Who’s Off to the Hottest Start in Major League Baseball’s 2021 Season?

Are you aware of what outfielder Nick Castellanos is doing for the surprising Cincinnati Reds?

April 9, 2021 8:03 am
Nick Castellanos of Cincinnati Reds
Nick Castellanos of Cincinnati Reds bats against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Joe Robbins/MLB Photos via Getty

With its second week of play already underway, the 2021 Major League Baseball season is in full … swing.

Already at 5-1 in 2021 and sitting in first place atop the NL Central, the Cincinnati Reds might be the biggest early surprise in all of baseball, thanks in large part to a blistering start at the plate from outfielder Nick Castellanos. In addition to being hot with the bat to start the season (.435 batting average in 23 at-bats), Castellanos has also proved to be a hot head, holding the distinction of starting the season’s first brawl.

Though he was ejected from that game over the weekend, the 29-year-old had already hit safely for the Reds to continue a six-game hitting streak to begin the season. He also has four homers, one triple, two doubles, seven runs scored and six RBIs during that stretch.

Castellanos is swinging the stick well right now — and he’s not the only one. Below, we take a look at who else if off to a great start this season, both at the plate and on the mound.

Who’s Hot

Tyler Naquin, Reds, OF: Along with Castellanos, Naquin is a huge reason Cincinnati is 5-1. The 29-year-old only has six hits on the season, but those have been good enough for four homers and 14 RBIs in six games. In 40 games with Cleveland in 2020, Naquin had four home runs and 20 RBI.

Yermin Mercedes, White Sox, C/DH: The first player since 1900 to begin a season with eight consecutive hits, Mercedes has cooled off a little bit since making his first out of the season, but not much. Mercedes hit safely in each of his first five games of the season and went 13-for-23 (.565) with four extra-base hits, four runs and six RBIs over that span. Mercedes had 12 hits in his first four career starts, the most by any player in the modern era over that span.

Nate Lowe, Rangers, 1B: A part-time player last year with Tampa, Lowe collected at least one hit and RBI in each of the season’s first five games. Though he went 0-for-4 in the sixth game of the year, Lowe is leading the league in RBIs with 14 and also has one steal, three homers and four runs scored in six games to go along with a .320 batting average.

Gerrit Cole, Yankees, SP: After two starts, New York’s high-priced ace is 1-0 and has 21 strikeouts through 12.1 innings of work. Cole earned his single win by tossing seven scoreless frames of four-hit ball with 13 strikeouts and no walks against the Orioles. Cole’s 13 strikeouts in the win, during which he threw 71-of-97 pitches for strikes, were a regular season-high for him in a Yankees uniform.

Mark Melancon, Padres, RP: Once one of MLB’s best closers, Melancon posted a 1.80 ERA from 2013 to 2016. After a dip, Melancon returned to form last season and picked up 11 saves with a 2.78 ERA. Leading MLB thus far with three saves, the 36-year-old righty has yet to allow a run in four shutout innings while striking out three and allowing just one hit this season.

Akil Baddoo, Tigers, CF: After riding the bench for the first two games of the season, Baddoo was inserted into Detroit’s lineup for the third game of the year and went yard on the first pitch he saw as a major league hitter. Baddoo followed that up with a grand slam in his second game of the season and has hit safely and had at least one RBI in all four games he has appeared in.With an absurd 1.636 OPS thus far, the 22-year-old lefty seems to have carried a hot spring training into the regular season.

(Note: All statistics, standings and streaks are current as of the afternoon of 4/8/2021.)

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