The 2021 baseball season is young, but that doesn't mean fans aren't already starting to overreact to small sample sizes, bad performances and bloated ERAs.
A few bad starts is all it takes to declare a pitcher done or a hitter a bust.
But the reality is that no team has ever won a World Series in April. Sure, a team can use a hot start to create some momentum entering the summer and create some cushioning in the standings. But a team can just as easily overcome a bad month and gain some ground later on in the season.
Sometimes it's just too soon to tell whether spring numbers are indicative of what's to come. Sometimes April numbers aren't indicative of anything. They're simply outliers in a 162-game season.
File these five storylines under the "Too Soon to Tell" category, because it's entirely too early to be panicking. It's a long season, so don't overreact to anything in April.
The New York Yankees Are Wasting Their Window
Fans of the New York Yankees have had enough. Between a tepid start to the season and some listless play, the Yankees find themselves at the bottom of the AL East standings with a 5-9 record. Fans hit their breaking point Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first game of a homestand. Only 10,000 fans are allowed inside Yankee Stadium right now due to COVID-19 distancing measures, but they booed enough for 50,000 of them when the Yankees made two costly fifth-inning errors to drop the first game 8-2.
The pinstripe faithful threw baseballs back on the field, which is a dangerous move but it shows just how frustrated the fanbase is with the state of the team.
Lindsey Adler of The Athletic summed it up perfectly: This fanbase wants a superteam like the Los Angeles Dodgers with All-Stars at all positions. It's what they were conditioned to expect for several years, and while cost-conscious players like Gio Urshela and Luke Voit have been successful, the defense is bad (-4.7 Fangraphs rating, 28th in the league) and the starting rotation is thin. Sure, the Yankees have Gerrit Cole, but this is a team that regularly trotted out multiple aces for years. Behind Cole there are no All-Stars, but there are reclamation projects with Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon.
As always, the AL East is a tough division. But that doesn't mean the Yankees are already out of the race. They can and should acquire some starting pitchers. They can and should shore up their infield defense. But it's not time to panic yet.
The San Diego Padres Won't Be Able to Catch the Los Angeles Dodgers
The San Diego Padres loaded up in the offseason in an attempt to compete with their NL West rivals to the north, and the team became one of the favorites to challenge the defending World Series champions for the National League crown. But the narrative all spring has been that their efforts, while valid and good, may not be enough to catch one of the best baseball teams ever assembled.
To be fair, it may be impossible for any team in Major League Baseball to catch the Dodgers.