The Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox last met in the World Series in 1906. At the end of April, baseball fans in Chicago have reason for optimism this October as both teams own the best record in their respective leagues.
While few are surprised with the Cubs 17-5 record, the Chisox 17-8 start is MLB’s biggest surprise considering the drama that ensued following Adam LaRoche’s abrupt retirement concerning the presence of his son in the clubhouse. Instead of demoralizing the team, the incident has evidently given them a purpose.
But the Cubs & White Sox are far from the only good teams in MLB. The Cubs are only three games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates who ended April with 6 consecutive wins. If the Cubs are truly a juggernaut then the Pirates will have to settle for a fourth straight NL Wild Card berth. But perhaps the best division in MLB is the NL East. The Washington Nationals have a half game lead over the defending NL champion New York Mets who finished the month with 8 straight wins. The Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins aren’t far behind with winning streaks of 5 and 7 games, respectively. But some teams have to lose and the Atlanta Braves have turned it into an artform with a MLB worst record of 5-18.
The NL West on the other hand is a beacon of mediocrity thus far. The Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies are in a three way tie for first but all having losing records. The Dodgers and Giants are 12-13 while the Rockies are 11-12. The Arizona Diamondback are only a half game back of the first while the last place San Diego Padres are only 2.5 games out of first despite a 9-15 April. The Dodgers ended April with six consecutive losses. To put this into perspective, the Dodgers would be 5 games back of the Nationals and 6 1/2 games back of the Cubs. For that matter, they would be a game behind the fourth place Marlins now under the tutelage of former manager Don Mattingly.
So who will be the NL Rookie of the Month or for that matter the NL Player of the Month? Rockies shortstop Trevor Story has got most of the ink with 10 HR and 20 RBIs. But Cardinals shorstop Aledanys Diaz is hitting .423 (30 for 71). While I suspect the honors will go to Story, I believe Diaz has more staying power. What Story and Diaz have in common is that they both were pressed into service. Story became the Rockies’ Opening Day shortstop because of Jose Reyes’ suspension due to domestic violence while Diaz made the Opening Day roster due to an injury to Jhonny Peralta. Both Reyes and Peralta could become this generation’s Wally Pipp.
And what of the rest of the AL? The White Sox lead the AL Central by three games over the Detroit Tigers and 3.5 games over the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals who end April with four straight losses. While the Cleveland Indians are treading the water, the Minnesota Twins share the worst record in the AL with a 7-17 mark. It’s a disappointing start for a team that very nearly won a AL Wild Card berth last season. The Houston Astros who did earn a AL Wild Card berth in 2015 are the other AL team with a 7-17 record. They are staring at a competitive AL West where the defending champion Texas Rangers have a one game lead over the Seattle Mariners, 1.5 game lead over the Oakland A’s while the Los Angeles Angels are three games back.
Most expected the Baltimore Orioles to be in the cellar of the AL East due to their pitching, but they are atop the division with a half game lead over the Boston Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays are just under .500, but the defending AL East champion Toronto Blue Jays are a disappointing 11-14 with the New York Yankees bringing up the rear due to an anemic offense despite the presence of Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann.
But the season is long and it is barely into its second inning.