Major League Baseball started the 2023 season on Thursday, March 30, and with that has come many hot starts, cold streaks and historic feats being accomplished around the league.
The first week of the season featured many rookie debuts, with some of the most notable being New York Yankees’ top prospect, shortstop Anthony Volpe, St. Louis Cardinals’ top prospect, outfielder Jordan Walker and Baltimore Orioles’ top prospect, starting pitcher Grayson Rodriguez.
Volpe has taken over as the starting shortstop for the Yankees, sending last year’s starter, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, to play center field and third base more than shortstop. Walker has made an instant impact at the plate for the Cardinals, turning in a .333 batting average, a .902 OPS, and hitting his first MLB home run on Wednesday, April 5. Rodriguez made his first start against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, April 5. He threw five innings, allowing four hits, two earned runs, one walk and five strikeouts and ended up receiving a no decision, meaning he left the game without earning a statistical win or loss.
After a week of games, the standings are being led by most of the powerhouses expected to perform well this year with the exception of one surprise team, the Los Angeles Angels, who are tied for first in the American League West with the Texas Rangers. As for the powerhouses, the Cleveland Guardians hold a 5-2 record in first place in the AL Central, the Atlanta Braves hold a 5-1 record in first place in the National League East, the Milwaukee Brewers are turning in a 5-1 record and first place in the NL Central, the Los Angeles Dodgers hold a 4-2 record and first place in the NL West, and the Tampa Bay Rays hold the best record in baseball, at 6-0, the first team undefeated in six games since 2016, and sit in first place in the NL East.
Some of the new rules the MLB has implemented, including the pitch clock, have led to a few violations from players. Chicago Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman committed the first pitch clock violation in MLB history, and Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers committed the first pitch clock violation as a batter. In a unique instance, San Diego Padres third baseman, Manny Machado, received a pitch clock violation after not being granted a time out, and after an argument with the home plate umpire, was ejected from the game in the first inning on Tuesday, April 4.
Another one of the new features in MLB this year, the bigger bases, has led to a rise in stolen bases and stolen base attempts. According to Fox Sports, on the 2022 opening weekend, there were 29 stolen bases in 43 attempts. This year on the 2023 opening weekend, there were 70 stolen bases in 84 attempts. This is a significant jump from last year and will most likely continue trending upward as the season goes on.
Some significant performances from around baseball in the first week include players such as Chicago Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson and Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Trayce Thompson. Swanson has started his Cubs career at an impressive pace, recording 10 hits in 20 at bats, recording two RBI’s and putting up a 1.183 OPS. Swanson signed a seven-year, $177 million deal with the Cubs this offseason and has put on a show so far in his career, showing both at the plate and on the field and making great defensive plays.
Trayce Thompson, meanwhile, has started the season with a .273 average but made his presence known on Saturday, April 1 when he launched three home runs and recorded eight RBIs in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Thompson became the first player since 1920 to drive in at least 8 RBIs in their first start of the season since RBI became an official statistic, per ESPN.
The 2023 MLB season also holds the potential for a few players to accomplish significant milestones. Fans have already witnessed Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber hit his 200th career home run and White Sox second baseman Elvis Andrus record his 2000th career hit. Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Zack Greinke sits 110 strikeouts away from 3,000 career strikeouts, alongside Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw, also on the verge of 3,000 strikeouts, needing only 184 strikeouts to hit that mark. New York Mets ace starting pitchers Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer both sit less than 200 strikeouts away from overtaking Hall of Fame starting pitcher Greg Maddux for 10th all-time in MLB in strikeouts.
Some notable league leaders on the offense include Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds, who leads MLB with four home runs, Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Brian Anderson and Chicago Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson, tied with a league leading .500 batting average, with Anderson also leading MLB with a 1.621 OPS. Notable leaders on the pitching side include 16 pitchers tied with a 0.00 ERA, Miami Marlins ace starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara, who leads MLB with 14.2 innings pitched, and New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, leading MLB with 19 strikeouts.
With Major League Baseball only a week into a 162 game season, look for many of these statistics to change, more MLB debuts to come and a competition in many divisions throughout the league.