Whoa…what is up with this start? Seriously, I’m incredibly confused. There are a bunch of teams that have been seemingly overperforming, yet half the time I look up and they’re still below .500. (I’m still trying to figure out how the Royals have given off the impression of getting off to a good start despite never managing to get above .500 at any point this season.) Also, the NL Central is just as pitiful as expected, except for the fact that this means it took 9 games and nearly two weeks for the Pirates to even drop as low as fourth, which was in itself a surprise as the now-third-place Cubs have clearly looked like the worse team. Furthermore, they got off to this start with a West Coast road trip, including series against the Diamondbacks and Giants, the two best teams in the NL West (and contrary to most years, this has nothing to do with the fact that they happened to draw the Pirates early.) After all, there’s only so much that a lucky schedule can do for your early appearance. Case in point: The Tampa Bay Rays. Blessed with two series against the Orioles in the opening week-and-a-half, they nevertheless managed to spend more time out of first place than in it. Okay, you can blame their “late start” for that–they’ve got 6 days where they trail someone else and 5 where they don’t, but because they drew the Tuesday opener and Boston-New York was the Sunday-opener, two of their 6 days outside of first were with a 0-0 record. Still doesn’t change the fact that Toronto has spent the most time in first place in the AL East. (The Rays and Jays are tied right now.)
Actually, you know what? Let’s rate each division on the “WTF-ometer”, on a scale of 1-10.
AL East: 4/10. Baltimore struggling is no surprise, although this is a bit ridiculous, but as mentioned before, Toronto is off to a surprisingly good start. The big surprise, however, is that since winning on opening night, it’s been all downhill for the Red Sox, who have yet to get above .500 again.
AL Central: 2/10. I’ve heard some people express surprise about the Tigers’ quick start, but if anything, I’m more impressed by the Twins. Still, this is pretty much exactly as expected.
AL West: 9/10. After being the only one to not win their opener, the Athletics have been a dominant force, reaching as high as four games above .500 and remaining in first place since April 8. On the flip side, the Angels have been abysmal, and it’s the Rangers, not the Mariners, who have applied the most pressure on the A’s thus far. This division is almost precisely counter to my expectations; the only thing I had right was the Mariners being ahead of the Angels.
NL East: 2/10. LOL Mets. Phillies being the dominant team in the NL is no surprise, nor are the Braves and Marlins being decent. The only thing of note is Jorge Cantu of the Florida Marlins, who became the first player in major league history with both a hit and an RBI in each of his team’s first nine games of the season. Again, this is evidence that Elias keeps track of way too many weird records.
NL Central: 8/10. Cardinals good? No surprise. Reds pretty good as well? Surprise to many, but not a huge surprise to me. Cubs and Brewers kind of weak? Eh…whatever. Pirates requiring 7 games to fall below .500 for the first time? Um, yeah, that’s a bit unexpected. Houston requiring 9 games to pick up their first win? Okay, yeah, they’re bad, but not that bad. Houston, having entered the day winless, may end the day with a better record than another major league team? Um, what?!?! Okay, yeah, this season is screwy.
NL West: 6/10. You wouldn’t think that a division in which I said that pretty much anything can happen could turn out screwy, right? Well, it can. The Diamondbacks being the team to remain the closest to the Giants isn’t really that weird in spite of their last-place finish in 2009, because said last-place finish was itself a bit inexplicable. The fact that the Giants had to be “held close” in the first place? I know that they’re definitely a contender, but of the four that I had marked as contenders, they were the ones I’d have thought would be least likely to run away with it–and while it’s nothing like what the Phillies are doing, they definitely have a decided lead. Also, they were the last undefeated team. Yes, it only took until game 5 for them to lose, but still…the Giants are not the team you’d expect to be the last to lose a game. On the other hand…look at their schedule. They started off with Houston, who as we noted took quite a bit longer to get their first win, then followed it up by taking…well, actually, no, the series with the Braves was the next one, and then the Pirates. Still, their 7-2 record might be a tad inflated.