The first week or so of the MLB season has featured plenty of surprises. The defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox are just 2-8 and Seattle Mariners’ infielder Tim Beckham has been the most valuable player in baseball based on Fangraphs WAR. This can just go to show that trying to make any meaningful conclusions from this early on is a dangerous exercise. It’s certainly possible that the Red Sox will finish in last place and Beckham will put together a career year since nobody can tell the future exactly, but the general rule is that things will even out toward expectations.
Neither the Red Sox or Beckham have much to do with the Cincinnati Bearcats playing at the MLB level, but what we’ve seen (or not seen) in the first few games doesn’t mean that’s all we can expect the rest of the season.
Harrison certainly has to hope that the small sample size of the first few games is not an indication of how the rest of 2019 is going to go. The two-time All-Star has really struggled at the plate for his new team, slashing just .129/.250/.379 in his first 36 plate appearances with the Detroit Tigers. Of his four total hits, none has gone for extra bases and he has struck out more than twice as much as he has walked. Part of the issue has been a bit less patience, as he has swung at pitches outside of the zone at a 42.9 percent rate, which, if it held, would be a career-high. Obviously its way too early to expect that, but for now that has kept his production near the bottom of the league. In fact, with an OPS+ of just 12, he has been 88 percent below league average as a hitter.
The Tigers have somehow started 6-3 despite Harrison’s troubles, which is particularly impressive since Harrison has hit leadoff in all eight games he has played. However, he has been solid defensively at second base, with one defensive run saved already, as well as on the base paths, with two stolen bases. Now he just needs to get back to his normal hitting production.
Happ had a pretty miserable spring, slashing .135/.196/.125 with zero home runs in 56 plate appearances during camp with the Chicago Cubs. That’s why he’s down with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs to work on his approach. In his first 14 plate appearances, the returns have been so-so. He is batting .286 with six RBI and a pair of doubles, but he has yet to work a walk or hit a home run. If we are being patient with Harrison, we need to be even more so with Happ since 14 plate appearances is a pretty useless sample to evaluate a player. As he continues to work his way back toward the MLB level, Happ will need to prove that the spring and this brief start are just rough patches.
Walsh made his first appearance of the season for the Double-A Birmingham Barons on April 5 against the Biloxi Shuckers. The 26-year-old right-hander threw one shutout inning and struck out a pair of batters in 5-0 loss.
Atkinson is also plying his trade in Double-A. As a pitcher for the Jackson Generals, he has begun the season out of the bullpen. It remains to be seen if this will be a permanent shift since 53 of his 65 total professional appearances have been starts, but that’s where he is for now. He performed well in his first outing, striking out four batters in two shutout innings against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp on April 4. His control was not entirely locked in, however, as he walked a pair of batters as well.
Noda has taken another step forward in his progression through the Toronto Blue Jays’ system, as he opened this season with the Single-A advanced Dunedin Blue Jays. In 13 at-bats across three games, he is slashing .231/.333/.308 with two RBI and one extra-base hit. It’s not a Beckham-like start, but there is still time.
Rodriguez has been promoted to the Single-A advanced level this season. As an infielder for the St. Lucie Mets, he has batted six times in two games and produced a .167/.286/.167 slash line.
Just like many of his former teammates in the minor leagues, Aldred has had little chance to make a major impact. Pitching for the Greensboro Grasshoppers, a Single-A club in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ system, Alldred has thrown two shutout innings across two appearances.
In his first professional look last season, McVey showed off some solid plate discipline, with a .390 on-base percentage across 82 at-bats in rookie ball. That may have been the reason he was promoted to Single-A to play for the Wisconsin Timbler Rattlers to start this campaign. He has gone without a hit in his first two games for the Milwaukee Brewers’ affiliate, but does have a walk in six at-bats.
Perez was assigned to the Elizabethton Twins last summer and they don’t begin their season until April 18.
Updated: The Elizabethton Twins start their season on June 18. We apologize for the error.