Early MLB Surprises – Player Edition

Continued from below, here is part two of 2010’s early season surprises – player edition.

Carlos Ruiz – Catcher, Philadelphia Phillies

Ruiz currently sits 4th overall in the major leagues with a .354 average, leading the Phillies to a first place perch in the NL East.  Carlos is a career .246 hitter, and with well over 1,000 career AB it seems outrageous to think that he can keep this start going.  Enjoy it while it lasts Phillies fans.

Alex Gonzalez – Shortstop, Toronto Blue Jays

Signed primarily for his defense, Gonzalez has been lights out power-wise for the Jays in the early part of 2010.  His 10 HR are tied for the second-most in baseball and give him two more than he had in all of 2009 (391 AB).  While he has shown traces of power in his career before (23 bombs in 2004 with Florida), he is knocking balls over the fence with much more frequency than anybody could have imagined (1 HR per 13.7 AB this year, 1 HR per 38.5 AB the rest of his career).

Barry Zito – Starting Pitcher, San Francisco Giants

Coming into 2010 Barry Zito was a bust, vastly underperforming his massive contract.  But so-far-so-good in 2010.  Zito has sparkled to a 5-0 record with a 1.49 ERA and 28 K in 42.1 IP, lasting about 7 innings per start.  In his three prior years with the Giants those numbers were much uglier: 31-43, 4.56 ERA, and only an average of 5.8 innings per start.  Combined with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez, Zito has given the Giants a formidable rotation.

Tyler Clippard – Relief Pitcher, Washington Nationals

The surprise here isn’t so much who the player is – Clippard has proven to be a capable or above-average reliever the past few seasons.  No, the surprise is the fact that a relief pitcher has six wins in the beginning of May.  Vulture wins come and go with middle relievers, and often don’t even depend on the quality of the arm.  But the fact that Clippard is 6-0 with a 0.76 ERA and over a strikeout-per-inning is very impressive.

Aaron Hill – Second Base, Toronto Blue Jays

This might be a bit unfair since Hill missed 14 games at the beginning of the season with a hamstring injury.  But after winning the comeback player of the year in 2009, nobody expected this stat line from Hill in mid-May: .190 AVG / 10 R / 2 HR / 6 RBI.  Hopefully a 2/3 performance on Sunday afternoon will help awaken his bat.

Curtis Granderson – Outfield, New York Yankees

When acquired by the Yankees in the offseason, huge things were predicted for Granderson.  Moving to the new Yankee Stadium with its short porch in right field was supposed to bring huge numbers, especially considering his 30 bombs last season.  But so far in 2010 he has disappointed to the tune of a .225 average and only 2 HR in 80 AB, and he is currently on the DL.

Josh Beckett – Starting Pitcher, Boston Red Sox

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the season thus far, Beckett has been downright horrendous.  Expected to join with Jon Lester and John Lackey to lead a fearsome Boston rotation, Beckett has only one win, with a god-awful 7.46 ERA and 1.66 WHIP.  On top of that he is single-handedly destroying my fantasy pitching staff.  The latest rumour has him possibly headed to the DL with back spasms.

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