It is the end of April and teams have played 20 to 22 games so far. The standings looks quite different from what most people expected. Sure, it is early, but some teams have really surprised, some good, some bad. Jonathan Leshanski and Daniel Paulling debate which current division leader has to be considered the most unexpected.
Blue Jays Atop East Tops the List
By Jonathan Leshanski
In a division with the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays the Toronto Blue Jays were an afterthought to pretty much everyone. After all in a loaded division the Jays looked like fodder for everyone else to fatten up their record on.
Their pitching after Roy Halladay seemed more than a little suspect. Their offense seemed very middle of the road. Basically it seemed like the Jays team we’ve all come to expect over the last decade. Decent, capable of playing a good game, but incapable of delivering more than that.
Especially after seeing what happened when the Jays went out and spent money. It was just a few years ago that they went free agent crazy and brought in guys like A.J. Burnett and B.J. Ryan and took the win now attitude. They didn’t.
Let’s face it. In baseball’s toughest division the Jays had to be considered lightweights. Right now they are making the most of what they’ve got -- showing surprising talent, much of it home grown, and taking advantage of the struggles of the Yankees and Rays.
I don’t think they can make it last, but it would be something to see.
Mariners are Biggest Surprise
By Daniel Paulling
There couldn’t be enough bad things said about the Mariners coming into this season. They were the first team with a $100 million payroll to lose 100 games last season. Ichiro Suzuki divided the clubhouse. The offense was pretty bad, and the pitching staff wasn’t much better, having lost closer extraordinaire J.J. Putz.
Ichiro and the Mariners have stormed out of the gates.
The Mariners have, believe it or not, claimed the top spot in the American League West. Injuries and tragedy struck the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s rotation and Oakland’s starting rotation is greener than a new $10 bill. Those two teams, as well as the Rangers, figured to be way ahead of the Mariners by now.
What makes Seattle’s early-season success all the more notable is its lack of offense. Ichiro Suzuki missed the beginning of the season with a sports hernia and sports a .317 OBP. Yuniesky Betancourt is pulling of a rare feat, posting a batting average (.303) higher than his OBP (.299). Adrian Beltre is hitting .207 and hasn’t hit his first home run of the season. The list of offensive ineptitude continues.
So does our surprise of the Mariners’ early-season success.