If you saw this stuff coming, could you do me a favor and buy me a Powerball ticket? But even if you didn't, you might have noticed something:
It isn't last year anymore. How exactly can we tell? Because a bunch of crazy stuff already has happened!
A mere 56 of the 939 triples in baseball last season were hit by catchers. Who hit the first triple of 2016? Who else? A catcher, Francisco Cervelli.
Only 213 of the 20,647 runs scored last season were driven in by pitchers. Want to guess who drove in the first run of this season? Right you are. A pitcher, Francisco Liriano.
Cole Hamels faced 194 left-handed hitters last season -- and served up home runs to two of them. How did he kick off this season? By allowing homers to two of the first three left-handed hitters he faced. Of course he did.
Shelby Miller could relate to that. He gave up three home runs to the first 254 hitters he pitched to last season as a Brave. What do you think happened to him in his first start as a Diamondback? He allowed three home runs in an inning -- in a span of 20 pitches. That's what.
But Ken Giles can top both of them. He allowed two home runs to the last 463 hitters he faced as a Phillie. Then he became an Astro. And how's that working out? He gave up home runs to two of the first six hitters he faced. How else?
Never, in any season in the live ball era, had a hitter started a season by hitting a home run in each of the first three games -- and not bothering to mix in any singles, doubles or triples. How do you think this season begins? With Robinson Cano and the instant legend named Trevor Story both doing exactly that. You can't make this stuff up.
Votto faced 217 pitchers last year. Not one of them struck him out three times in any game. How did Votto's Opening Day go? He punched out three times -- against Jeremy Hellickson, a guy who hasn't had a double-figure strikeout game in five years.
We tend to think of the Royals as a team that doesn't need luxuries such as, say, extra-base hits to win. Except that last year, they played 10 games in which they hit nothing but singles -- and lost all 10 of them. What did they do on Opening Day against the Mets? They got nine hits. Zero were extra-base hits. And yessirree, they won 4-3.
Speaking of extra bases, on his way to a batting title last year, Dee Gordon never had one stinking game in which he lashed three extra-base hits. How many extra-base hits did he get on Opening Day this year? You know it: He had two doubles and a triple. Do the math.
Did somebody say "batting title?" According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there had never been an Opening Day game in baseball history in which both reigning batting champs showed up on the same field -- until this year, when Gordon and Miguel Cabrera faced each other and turned that into a defunct stat.
Victor Martinez has played in the big leagues since 2002. Before this year, he had hit exactly one home run as a pinch hitter. Want to guess how many pinch homers he has hit this year? That would be two, of course. And how many players since 1900 hit pinch home runs in each of the first two games of the season, before Victor did his thing? Yup. That would be none, according to Elias.
Here are Starlin Castro's extra-base hit totals by MONTH last year as a Cub: April -- 3, May -- 4, June -- 5, July -- 3. He has been a Yankee for three games now. His extra-base hit total in New York looks like this: 4. Start spreading the news.
Since June 2012, Mike Leake had pitched against the Pirates 17 times with the Reds and Giants -- and lost none of those starts. On Wednesday, he faced the Buccos for the first time as a Cardinal. Do I even need to tell you he lost 5-1?
When the Reds and Mariners trailed after eight innings last year, well, drive home safely. Elias tells us that before Wednesday, the Mariners had lost 80 games in a row in which they entered the ninth trailing, and the Reds had a fun, little 108-game losing streak at home when they found themselves in that situation. So we'd like to thank them for ending their streaks on the same day (Wednesday), if only because it proves that real life is always capable of being way better than Hollywood.
Then again, the trusty Phillies bullpen was involved in pulling the plug on that Reds streak. Last season, the Phillies lost three games all year after leading after seven innings. After two games this season, they had lost two games like that. And you thought they'd never find themselves missing Jonathan Papelbon, huh?
Last season, the Cardinals played 24 series against all their good friends from the National League Central. They were swept in none of them. Guess what transpired when St. Louis pulled into Pittsburgh for its first series of 2016? Of course, the Cardinals got swept. Are you catching on to how this column works yet?
Milwaukee's ever-pesky Scooter Gennett arrived at Opening Day hitting .124 against left-handed pitchers, with a .150 slugging percentage and zero home runs. And so, he ran into Madison Bumgarner, who served up exactly two home runs to left-handed hitters all last season ( Bryce Harper and Joc Pederson, if you're scoring at home). So there was no way that ... oh, yes, there was. In Gennett's first at-bat of 2016, he went deep -- off Bumgarner. That's just crazy.
The DH era began 43 fun-filled years ago. In all that time, Elias tells us, only three pitchers hit their team's first home run of the season. Who thumped the first homer of 2016 for a Dodgers team currently leading the entire sport in runs scored? It couldn't have been anyone besides a pitcher (Kenta Maeda), and one who had homered exactly once in the previous seven seasons in Japan.
Finally, Bruce Bochy (1,926) and Bud Black (1,362) managed a combined 3,288 games -- and 20 seasons -- for the Padres between 1996 and 2015. Do you know how many times their teams got shut out in three games in a row? Not once. But they don't work in San Diego anymore. The fearless leader who does, Andy Green, has managed the Padres for three games. His team got shut out in all three of them. We'd tell him baseball can be nutty like that. But tell you what: Let's wait until his team actually scores a run.