Harper and Pujols' race for a homer
Plus talk of Zito's resurgence and the worst team in baseball
It's now May 2, and Albert Pujols still doesn't have a home run. You know who else doesn't? Bryce Harper. As someone asked on Twitter: Which one of them will homer first? The answer to that, plus talk of the worst team in baseball and Barry Zito's resurgence, in today's Triple Play.
1. Who will homer first: Pujols or Harper? (From @Izzy15Mercado)
Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick), ESPN.com
Harper. I would typically choose the guy who has 445 career homers over the kid still looking for his first. (Plus, Torii Hunter went from zero to four homers in less than a week, so there's hope for Albert to get hot in a hurry.) But Harper has a flair for "SportsCenter" moments. And now that he has his first hit, his first wall-banging catch and his first jaw-dropping throw out of the way, there's only one item left on his agenda.
David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield), SweetSpot
Harper plays the game with a violent energy that only a 19-year-old with a faux Mohawk can maintain. While it will be fun to see him run into a fastball, that energy will still lead to a kid trying too hard to jack one out. So I'll go with that Pujols guy. Even if he is hitting like Luis Pujols right now.
Dave Gershman (@dave_gershman), Marlins Daily
Harper. The Nationals are currently on a homestand as are the Angels. The only difference is that Nationals Park is easier for left-handers to homer in than "The Big A" is for right-handers to homer in. If anything, I'll give the kid the benefit of the doubt; he needs to hit his first homer at some point.
2. Are the Twins the worst team in baseball?
Crasnick: They are at the moment. Their run differential of minus-41 is easily the worst in baseball, even though Denard Span, Josh Willingham and Joe Mauer are all off to good starts at the plate. The Twins' pitching staff ranks last in the majors with a 5.59 ERA and 112 strikeouts, and it's hard to see those numbers improving anytime soon unless they can find a way to resurrect the 2006 version of Francisco Liriano.
Schoenfield: They called up Drew Butera. Does that answer your question? They're carrying 13 pitchers, as if an extra mediocre pitcher will make up for having 12 other mediocre pitchers. And they certainly don't have Jose Altuve on the roster. So, yes, the Twins are the worst.
Gershman: Yes. Even with guys like Joe Mauer and Denard Span on the roster, the Twins' pitching combined with a weak offense makes them by far the worst team around. At 5.17, the Twins' FIP as a staff is the worst in the league.
3. Barry Zito's ERA is 1.67. At the end of the year it will be ______?
Crasnick: It will be 3.98. I'm happy for Zito, a good guy who has endured some rough times in San Francisco while trying to live up to that gargantuan contract. But he has 14 strikeouts in 27 innings, and a miniscule .193 batting average on balls in play against him. Like Arizona's Joe Saunders, another pitch-to-contact lefty who was lights-out in April, Zito is destined to hit a rough patch soon enough.
Schoenfield: Time to quit making fun of Zito, all you haters! In a league where Ty Wigginton can hit cleanup on a contender, anything is possible. Mark it down: 3.79. And then a start in the postseason.
Gershman: At season's end, Barry Zito's ERA will be 3.76 with a fairly respectable FIP. Zito's FIP has been known to sit near his ERA. That means he's never particularly lucky or unlucky. For instance, his 2011 ERA of 5.87 was just .27 higher than his FIP (5.60). Thus far in 2012 his FIP is 4.01 and his ERA is 1.67, and I think the two will meet in the middle, but closer to the higher figure.
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