The baseball season can really bum you out sometimes. You get all pumped up for it to get started, and then, next thing you know, Buster Posey is crumpled to the ground after getting hit in the head and Trea Turner's hamstring is hurting and Gary Sanchez can't lift his right arm and just about everybody on the Red Sox has the flu.
So what do you say we focus on some good news?
As is the case with every April article, we are morally obligated to point out that nothing we've seen so far is to be taken too seriously. But here are 10 early, encouraging outcomes for some people that really, really needed them.
Jay Bruce, Mets
On measure, Bruce's 2016 was solid. He was an All-Star. He hit 27 home runs. He drove in 99 runs. But when you hit .219 and strike out 43 times in 169 at-bats after arriving in New York via trade, that tends to be all anybody really remembers. Bruce's life was thrown all out of whack by that transaction. On short notice, he couldn't find adequate accommodations for his wife and newborn son, so he lived alone in Manhattan hotel rooms on homestands, and he must have felt even more alone when the home crowd started booing his poor performance. The Mets tried hard to trade him this winter, but nobody wanted to give up legitimate talent for him, so he reported to what could have been an uncomfortable camp.
But Bruce has been a good teammate and, as it turns out, a good contributor early on. He hit four homers in his first eight games, including the two-run shot at Citizens Bank Park on Monday that sealed a 4-3 comeback win over the Phillies. Bruce can be a streaky hitter, so he's bound to slump again, but perhaps he's bought himself a little more benefit of the doubt from the Citi Field faithful.
Miguel Sano, Twins
This is part of the bigger picture, which is that the Twins have actually won 62.5 percent of their baseball games so far! A franchise that has lost 92 games or more in five of the last six seasons needs all the good vibes it can get, and Sano, after an unsightly sophomore season, has provided some. Sano showed up to spring camp in 2016 looking unfit and unprepared to make a major transition from third base to right field, and the season that ensued was not only a defensive disaster, but a steep step back offensively from his .916 OPS and 18-homer output in 80 games the year before.
This year, Sano is back at the hot corner, slimmer and slugging, with six extra-base hits and eight RBIs in his first eight games and an average exit velocity (99.7 mph) that, as of Wednesday, was the highest of any player with at least 15 batted balls measured by Statcast™.
Steven Souza Jr., Rays
In a complicated three-team trade executed in December 2014, the Padres got Wil Myers, who has become their offensive centerpiece, the Nationals got Trea Turner, who was the National League Rookie of the Year Award runner-up last season, and the Rays got … this guy, who, to this point, qualified as the short end of the stick. In his first two seasons in Tampa Bay, he battled injuries and strikeouts and his performance just hasn't fit his athletic profile.
But Souza looks good so far in '17. He had a .370/.485/.593 slash through eight games, and his strikeout rate in that span was just 9.1 (after a 34-percent mark in 120 games last year). The exact numbers are bound for regression but perhaps a healthy Souza is finally on track to give the Rays something to show for that swap.
Dallas Keuchel, Astros
Rotator cuff inflammation knocked Keuchel out for the last five weeks of the 2016 season and bothered him all year, undoubtedly impacting the steep regression from his 2015 Americna League Cy Young Award season. When the shoulder is involved, one can never be sure what's in store. Keuchel was no lock to be ready for Opening Day, let alone to deliver the kind of performance he's turned in, to date -- two seven-inning starts in which he's allowed just one run total on four hits with one walk.
The changeup Keuchel basically abandoned because of the shoulder soreness last season is back and effective. And though it might not lead to another Cy Young Award, Keuchel's comeback bid has been a big early positive for an Astros team a lot of people predicted to win the AL West.
James Shields, White Sox
The "Big Game James" moniker had begun to take on new, substantially different meaning, because when Shields was on the mound in 2016, that generally meant a big game for his opponent's offense. He was the worst qualified starter in baseball last season, with a 5.85 ERA, two homers allowed per nine (even Bartolo Colon took him deep), four walks per nine and 19 losses. The White Sox thought they were buying low when they acquired Shields from the Padres, but they didn't know how low he could go.
