Which team do you think has been the most surprising in the American League to start the year? Which team would you think has been the most disappointing? I can give you a clue on who are my lead teams for both categories.
After a month of baseball not much has changed for a few teams in the American League from where they left off last season. In the AL Central the division leading Detroit Tigers have shown the country why they are responsible for the past two MVP’S to come out of the American League. And now this year the Tigers are shooting for a MVP hat-trick with the way Prince Fielder has been on a tear to begin the season. In the AL West the Texas Rangers and the Oakland Athletics are still battling it out for the division lead. The only difference this year is after a month into the season the A’s only have to make up a few games to take the first place spot from the Rangers, whereas last year there was only a month left to the season and the A’s had to make up 6 games to take the title; a task that was accomplished by the pesky boys in green from the Bay area.
But like to the beginning of every professional sports season, there are always your teams who have the biggest surprising starts/ biggest disappointing starts to the season. Here are mine from the American League:
Kansas City Royals (16-10) 2nd in A.L. Central- I think I speak for all Royals’ fans when I say the word “FINALLY.” After drafting in the top ten for at least the past 8 seasons, the Royals organization have finally put some starting pitching together to go with the great young nucleus they have on the field and their everyday players. The Royals have always been known for their superb defense, but with their team batting average improving to a solid .270 on the season which is 4th among all active teams, and their team ERA being 3.36 which also ranks 4th among active teams, the Royals find themselves with the best start they’ve had since 2003, which was the last time they finished .500 or over.
Boston Red Sox (20-10) 1st in A.L. East- Having the Red Sox as one of my most surprising teams to begin the 2013 has to be, well, a surprise to everyone. But after finishing the season in last place in their division with an embarrassing record of 69-93, I really don’t have to explain much further why they are on this list. The keys for Boston’s early success has been due to their consistent hitting and dominating pitching led by Clay Bucholz who is pitching like an early CY Young candidate with a league leading 6-0 record and also a league leading 1.01 ERA. After the tragic Boston Marathon incident I think its safe to say that even if they’re not your home team its nice to see the Red Sox give the people of Boston something to cheer about. Stay Boston Strong!
New York Yankees (18-11) 2nd in A.L. East- Let’s be honest here, to see Boston and New York on my list of early surprises to the 2013 season is somewhat mind boggling to some of you as it is to me. But with all the injuries the Yankees have had to overcome this season and to still be in contention for the division lead a month into the season is pretty impressive to say the least. Thanks to the emergence from pitcher Hiroki Kuroda becoming a great compliment to the Yankee ace C.C. Sabathia, and Robinson Cano deciding to put-the-team-on-his-back; leading the Yankees in all major batting categories (batting average, home runs, RBI’s, and runs scored), the Yankees find themselves battling it out with their hated rivals the Red Sox for the first place spot in the A.L. East. Oh by the way, this is without all-stars Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson all yet to play a game this season due to injuries.
A team’s payroll plus their win/loss record is the formula that I used to determine the ball clubs that I believe have had a disappointing start to their 2013 season.
Toronto Blue Jays (10-21) last in A.L. East- The Blue Jays come into this 2013 season with the 10th highest payroll in MLB sitting at 118.24 million. With all the major moves the Toronto Blue Jays made this offseason acquiring Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Melky Cabrera, and 2012 NL CY Young winner R.A. Dickey via trades and free agency, you can understand why the fans in Toronto were optimistic to seeing playoff baseball being played across the border for the first time since the 90′s. But with early injuries to Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson and an offense that ranks 25th in runs scored and 29th in batting average, the Blue Jays find themselves in familiar territory a month into the season; which is last place in the division. This team needs to turn it around soon or they’ll be more major changes to come for Canada’s team.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- (11-19) 4th place in A.L. West- The Angels come into this 2013 season with the 7th highest payroll in MLB sitting at 142.17 million. The Angels probably rank number one to majority of the analysts when it comes down to teams with the most disappointing start to their season. With adding a key acquisition like Josh Hamilton to a lineup that already was highlighted by Albert Pujols and last years MVP runner up Mike Trout, you probably expected this Angel team to knock-out starting pitchers early in the game with their power hitting baseball. But it’s been everything but that, as the big three have combined for a .238 batting average with 11 home runs and 80 strikeouts to start the year. The Angels are lucky the Houston Astros joined the A.L. West this season or else they would be sitting dead last in the division.
That does it for the American League, make sure to tune in tomorrow to read about my first month review of the National League.