We’re three months into the 2017 MLB regular season, heading towards the All-Star Break next week and then the non-waiver trade deadline at the end of the month.
Much has happened over the past three months with the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals marching out in front, the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers and (surprisingly) Milwaukee Brewers building small leads at the top of their respective divisions, and the San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays falling a fair way off their expectations heading into the season.
The New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge has captured the imagination with the huge slugger launching towering home runs to lead the Majors with 27, whilst the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger has created plenty of headlines too with 24 long-balls.
Familiar names have dazzled on the mound with Chris Sale immedately taking to wearing his Red Sox uniform (and so far avoiding another Edward Scissorshands moment), Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg doing all they can ahead of yet another faltering Nationals’ bullpen, and Clayton Kershaw has carried on being Clayton Kershaw.
MLB Early games
Away from the performances of teams and players, one topic that matters more to British (and wider European) baseball fans than those in the States are the day-games played by different teams.
These early games are prime evening baseball viewing for us and allow many to watch more baseball than the usual night-games where other commitments and practicalities make games in the early hours less convenient to watch regularly.
My study of the MLB working-week early games from 2011 to 2013 was included in Volume 1 of Project COBB’s ‘This Diamond Isle’.
Here’s how things have looked over the first three months of the 2017 season.
Teams to watch
Over the first three months of the 2017 MLB regular season we’ve been fortunate that we’ve been able to watch more games involving last year’s World Series teams than anyone else.
Cleveland Indians (20 games)
Chicago Cubs (16)
Colorado Rockies (15)
Detroit Tigers (15)
Milwaukee Brewers (14)
Minnesota Twins (14)
Oakland Athletics (14)
Washington Nationals (14)
The Chicago Cubs are always near or at the top of the early-game list due to restrictions on the number of night-time games that can be played at Wrigley Field. The Cleveland Indians are usually more of a mid-tier early-game team so we’ll see if their increased number of early games is a first-half phenomenon or a trend that will continue.
The Rockies, Brewers and Twins have all started the season well and we’ve had plenty of opportunities to watch them. The Oakland A’s are always one of the highest early-game teams; however unfortunately for A’s fans like myself neutrals would be drawn to the games more to watch their opponents this season.
Baltimore Orioles (5)
New York Yankees (5)
Los Angeles Angels (6)
New York Mets (6)
Atlanta Braves (7)
Texas Rangers (7)
Toronto Blue Jays (8)
Seattle Mariners (9)
At the other end of the scale you’ll find some of the more popular teams among British-based fans. The Orioles, Yankees, Angels, Braves and Rangers are teams that regularly reside in the lower-third of working week early-games. The surprise among them are the New York Mets who are usually one of the higher-placed teams.
April and May lead the way
April and May are usually the two months with the most early games, followed by a sizeable dip in June.
2017 looks to be no different. July normally stays around the same level as June, followed by an up-tick in August and September, albeit one that doesn’t quite get back to the April/May levels.
Wednesday and Thursday
As for the weekly distribution of early games, the 2017 experience so far also fits the usual trend with Wednesday and Thursday being the best evenings to watch MLB at a convenient hour, followed by Monday (helped by the occasional bounty of games on a Public Holiday).
Tuesday is the least likely day to catch an early game, whilst Friday’s are propped up by the Chicago Cubs often opening a home weekend series with an afternoon contest.
There have been a number of promotions recently on MLB.com offering the amazing MLB.TV subscription at discount prices. There are various guides online to games available, including ‘early-game’ round-ups on Monday’s here, Batflips and Nerds and other UK-fan sites.
As the above shows, there are plenty of opportunities to watch live MLB games without sacrificing sleep – as well as plenty of day-games on Saturday and Sunday to enjoy – so if you’re not already a subscriber why not sign up and follow what’s shaping up to be another memorable MLB season.