Looking at early season MLB performances
Are the Red Sox currently suffering from a World Series hangover? Many in the media would lead you to believe so, as would Boston’s 7-13 record (good for last in the AL East). And while they don't have much of a bullpen, they bring nearly an identical copy of last year’s champions into the 2019 season, showing this slow start is probably nothing more than precisely that. Boston is not the only team to surprise, however, in the early going, so let’s take a look at which teams are exceeding or failing expectations so far and determine how legit their performances are to date.
Boston Red Sox: 7-13, last in AL East
As stated above, they have just about the same team from last year, which mind you did win the World Series. Now while going back-to-back is an extremely difficult feat, making it back to the Postseason fresh off a championship is not, and I don’t see any reason why the Red Sox shouldn’t be popping champagne in September. Oddly enough, Boston does actually own the second-worst record all-time for a defending World Series champion team, when they went 71-91 in 2014, but that was due in large part to injuries (which this current team has avoided so far). Expect a bounce back soon, and we’ll probably see them go on an absolute tear.
Seattle Mariners: 15-8, 2nd in AL West
After Jerry Dipoto ran his annual yard sale this offseason, many (including myself) pegged the Mariners to have a down year as they seemingly entered a rebuild. However, they’ve smashed their way to an impressive start so far, only being cooled down by the even-hotter Houston Astros. Their offense leads the MLB in runs, home runs, hits and slugging percentage, and they lead the American League in OPS. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely this ragtag offense can keep up this pace for an entire season, and while they do have some talent it doesn't appear it will be enough to hang with the big boys through September.
Pittsburgh Pirates: 11-6, 1st in NL Central
They haven't played nearly as many games as other teams in the MLB, but their start is impressive nonetheless. Their pitching has looked excellent so far, which its had to be given their offense and defense rate towards the bottom of the league. They certainly have talent in Pittsburgh, but in a division with the Brewers, Cubs and Cardinals it’s hard to see them competing for much longer.
Colorado Rockies: 8-12, 4th in NL West
While this start may not seem horrific, it’s the underlying numbers that show a cause for concern in Colorado. For a few seasons now, we have seen their offense steadily decline from white hot to league average, and that trend is continuing so far this year as they have scored a measly 3.45 runs per game. While their pitching has improved over the years, right now their numbers are not great, and their defense has really had to keep them in games this year. Colorado could be in for a down year, and they might not even see the Postseason.
Tampa Bay Rays: 14-6, 1st in AL East
Ah yes, the Rays. Everyone’s hot pick to go off this year. Well, so far they have lived up to the hype, with an above-average offense and tremendous pitching staff. They continue to change the way games are managed from the pitching side of things, and it has continued to work for them. If you took their team in a vacuum, you would say they are going to have a good amount of success this year, but when the Yankees and Red Sox get going (which they will), it’s going to be a lot tougher for Tampa to stay atop the division.
Chicago Cubs: 9-9, 4th in NL Central
Listen, a .500 start to the season is not the end of the world, but people are taking one look at the Cubs and freaking out. Sure, their pitching has not been very good at all and they’ve made the second-most errors in the MLB this season, but it’s a similar case to the Red Sox: they’ve won a championship with almost the same team, and they’re even coming off a 95-win season (which was also considered a down year for them). This may sound like a cliché, but with this much starpower they’ll get it right eventually, and they should challenge for the Central crown.