A look back at some of the MLB's early season trends
About 20 games into this baseball season, I took a look at six teams who were either severely outperforming or underperforming on their expectations for the year and decided whether those trends were likely to continue. 40 games into the future and with a much clearer view of how the MLB is shaking out, let’s revisit those teams and see how they’ve since played, as well as once again predict whether they can sustain their current level (or even improve upon it).
Boston Red Sox: were 7-13, last in AL East; now 33-30, 3rd in AL East
Even though the Red Sox have righted the ship following an abysmal start, they still don't feel like they’ve found their groove yet, as though their record did start to improve it has since plateaued just above the .500 mark (not a great place to be for the defending World Champs). Tough division play this year has hurt them, but it was similar last year so that’s not really a valid excuse. Their stars have just not performed like stars, with guys like Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez and Chris Sales all taking big steps back from their great seasons a year ago. However, they have continued to show signs of fight, and with this much talent (plus the momentum that is associated with a World Series win), they should continue to climb in the standings.
Seattle Mariners: 15-8, 2nd in AL West; now 27-40, last in AL West
Oh how the mighty have fallen. After leading the MLB in every offensive category imaginable, the Mariners have embarked on just about the worst stretch of baseball possible. I hate to say it, but I did call this...Without much clear talent and already starting to sell players off, expect more of the same for the rest of the season.
Pittsburgh Pirates: 11-6, 1st in NL Central; now 30-32, 4th in NL Central
Pittsburgh has settled in right where everyone expected them to be from the beginning, so I don’t know if you can call this past stretch a failure. Sure, they would’ve liked to capitalize on their hot start, but we all knew they weren’t going to compete with the Cubs and Brewers so this at least lets the organization know where they stand rather than give them a false sense of hope. Still, they remain a decent team that can win some games and stay at .500 like last year.
Colorado Rockies: 8-12, 4th in NL West; now 33-29, 2nd in NL West
Ah, here they come. After grabbing the second Wild Card spot in the NL last year, the Rockies were off to a rough start with many of the same problems that hampered them previously, only amplified. Now, their offense has gotten back on track and the pitching has remained good enough to support it, and they find themselves just .5 games behind that second Wild Card. Though they may not grab it in the end (as the NL is very competitive this year), they should start to pick it up a little more and finish near where they did last year, if not a few wins lower.
Tampa Bay Rays: 14-6, 1st in AL East; now 38-23, 2nd in AL East
Well color me surprised. After a blazing start to the year, I was sure the Rays would regress and fall back into a similar standing as last year, but they have kept on chugging right through the month of May. They’re only .5 games behind the Yankees for the division lead, and this is a team that simply does everything well. Even a drop-off in a category or two probably wouldn’t result in losing, as they have a good all-around team that supports each other and looks locked and loaded for a Cinderella season.
Chicago Cubs: 9-9, 4th in NL Central; now 35-27, T-1st in NL Central
Those pesky Brewers. Cubs fans have seen their team return to form over the past two months or so, and they’re starting to look more and more like that 2016 World Series Champion team. It looks as if they finally feel comfortable again, and at this point I honestly am expecting a regular season similar to that 2016 year (and one that puts them near 100 wins). The record is not sparkling now, but it should steadily improve as we move into summer and put them in a good position come fall.