Shields' struggles, though, were never a product of a lack of work or desire, so at a certain point you just felt bad for him. That's why it's great to see him getting results more befitting the "Big Game" label lately. Shields has allowed just two runs on four hits in 10 2/3 innings over his first two starts. He's still walking too many people, and both of the runs came on solo shots. So don't be terribly surprised if it starts to go downhill again. But this is a guy for whom no positive sample is too small.
Chase Headley, Yankees
It's hard to overstate just how brutal Headley's start to 2016 was. It took him nearly six weeks to notch his first extra-base hit, and his slugging percentage didn't even crack the .300 mark until May 25. Headley survived that nightmare and eventually ironed things out to something approaching his statistical norm. But going into the season, the presence of Gleyber Torres in the Yanks' system was enough to make you wonder how long a leash Headley has to work with this year.
Right now, Headley couldn't be more secure. He's off to a fantastic start, with a .393/.485/.643 slash overall and a 7-for-13 showing against the shift.
Jason Heyward, Cubs
The Cubs didn't give Heyward a $184 million contract just because of the value of his defense and the projected value of his Game 7 rain delay speech. They saw upside in a 26-year-old bat that had once produced a 27-homer season. What they got, instead, was a .230/.306/.325 slash from a player who looked absolutely lost from beginning to end, and that led to an offseason overhaul of his swing. Heyward didn't see a whole heck of a lot of positive results this spring, so it was an open question not just where his production but also his confidence would be when the regular season started.
So far, though, Heyward's looked relaxed and he's been productive, with a .292 average and .370 on-base percentage in his first six games. The offensive output is not overwhelming, and it might never be. But the goal here is for Heyward to be a viable enough bat that the Cubs can continue to justify starting his elite glove in the outfield on a daily basis.
Bryce Harper, Nationals
Love him or hate him, baseball's better when Bryce is bashing. Last season wasn't bad. It was just a tremendously disappointing follow-up to a 2015 effort in which Harper lived up to every piece of hype associated with him going back to puberty. From a strengthened upper body to a motivated mindset to a Grapefruit League power burst, there was plenty of reason to suspect Harper would bounce back in a big way, and it's good to see those suspicions confirmed with his .367/.513/.633 slash line so far.
The caveat here is that Harper did have a pretty awesome April a year ago and things quickly went south. But the 95.9 mph average exit velocity is a really good indication that the rumored shoulder issues of 2016 are behind him.
Michael Brantley, Indians
Nothing was smooth for Dr. Smooth in 2016. He played in only 11 games, as his recovery from an offseason shoulder surgery was a mess of stops and starts that finally resulted in a second procedure in August. Going into Spring Training, there was really no way of knowing if he'd establish himself as physically ready for Opening Day, let alone if his swing would resemble the sweet and pure stroke that produced a 124 OPS+ from 2012-15.
But Brantley made it through the progression to consecutive games with his shoulder and smile intact, and, though the Indians have been careful with how much they use him in the early going, he's back as their No. 3 hitter. The early results have been uneven, as you might suspect after seeing so little Major League pitching last season, but Brantley's game-winning double in the Tribe's home opener Tuesday was good for the soul.
Greg Holland, Rockies
He saved 125 games for the Royals in 2013-15, the closing act in a dominant trio that also featured Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis. But as '15 evolved, Holland began to look more and more mortal, and it wasn't until he had Tommy John surgery late in the year that we learned he had pitched all of that season and the homestretch of '14 with the torn elbow ligament. There was no telling if Holland would ever make it back to an elite level, especially after an underwhelming winter showcase in which his velocity was topping out at 91 mph, but the Rockies, desperate to repair their bullpen, gave him a shot.
The payoff has been instant. Holland's average velocity is back up around 94, he's 5-for-5 in save situations, and he's struck out eight and allowed zero hits with just two walks in five innings.
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Anthony Castrovince is a Sports on Earth contributor, MLB.com columnist and MLB Network contributor. Follow him on Twitter @Castrovince.