Ringing the alarm on five early-season MLB trends

Through two starts, the average velocity of Chris Sale's four-seam fastball has dropped from 95.4 mph last season to 90.7. Cause for concern? Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Every season, baseball moves from its most magical time -- Opening Day -- to its most awkward. Sure, we're all thrilled to have ballgames to watch every day. On getaway days, like Wednesday, there was real, live game action for nearly 13 straight hours. That is the very definition of bliss.

Once those early games are in the books, we then run into the confounding problem of post-Opening Day results. Things have happened. Of that much we can be sure. Numbers have been recorded. The newspapers that still bother to print the daily standings print the daily standings. (Rays in first; Red Sox in last.) Sadly, we don't really know what to do with all of that information. What does it mean?

The answer, of course, is that a week's worth of data doesn't mean much of anything. It's too early. The samples are too small. Give it time -- a month, through Memorial Day, whenever -- and then we can start to assign meaning to all that we've witnessed. Unfortunately, that rational response doesn't play well as it bounds around our lizard brains.

Compounding the innate awkwardness of the small-sample bazaar is the explosion of data in the game, and our exposure to it. (Oh. My. God. The spin rate on Kenley Jansen's cutter is down by 37 RPMs. Quick! Dash to the 7-Eleven and clear the shelves of bottled water!) It's all got to mean something. If it didn't, why would they keep track of it?

Please bear all of this in mind as we progress through a few issues that have arisen during the opening stretch of the 2019 season. The numbers referenced below are through Wednesday's games, taking into account the first full week of the season. Insofar as meaning can be assigned to any of these examples, it can be assigned only after the fact, through the daily repetitions of a long and glorious baseball season.

Alarms are sounding everywhere. Ring! I hear them too. Let's dispatch with a few of them today. Some of them only require us to hit snooze. We'll check in later and figure out if they actually mean anything. Others clearly don't mean anything. We'll just shut those alarms off and go back to sleep. But in at least one case -- mostly where our minuscule set of early results intersects with objective-based expectation -- we might have to bound out of bed, ready to take action.