It’s hard to believe the first month of the season is already over. Here are my observations of each AL and NL division.
This is anybody’s division. New York Yankees (13-9) hold a one game lead over the Boston Red Sox & Tampa Bay Rays (both 12-10). The defending AL East champion Baltimore Orioles are at .500 (10-10) while the last place Toronto Blue Jays (10-12) are only 2½ games out. The Yankees and Rays are doing surprisingly well although I wonder about the Yankees given that Masahiro Tanaka is hurt again while C.C. Sabathia is 0-4 with a 5.96 ERA.
The defending AL champion Kansas City Royals (15-7) have a ½ game lead over the defending AL Central champion Detroit Tigers (15-8). A lot of people didn’t think the Royals had it in them (myself included). They have been playing with a chip on their shoulder and have been in two well-publicized brawls with the Chicago White Sox and one with the Oakland A’s (mostly Brett Lawrie). The Royals can’t play angry for 162 games. Meanwhile, the Tigers haven’t missed a beat despite the absence of Justin Verlander, the departure of Max Scherzer and Joe Nathan being out for the season with Tommy John surgery.
Both the Chicago White Sox (8-11) and Cleveland Indians (7-14) have been disappointments. The White Sox are probably the bigger disappointment with all their off-season acquisitions although I did not think much of those acquistions.
The team to watch in this division is the Minnesota Twins (10-12). They are 9-6 following a 1-6 start. I like Paul Molitor as their manager. He is still The Igniter. They might not play October baseball, but they will make things interesting.
This division was supposed to be a three team race between the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners. Of those three teams, only the Angels are at .500 (11-11) while the Mariners (10-12) have been so-so and the A’s (9-14) are barely ahead of the Texas Rangers (7-14).
How many people thought the Houston Astros (15-7) would be tied for the best record in the AL at the end of April? That’s what I thought. I didn’t think much of their chances either. Sure, they improved in 2014, but they let go of Bo Porter. Given that A.J. Hinch didn’t have a very successful tenure with Arizona a few years back, my expectations were not very high. Well, the Astros are the hottest team in MLB having won seven in a row. Can they sustain this early success?
The achievement of the Astros has been overshadowed by the New York Mets (15-8). Although they finished the month with three straight losses, they did win 11 in a row in April and presently have a 4 1/2 game lead over both the Atlanta Braves (10-12) and Miami Marlins (10-12). The two teams seem to be going in opposite directions. The Braves began the season 6-1, but have gone 4-8 since while the Marlins have gone 7-1 after beginning the season 3-11. Although the Washington Nationals (10-13) ended the month by winning three straight games, they spent most of April neck and neck with the lowly Philadelphia Phillies (8-15). The Nationals, who were widely picked to win the NL East, have been the biggest disappointment in MLB.
This division is matching my predictions with the St. Louis Cardinals (15-6) leading the Chicago Cubs (12-8) and Pittsburgh Pirates (12-10) by 2½ and 3½ games, respectively with the Cincinnati Reds at .500 (11-11) while the Milwaukee Brewers (5-17) own MLB’s worst record and are already 10½ back of the Cards who have MLB’s best record. How long will the Brewers stick with Ron Roenicke?
The Los Angeles Dodgers (13-8) have a two game lead over the Colorado Rockies (11-10) who got off to a 7-0 start, but are 4-10 since. The restocked San Diego Padres (11-12) are just under .500 as are the Arizona Diamondbacks (10-11) with the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants (9-13) in last place albeit only 4½ games back. Then again this an odd numbered year so no one is surprised that the Giants aren’t in championship form.
Question for May
The Houston Astros & New York Mets rode high in April. Will they be shot down in May?