Which of MLB’s most surprising teams have real staying power to contend for the rest of the year?
With a little more than two weeks worth of games in the books, the MLB standings are beginning to take a more concrete shape. It’s been nothing but domination from the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. The BoSox are off to a 13-2 start and have not been challenged in any of their series to date, but that should not come as much of a surprise. The Red Sox have won the division two years in a row and brought in the biggest free-agent bat on the market in J.D. Martinez.
Across the league, three of the remaining divisions are led by multiple games by teams that finished below .500 in 2017. The Los Angeles Angels, not the defending World Series champion Houston Astros lead the AL West and are the talk of baseball thanks to two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani. Left for dead after trading two All-Stars, the Pittsburgh Pirates lead the NL Central.
It is far too early to make definitive statements about baseball teams off to hot starts, but MLB’s five most surprising teams all deserve a closer look. Which ones are for real, and which will fade down the standings when the action heats up in August and September?
5. Arizona Diamondbacks, 11-4
The Arizona Diamondbacks might not fully qualify as a surprise team given that they won the NL Wild Card Game last season and gave the Los Angeles Dodgers fits the entire second half, but not many saw them getting off to such a hot start in the packed NL West. The Diamondbacks have yet to suffer a losing streak and have the second-best ERA in the National League.
Arizona had one of the best lineups in the league last year, but the offense is struggling to find its footing without J.D. Martinez. The decision to install humidors to deal with the arid climate of Phoenix might also tamp the offense down slightly. It’s still too early to tell how offense will be affected. Paul Goldschmidt is starting to come out of a early slump, and the team’s outfield looks strong.
Led by closer Brad Boxberger, who has not allowed a single run in seven innings, the Diamondbacks have the best bullpen in Major League Baseball so far this season. Archie Bradley and Fernando Salas have excelled in their multi-inning swingman roles.
Conclusion: The Dodgers should be more than a little nervous to be looking up at this very complete Diamondbacks team from fourth place in the NL West.