It has now been just over a month since the 2017 baseball season has begun, and there have been more than a few surprises, both good and bad (I’m looking at you Toronto). Here’s GameDaySportsBlog.com’s take on the season so far.
The Surprisingly Successful Teams
Before the season started I said that both the Diamondbacks and the Rockies would surprise people in the NL West. Now both teams are doing well and the Rockies are leading one of the Majors’ best divisions.
Colorado has a 21-10 record, 2nd best in the National League, behind only the Washington Nationals who were my pick to win the NL pennant. And the Rockies are getting it done in the new 21st century way: with a good starting rotation and a whole lot of great work from a bullpen that might be baseball’s best.
What’s surprising is that Colorado, a team that often is a purely offensive-based squad is not hitting all that well. The Rockies rank 21st in runs scored, and outside the top 10 in batting average, truly odd stats from a team who is so used to scoring at Coors Field. So just wait until their offense gets going. And it’s going to, because Ian Desmond, Carlos Gonzalez, Trevor Story, and DJ LeMahieu have yet to live up to their skills which should keep the Rockies afloat among the NL West for a couple more months.
The Diamondbacks are the 2nd NL West team to make this list. They aren’t in 1st like the Rockies, but after a 69-93 record and a 4th place finish in the NL West, it is certainly a surprise to see the Diamondbacks at 18-15 and tied for 2nd in the division.
Now, the Diamondbacks have lost their 3rd straight series, so maybe the shine is wearing off a little bit, but this writer fully expects them to be a formidable team in the National League.
Chicago White Sox
This might be the most surprising team for this writer, who had the White Sox finishing in last place in the American League Central. But right now the South-Siders are .500. Granted that is only good enough for a tie for 3rd place in the Central. But still, after losing your best player in free agency and having your supposed best player, Todd Frazier, struggling badly, this is a very pleasant surprise to all White Sox fans.
The Surprisingly Unsuccessful Teams
Once again I chose the Rangers to win the American League West, and so far that seems to be a mistake. Sure, it’s only been one month, so I’m not too worried, but it sure is disappointing to see the Texas Rangers go from the best team in the American League to one of the worst in Baseball.
Right now they are 11-15 and tied with the Seattle Mariners for last place in the AL West. Right now the Rangers are without their ace, Cole Hamels, for 8 weeks, and their best hitter, Adrian Beltre, is still not 100% so things aren’t getting much better. But still, that’s not excuse for a last place position with a team that is as talented as the Rangers.
San Francisco Giants
Last season I picked the Giants to win the World Series (ya know, the whole “even year” thing), but this year they shouldn’t have dropped off much. Instead, the Giants are arguably the worst team in the Majors.
They have the 2nd lowest win percentage in the Majors, just ahead of the Royals. They are a very talented team but right now their lineup is horrible. They are 29th in runs scored and it’s not like their pitching is helping them out much either, where their 4.81 ERA is 28th best in the league.
So without their best pitcher, Madison Bumgarner, somebody is going to have to step up and lead the Giants. Because they need help all over, and getting back into the playoff race might be future Hall of Fame manager Bruce Bochy’s most impressive coaching job.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays were on the brink of being the worst team in the Majors after one month, but in the last 10 games the lone Canadian team is 5-5, helping keep them from being the Royals who are just a half game worse than the Jays.
The Blue Jays are 19th in runs scored thanks to a down year from Jose Bautista and injuries all over the lineup, and injuries to their rotation hasn’t helped their 26th ranked pitching staff.
The Blue Jays are going to have to get healthy and quick if they want to try and make the playoffs in a VERY tough division.
The Surprisingly Successful Players
Eric Thames – Brewers
Nobody had Eric Thames doing what he is doing now. No expert or analyst was saying that he would dominate pitchers the way he has a month in.
Thames made hitting against major league pitchers look easy when he ended April with a .345/.466/.810 slash line and 11 homers. And this isn’t due to steroids either, as Thames has already been tested several times and has made it clear he has plenty more blood and urine to go around.
And what’s more is that Thames is doing it for a team that is not all that great. But the outfielder is keeping the Brewers afloat, as Milwaukee’s squad is at .500 right now and leaning heavily on the bat of the NL’s best slugger.
Ryan Zimmerman – Nationals
I fully expect the Nationals to win the National League, and so far they have been the best team in the Majors, but did anybody see veteran Ryan Zimmerman coming out hot in 2017?
The Washington 1B seemed to have left his star status behind when he managed just a .642 OPS last year. But when April turned into May this season, he was either leading or co-leading the Majors in:
- Home Runs: 11
- Hits: 37
- RBI: 29
- Average: .420
- Slugging Percentage: .886
- OPS: 1.345
Basically, if it’s a major offensive statistic, Zimmerman is owning it. And with a lineup that offers major protection for him, it’s possible that Zimmerman continues his MVP-caliber 2017 season.
Ervin Santana – Twins
Santana is beating out Kershaw, Scherzer, and Sale so far this season. As a matter of fact, in the 1st month of this season Santana has been head and shoulders better than those future Hall of Famers. He has a 0.77 ERA through 5 starts, easily the best in the Majors. And ERA isn’t the only statistic that points to Santana being the best pitcher in the Majors. His 3.3 hits per nine innings and 0.66 WHIP are both leading the league as well.
And if Minnesota wants to stay above .500 like they are right now then they need to hope that Santana continues his impressive, nay, dominant, start.
The Surprisingly Unsuccessful Players
Jose Bautista – Blue Jays
Nothing seems to be going right up in Toronto, with 4 of their best players on the disabled list and their other great player, Jose Bautista, having the worst season of his career. The outfielder has been atrocious throughout the 2017 campaign, making Blue Jays fans content that at least they re-signed him to a short term deal. Bautista has hit just 2 home runs and knocked in only 9 RBIs, while slashing for a disappointing line of .187/.315/.280. He’s also tied for 6th in the major league leaders in strikeouts, having been punched out on strikes 39 times already. After showing signs of regression last season, Bautista is looking like a thing of the past, and that’s not good for a team that was hoping to make the postseason in 2017.
Jackie Bradley Jr. – Red Sox
I predicted the Red Sox to win the World Series this season. But the Red Sox offense has struggled out of the gate this season, and if they’re going to make me look like a genius then they need their young outfielder to step up his game. Bradley has not only been terrible at the plate this season hitting .175/.250/.263, but he has also missed time to injury. And the Red Sox need their center fielder to do more than hit just 1 home run and drive in 6 runs. Because the Red Sox have their hopes set on a world championship, and for that to happen they can’t have a player drag down their lineup the way Bradley has.
Trevor Story – Rockies
Trevor Story was fantastic in his rookie campaign of 2016, but that hasn’t carried over into this season. The 24-year-old shortstop ranks 2nd in the majors in strikeouts with 43, meaning he strikes out 38.4% of the time he steps into the batter’s box. He’s hitting a porous .155/.268/.381 on the season with just 6 home runs and 13 RBIs. So while Coors Field could help him with his power, it won’t help if he’s striking out nearly half of his at-bats. So if the Rockies want to continue their NL West leading ways they are going to need their All-Star shortstop to return to hit 2016 form.
AL MVP so far
NL MVP so far
AL Cy Young so far
NL Cy Young so far
AL Rookie of the Year so far
NL Rookie of the Year so far