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Overreacting to Four Games

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Fact: The Yankees are 3-1.
Reaction: They’re going to win three-fourths of their games because they’re better than the 1927 and 1998 teams!
Correct Reaction? Heck no. There have been only ten .700 teams in baseball history, and just three since World War II. This team’s dicey starting rotation make it unlikely that it will be the fourth. Almost every team wins three of four at some point during the season, so we shouldn’t overate this nice opening stretch.

Fact: Derek Jeter is hitting .143 after four games, having gone just 2-for-14 so far.
Reaction: Aaaagh! The Captain is ready for retirement!
Correct Reaction? No. Jeter isn’t suddenly done, but this slow opening should give pause to those who assumed he would snap back to his old form based on a few spring training singles.

Fact: Alex Rodriguez is slugging .929!
Reaction: Here comes another MVP award!
Correct Reaction? Maybe. Rodriguez isn’t going to maintain that extra-Ruthian slugging percentage, but his spring training performance was a reminder of what a healthy Rodriguez looked like. A-Rod has not crossed the 40-home run threshold since 2007, but he might have one more big year left in his bat now that he’s over last season’s physical problems.

Fact: The Chamberlain-Soriano-Rivera relay looks invulnerable.
Reaction: The Yankees aren’t going to blow a single lead this year!
Correct Reaction? They will blow a few somewhere, but the unit should be fairly solid. Chamberlain is still likely to be erratic, but that’s why David Robertson is around. As for Boone Logan, Bartolo Colon, and Luis Ayala/Pedro Feliciano, the less seen of them in high-leverage (or any leverage) situations, the better.

Fact: Phil Hughes’ velocity is down.
Reaction: Here comes the 60-Day DL!
Correct Reaction? The best that can be said is, "Wait and see."

Fact: Brett Gardner hasn’t hit and has taken just one walk in four games.
Reaction: What, he has to be hurt to be as selective as last year?
Correct Reaction? It’s something I was worried about, but it’s early to come to any conclusions. He smoked two balls on Monday night, one of which would have been an easy triple had Delmon Young not made a diving catch. As for the lack of walks, Gardner has always been patient, but not as patient as his wrist forced him to be in the second half of 2010. He kept it up in spring training, but it’s not surprising that he’s gotten a bit jumpy now that the games matter.

Two Off-Campus Matters

I’ll be doing a live chat at Baseball Prospectus today, Tuesday, at 1 PM EST. All are welcome, and you can get your questions in at any time.

    On the evening of April 14, I will be appearing at the Museum of the City of New York speaking about Casey Stengel as part of a program dedicated to the great manager. It sounds like it will be a great show about a terrific personality, so I hope to see you there.