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Random Opening Day Musings

Happy Opening Day! After what felt like an incredibly long March, the big day is finally here. I’ve had so many things floating around in my head about the first day of the season that I just decided to throw them all into one post.

First, if you’re going to be around a computer for the opener against the Reds, consider following along with a live chat. Brian Carriveau, editor of the Maple Street Press Brewers Annual and contributor at Pocket Doppler is hosting a Cover It Live chat, and I’ll be there helping out. Swing by later today, and I’ll have the chat embedded in a post here — you’ll be able to talk with fellow fans, follow along with the Twitter feeds of every MSP Annual contributor, vote in polls…if you’ve never been a part of a CIL chat, it’s a lot of fun.

Now for a few thoughts on the game and season…

– Yovani Gallardo will take the ball as the Brewers’ Opening Day starter for a second straight year, although that likely wasn’t the plan a month ago. He joins Ben Sheets, Cal Eldred, Ricky Bones, and Bill Wegman as Brewers starters to make more than one Opening Day start in the last 20 years. Unfortunately for the Brewers, other than Sheets, the Opening Day starter hasn’t had a whole lot of success the rest of the year.

Opening Day starters, with their (Baseball Reference) WAR for that season:
2010 – Yovani Gallardo // 2.1
2009 – Jeff Suppan // -1.9
2008 – Ben Sheets // 4.3
2007 – Ben Sheets // 3.0
2006 – Doug Davis // 1.5
2005 – Ben Sheets // 3.2
2004 – Ben Sheets // 6.3
2003 – Ben Sheets // 1.8
2002 – Ben Sheets // 2.4
2001 – Jamey Wright // 0.3
2000 – Steve Woodard // -1.1
1999 – Rafael Roque // 0.2
1998 – Cal Eldred // -0.5
1997 – Ben McDonald // 1.6
1996 – Ricky Bones // 0.4
1995 – Ricky Bones // 3.1
1994 – Cal Eldred // 2.7
1993 – Bill Wegman // 0.3
1992 – Bill Wegman // 4.7
1991 – Mark Knudson // -1.0

9 of the 14 “non-Sheets” starters went on to have a WAR of 1.5 or less. No wonder the team has struggled over the years.

– Everyone seems to be getting their predictions out and recorded so they can be made fun of at the All-Star Break, so here goes:

NL East: Philadelphia // NL Central: Cincinnati* // NL West: San Francisco // NL Wildcard: Atlanta
MVP: Jason Heyward
Cy Young: Tim Lincecum
ROY: Brandon Belt
(*I’m actually calling a tie atop the Central between the Reds and Brewers at about 87 wins. Cincinnati wins a one-game playoff, and we spend all winter blaming one specific game that went wrong instead of considering the myriad of reasons they could come up short)

AL East: Boston // AL Central: Chicago // AL West: Texas // AL Wildcard: Tampa Bay
MVP: Evan Longoria
Cy Young: CC Sabathia
ROY: Jeremy Hellickson

World Series: Boston over Atlanta

Brewers Batting MVP: Ryan Braun
Brewers Pitching MVP: Shaun Marcum
Brewers ROY: Brandon Kintzler

– It’s important to remember that we can’t get hung up on early results. If the Brewers lose their first series to the Reds, it doesn’t mean dark days are ahead. If they sweep the Reds, it doesn’t mean they’re playoff-bound. A three-game winning streak (or God forbid, losing streak) to start the year is no different than any three-game stretch in the middle of June. It’ll just stick out in our minds more because of the easily defined starting point. Remember the year the Brewers started 24-10? How did that year turn out?

Consider the fact that the 2010 San Francisco Giants started the year 13-9 and went on to have three months in which they were at or below .500. The 2009 Yankees who went on to win 103 games even started April that year at 12-10, and there was a lot of hand-wringing going on in New York at the time — trust me…I was there for it.

I’ll do my best to not get carried away if the Brewers start slowly, and I’ll try to do the same if they’re hot out of the gate (that’s not to say a big start would be bad — take a look at the June schedule and you’ll see why it would help to be good early).