Philadelphia, PA – It's hard to believe, but we already have a month in the books of the Major League Baseball season.
And, of course, there have been some surprises.
None more so than in the American League East, where it was a fait accompli this winter that the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox were finally both going to be a non-factor in a division that was supposedly going to be spearheaded by the new-look Toronto Blue Jays as well as the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays.
Well, the Red Sox were the first to 20 wins, own the best record in baseball and David Ortiz is hitting close to .500 and has 15 RBI in 10 games.
And the Yankees?
Well, they have the second-best mark in the AL, despite a disabled list that includes the likes of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis, Ivan Nova, Francisco Cervelli and, most recently, Joba Chamberlain.
Boston's pitching has carried it in the early going. No two players have benefited from having new manager and former pitching coach John Farrell around more so than Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester. Buchholz is an amazing 6-0 with a 1.01 ERA, while Lester is 4-0 with a 3.11 ERA.
Something to watch over the next few weeks, though. Toronto's television crew accused the Red Sox, specifically Buchholz, of doctoring the ball. The Red Sox denied the charges and the Blue Jays themselves never raised a stink about anything. So, really there is nothing to see here. But,.it will be interesting to see if a team asks to check the ball the next time Buchholz takes the hill. Even if it's just to throw him off.
New York's mish-mosh lineup, meanwhile, has been paced by, of course, Robinson Cano, who is playing like an MVP, but he has been helped by castoffs Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay and Travis Hafner.The Yankees have become a fun team to watch with all these players seemingly thrown by the wayside, but that'll change soon as the stars slowly start to make their way back, making them once again the most unlikeable team in the league.
Kansas City has lived up to preseason expectations and sit atop the AL Central. Of course, it's been 27 years since the Royals have seen any postseason action, but fans are starting to buy into this group ... finally.
And why not? The Royals have one of the best young lineups in the game and their top four pitchers have combined to go 10-5 with a 3.21 ERA. James Shields has done wonders for that staff, and Jeremy Guthrie, well, he hasn't lost since last August.
But as much of a feel good story as the Royals and even the Yankees could be, it is far worse on the left coast, where for the second straight year the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have vastly underachieved. Only this time there's not another Mike Trout walking through that door to save Mike Scioscia's job.
You are starting to get the feeling that Scioscia may not see June 1 as manager. And it won't be the wrong move. The Angels are eight games under .500 and just can't seem to get out of their own way. Scioscia's still owed a lot of money, but something has to change.
Over in the National League, there has been no bigger surprise than the Colorado Rockies, who stormed out of the gates and head into the first weekend of May atop the West under new manager Walt Weiss.
If you want an early season MVP candidate in the NL, look no further than Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who is hitting .317 with five home runs, 15 RBI and 23 runs scored for the surprising Rockies.
Gonzalez, though, has some company in the NVP debate alongside Atlanta's Justin Upton, who has accustomed himself nicely in Dixie, swatting a major league-best 12 home runs that went an average distance of 423.5 feet.
Upton is a big reason why the Braves lead the NL East. It figures to be a dogfight all year between them and the Washington Nationals, who need to get Stephen Strasburg right if they are going to be contenders.
Strasburg has been one of the bigger disappointments on the year
By the way, raise your hand if you had Kyle Kendrick as the Philadelphia Phillies' ERA leader among starters?
There hasn't been much to like about the Phillies at all. They have no plan at the plate, Roy Halladay has been awful and their bullpen seems incapable of holding a lead. This is going to end badly for manager Charlie Manuel.
And as far as the New York Mets and Florida Marlins are concerned? Well, let's just say it's getting close to Bob Geren time in Flushing. The Marlins? Who cares? Nobody will pay any attention to them until they actively look to sell Giancarlo Stanton.
Then there is the NL Central - the ugliest division in baseball. Nothing sexy, just quality baseball. That's probably the best way to describe the St. Louis Cardinals, who sit atop the division at the moment. Then again, that description could be used to describe two teams that trail them, the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates.
St. Louis has gotten Adam Wainwright back to being the pitcher he was before his Tommy John surgery. In fact, the rotation as a whole has been incredible and the reason why they are where they are.
The Reds suffered a major injury early on when Ryan Ludwick went down with a shoulder injury, not to mention the loss of ace Johnny Cueto, who has been sidelined since mid-Aprli with a lat strain. Dusty Baker's club, though, has barely skipped a beat with 23-year-old lefty Tony Cingrani taking Cueto's spot,
He's been so good that it will be interesting what happens once Cueto returns.
Well, that's a month in the books. Let's see what May has in store.