Surprising Hot Streaks, Playoff Contenders Stumbling & More!
The MLB season is only about a week old, but we have already hit the ground running with news to catch up on. We’ve milestones (Miguel Cabrera’s 2,000 career hit), historic starts (Emilio Bonifacio’s 8-11 beginning to the season) and even some surprising weather (Oakland having a game rained out for the first time in over a decade).
We’re finally underway, and even though some teams and players haven’t started off the way that we had hoped for, the fact that baseball is back is still more than enough reason to be happy.
Unheralded Players Have Hot Starts
For a player that was brought in during the middle of February, Emilio Bonifacio has certainly turned some heads. Although the Cubs are just 1-4 thus far, Bonifacio has been nothing short of phenomenal.
With 14 hits in 28 at-bats, he has had one of the hottest starts not only of this season, but also in MLB history. It would be unreasonable to expect him to keep up at this pace, but at the very least he should be able to set the table at the top of the order.
He’s not the only surprise player this year, as Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies has stepped up, too. The 27-year old outfielder is currently hitting .600 (12-20) and has been a fine replacement for Dexter Fowler, who was traded to Houston over the winter.
On the American League side of things, the typically offensively challenged Minnesota Twins have had the blessing of Chris Colabello getting hot to start the year. In the first week of the season, he has nearly doubled his career production for runs batted in with 11, and he’s leading the league in the category.
Unexpected Slow Starts For Playoff Contenders
What a difference that one year makes. Coming into last season, the Boston Red Sox were projected by many to finish last in the AL East. As we all know, they wound up putting all of the right pieces together and rallying to win their first Word Series since 2007.
With that, they came riding into this year with a target on their backs. Thus far, they’ve shown a bit of vulnerability, limping out to a 2-4 start. Even with this start, I fully expect them to contend for their division crown, and I wouldn’t dare let this lower my perception of them.
With all of the high-priced talent that the Los Angeles Angels possess they, too, were expected to be front-runners in their division. After missing the playoffs in each season since 2010, it doesn’t appear that the team is on the right track. They, like the Red Sox, are off to a 2-4 and will be looking to get things going next week.
After losing Patrick Corbin for the year, the Diamondbacks were expected to take a bit of a step back, but I don’t think anyone would have expected this start. Including their two games in Australia, the team has been by far the worst in the league, with a 1-7 record. They’ve allowed 16 more runs than any other team, and it doesn’t seem as if they’ll be able to turn it around.
Surprising Division Leaders
On the other side of the coin, there have been a few teams who have exploded out of the gate. Whether it is because of big free agent acquisitions or young players developing, these teams have certainly shocked the baseball world thus far.
The Seattle Mariners are more than likely the least surprising team on this list, given their signing of Robinson Cano, among others. Their 4-1 start has been solid, but the American League-leading 12 runs allowed is even more impressive. If their pitching can stay on top of it’s game, they’ll be able to hang around for quite a while.
Still recovering from Jeffery Loria stripping down their team before last season, the Marlins were again expected to be cellar-dwellers in the NL East. Due to some explosive hitting led by, you guessed it, Giancarlo Stanton, the team has jumped out to a 5-2 start. While it has made a good early-season story, I don’t think they have the talent to handle Atlanta and Washington for a full season.
Closing out the division leaders is another team that was expected to finish near the bottom of the pack, the Milwaukee Brewers. The return of Ryan Braun and stellar starting pitching has guided them this far, but much like the Marlins I’d be shocked if they kept winning just because of the team’s lack of depth.
This Week’s MVP: Emilio Bonifacio – Chicago Cubs (.500/.548/.571, 5 Runs, 4 SB)
This Week’s Cy Young: Yovani Gallardo – Milwaukee Brewers (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 7 K)