With a month down, what do we really know about the MLB? Well, for starters, we know Matt Kemp was serious when he said he was shooting for a 50/50 season. We know that Stephen Strasburg is a quintessential ace who services were dearly missed last season. We also know that the standings today wont be anywhere near where they are right now. But still, as May kicks off, let’s take a look around the Bigs.
THE TOP FIVE
Texas Rangers (17-6)
The two-time defending American League Champs have been decimating teams league wide with their superior lineup. They would probably average 15 runs a game if they could play 162 times at Fenway Park. Also, Yu Darvish has proven to be worth the investment in the early goings with a 4-0 record after his first professional month. But, the offense is their catalyst. Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz, Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre, and Josh Hamilton are enough to beat any pitcher on his best day. This team has a real chance of making its third consecutive trip to the World Series.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (16-7)
It seemed as if the second this team had financial stability, everything started clicking. Sure, they already had the reigning MVP and CY Young winner on roster, but it didn’t seem to help them much last season. Andre Ethier’s health help tremendously if this team plans on competing for the second season. The Dodgers also hold the league’s best home record at 10-2. Are they for real? Only time will tell. As of today, I would hate to play this team in a play-in game.
3. Tampa Bay Rays (15-8)
David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore… You know the league’s best rotation by now. And other than their rookie Moore, they have not disappointed, giving the Rays sole possession of first place in the AL East. While B.J. Upton’s return should help boost their offense, the Rays suffer a huge blow as Evan Longoria takes his annual trip to the DL. Longoria will be out 6-8 weeks with a bad hamstring. In the meantime, Tampa’s pitching needs to carry them. A tall task indeed, but something this talented staff can handle.
4. Washington Nationals (14-8)
Bryce Harper made his major league debut and was arguably more impressive in the field than he was with his bat. Regardless, he is not the reason this is a first place ball club after the first month. Since his Tommy John surgery, Strasburg has pitched 56 innings striking out 58 batters while only walking eight. He has allowed zero home runs over that span. Along side Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez, the Nationals have put together one of the most talented staffs in the league. When Ryan Zimmerman and Drew Storen return, this team should only continue to improve (with or without Harper).
5. Atlanta Braves (14-9)
A half game behind the Nats, the Braves seem to be rebounding nicely from their September collapse. While Jair Jurrjens is pitching worse than horrifically, Tommy Hanson, Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy have picked up the slack. Add in the fact that Jason Heyward has returned to his rookie year beast form and this team has a real chance to make last September feel like a bad dream. Michael Bourn, Dan Uggla, and Freddie Freeman have gotten off to semi-slow starts which means this should be a scary matchup once they hit their stride.
Carl Crawford – Crawford had a forgettable debut season in Boston. The expectations for him to bounce back were sky high. After an elbow injury halted his ability to participate in Spring Training, he visited with Dr. James Andrews, doctor to the stars. After his visit, it was said that he may be out an additional three months. Disappointing to say the least.
Michael Pineda – After an impressive rookie season, Pineda was traded to the Yankees for their stud prospect Jesus Montero. Despite being an all star caliber pitcher last season, Pineda has yet to debut with the Bombers with an arm injury that may leave him sidelined all season.
Albert Pujols – The biggest offseason acquisition, possibly in history, has currently transformed a second place team with playoff aspirations into a last place team looking to get out of the basement. Pujols is in the midst of his second longest homer-less drought of his career. His struggles have certainly not helped the Angels who are only in year one of a decade long contract. While I’m confident he will get out of this funk, it has not looked good thus far.
In the National League, it’s clearly Matt Kemp and I’m not sure there’s even a close second at this point. It’s not even worth writing about until someone overtakes him.
In the American League, I believe there is an actual debate. Two sides of the same coin as it were. Josh Hamilton is the best hitter on the best team in the league. He has already won the award and through one month Hamilton is hitting .395 with nine homers, 25 RBI, and 20 runs. With these type of power numbers on the best team in the league, it’s hard not to give him the early lead.
While no DH has ever won the award, it’s hard to deny the historic April David Ortiz had at the dish. The 36 year old belted six home runs with 20 RBI and 17 runs. He has been the best player on the second highest scoring in the American League. While he has only has a slightly better chance of winning MVP than I do, you have to give Papi props on his fast start.
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