We are two months into the Major League Baseball season and like every year there are a few teams who have got off to a good start who weren’t predicted to, and on the flip-side teams expected to do well are struggling. Below, I look at some over and underachieving clubs so far.
Baltimore Orioles: The league knew the Orioles had the offense to put up runs, which they have, but their starting pitching, which has been their Achilles heel the past few seasons, has performed solidly. They have the 11th best earned run average in baseball at 3.72 and with their offense being consistent this has enabled them to start the season 30-23.
They were first in the American League East from May 5- 31. They have gone 2-8 in their past 10 games so perhaps the cracks in the armor are starting to show.
New York Mets: Not many people had the Mets at 30-23 and a half game back of first place in the National League East this late in the year, especially after losing all-star shortstop Jose Reyes in the off-season. The team has had some injuries to deal with and don’t have a legitimate power threat in the lineup.
David Wright is a great player, but the dimensions of Citi Field have sapped some of his power production. However, the pitching has been stellar and ace Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in franchise history on Friday. With their young players playing hard, perhaps the Mets can remind the city of New York that there are two baseball teams to pay attention to.
Washington Nationals: With a 30-22 record and first place in the National League East, the young Nats are the talk of D.C. and baseball. Often teams with “potential” can never put it together as a group, but this team seems on the verge of something special. They own the leagues best earned run average of 2.95.
Their starting rotation of Strasburg, Zimmermann, Gonzalez, Jackson, and Detwiler keep the Nationals in every game. With third baseman Ryan Zimmerman locked up long-term and young phenom Bryce Harper producing right away, the Nationals are going to be a team to watch for many years.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Going from last in the National League West in 2010 to first in 2011 and making the playoffs, a better start was expected of the Diamondbacks. Their pitching, which was strong last year led by Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, has been inconsistent, as has Justin Upton, the best player in the division not named Matt Kemp. A return to the 2011 levels of Kennedy, Hudson, and Upton would help Arizona close the gap on the first-place Dodgers.
Philadelphia Phillies: The always-dangerous Phillies have been a victim of age, injuries, and improved division teams. With age comes more injuries, and the Phillies have missed several key players this year.
Chase Utley and Ryan Howard have yet to play this year, Roy Halladay is on the disabled list, and Jimmy Rollins has been non-existent (.237, 2 home runs, 13 runs batted in). With Atlanta, Miami, New York, and Washington all younger and playing well, the Phillies may be near the end of their domination of the division.
Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander. Prince Fielder. Miguel Cabrera. Alex Avila. Austin Jackson. With those types of players, you would think, like I did at the beginning of the season, that Detroit would be at least five to six games ahead of second place. Instead, they are 25-29, third in the American League Central, and six games behind the first-place White Sox (who almost made the over list).
The issue is outside of those players mentioned, and the surprising Andy Dirks, everyone else on the roster is underachieving. For the Tigers to get back into the race, and it is still somewhat early, the supporting cast needs to step-up their performance or once again there will be questions in the Motor City.
The above teams stuck out for me for this article. One can argue Boston has under-performed and the White Sox over-performed. Baseball is not won in June so it will be interesting to see if the teams mentioned can keep up their level of play and either continue to rise or continue to fall.
Your comments and opinions always welcomed.
From the couch…