could Mike Foltynewicz stack up as front of the rotation guy against the NL East aces like Max Scherzer, Jacob DeGrom, and Jake Arrieta? I’ll say the jury is still out on that one, but that has been offset by the emergence of Mike Soroka.
- Chicago Cubs: Original Category – There’s Just One Thing Missing: Since their opening road trip, the North Siders have won 10 series since (not including the current one). They did that despite a bullpen almost as bad as Washington’s.
- Oakland Athletics: Original Category – There’s Just One Thing Missing: Get ready, because this is usually where the A’s turn it on in the years when they make a move.
Off To A Great Start, But There’s A Lot of Season Left
- Los Angeles Dodgers: Original Category – There’s Just One Thing Missing: The Dodgers have avoided major injury problems…so far. Yeah, I know the Dodgers have been to two straight World Series, which to me has only shown the gulf between them and the Astros and Red Sox.
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Original Category – It’s Going To Be A Long Summer: This team got off to an amazing start, but they just don’t have the ponies for the long haul.
- San Diego Padres: Original Category – At Least They Don’t Suck: Despite their current record, I still don’t think this team is ready to play .500 ball yet, but there’s no denying this could be the dawn of a new era in San Diego.
- Texas Rangers: Original Category – It’s Going To Be A Long Summer: 36-year-old Hunter Pence is hitting .304 with 8 home runs and 33 RBI. How long is that going to last?
- Cincinnati Reds: Original Category – At Least They Don’t Suck: On the downside, the Reds are in last place again. But on the upside, as of yesterday, Cincinnati is 22-20 after posting a 1-8 start. Not to mention, this team is just plain fun to watch because they can pitch..
- Arizona Diamondbacks: Original Category – It’s Going To Be A Long Summer: This team has spent most of May regressing from a season-high seven games over .500.
It’s Not “Panic” Time…Yet
- Boston Red Sox: Original Category – Ready to Win Right Now: We all know the Sox took a tremendous tumble out of the gate, but they will be just fine.
- St. Louis Cardinals: Original Category – Ready to Win Right Now: I originally said adding professional thunder-bat Paul Goldschmidt was supposed to make the Cardinals the favorite to win the NL Central. But right now the Cardinal bats are in hibernation which has seen them go from a 20-10 start to hovering around .500. Despite that, they are still in the thick of the NL Central race.
- Los Angeles Angels: Original Category – Need Some Things To Go Their Way: The Angels seems to love two-way players now. We all know about Shohei Ohtani, but recently the Angels called up Jared Walsh, who was killing it in the minors to the tune .302/.398/.604 with 10 homers in 139 at-bats. Oh by the way, he also pitched five innings with a 3.60 ERA. That be interesting, but nobody’s going to win with these sideshow attractions.
- New York Mets: Original Category – Why Wait for Next Year? The definition of “warning sign:” Here’s a team who had their two best pitchers on the mound (Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard) and still dropped those games to a team which may not win 50 games.
Better Figure It Out Quick
- Washington Nationals: Original Category – Ready to Win Right Now: When was the last time you saw a team with three #1 pitchers in the rotation and a slew of quality bats which only 50-some games in was already 10 games under .500? Luckily, the Nats are 5-5 in their past three series and their next eight games come against the Mets and Marlins. If there was ever a time to right the ship, now is it.
- Colorado Rockies: Original Category – There’s Just One Thing Missing: This team rebounded from a 3-12 start by finishing April with a 12-5 mark. But since then, the Rockies’ ship has hit the rocks, they’ve slowly been taking on water since.
- Cleveland Indians: Original Category – Need Some Things To Go Their Way: Well, that’s clearly not happening. Two lynch-pins of their rotation are hurt (Mike Clevinger and Corey Kluber), Carlos Santana is really the only guy doing anything at the plate, and the Minnesota Twins are leaving the rest of the AL Central in their wake.
- San Francisco Giants: Original Category – Why Wait for Next Year? This is what I said at the beginning of the season: “The “World Series” era is over. Sell it all right now. Need a front-of-the rotation pitcher who can also slug? Are you an AL contender who needs an MVP-caliber aging catcher who can still be a dangerous DH? Call 1-800-SFGIANTS…if they are smart, they’ll be waiting for your call.” It’s all still true; just add Will Smith to the coming “Yard Sale.”
It’s Not Too Early To Say It’s Over
- Seattle Mariners: Original Category – At Least They Don’t Suck: This team is second only the the “Murderer’s Row” Minnesota Twins in terms of home runs and RBIs. But they are in last place because they have the third-worst team ERA in the bigs.
- Toronto Blue Jays: Original Category – Why Wait for Next Year? Vladimir Guerrero Jr, is the future of this team. Plan accordingly.
- Chicago White Sox: Original Category – Why Wait for Next Year? Being a fan of this team must be like getting romanced by a super-model, then taking a full-on MMA kick in the groin. Considering the fact the Whiteys are…all things considered…playing pretty decent baseball, that has to sky-rocket the collective blood pressure of the fan base given the fact his team did nothing in the off-season. Despite the fact this is for all intents and purposes a glorified Triple-A team, they are still only five games under .500. Imagine the difference just one other bat to go along with Jose Abreu and/or one starting pitcher could have made. I said it before and I’ll say it again. This franchise is an embarrassment.
- Detroit Tigers: Original Category – Why Wait for Next Year? Not long ago, this team was hovering around .500. Then their bats pulled a “Jimmy Hoff” and disappeared from the face of the earth. Only the Marlins have driven in less runs than the Tigers. That ain’t good.
- Kansas City Royals: Original Category – At Least They Don’t Suck: I was wrong. They do suck.
I’ll be back to review this again on Independence Day. In the meantime, enjoy your Memorial Day and remember why this day exists…it isn’t just a day for you to not got to work and have a cook-out.
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