The Five Biggest Surprises of the 2016 MLB Season
By: Chandler Ragsdale
1) The Chicago Cubs
Everyone knew that the Chicago Cubs would be good this year, and were probably favorites to win the World Series. However, I don’t think anyone could have predicted the dominance that they’ve had so far. They hold a 24-6 record which is the best in the MLB this season, to go along with a crazy +102 run differential. This team is establishing itself as the best team in baseball. A scary thought: think about how dangerous this lineup would be with Kyle Schwarber in it, who is out for the season.
2) The Boston Red Sox
Most observers predicted that the Red Sox offense would take off this year with the potency they have in the lineup. The question entering the season was simple: could they pitch? So far, the answer to that question has been yes. Boston has a pretty high team ERA at 4.22, but with the offense that they have, they don’t need to put up stellar pitching numbers; they just need to pitch well enough to win ballgames. With a 19-13 record to date, they have done so.
I am all for umpires ejecting mouthy players after a while. First of all, umpiring is not an easy thing to do. Second, some calls that are made are wrong. The umpires understand as much, but players also need to understand that staying on their backs puts them in the fast lane to ejection. That is exactly what is being done this season. For example, Bryce Harper spewed a mouthful at an umpire for calling a third strike in the bottom of the ninth against the Detroit Tigers. After the call was made, Harper started in on the umpire, despite the fact that the call that was made was correct, and ended up getting tossed. Harper then seemed surprised that he was thrown out. Really? Harper is better than this, and should respect the umpires calling the game. We all get frustrated, but Harper needs to control his temper, and he’s not alone. Many players have been doing things like this recently and the umpires need to be respected.
4) The Houston Astros
At 13-20 and in last place in the AL West, the Astros are off to a very rough start to the 2016 season. This is a team that made the playoffs last year, and are now struggling to stay relevant. With their middle infield and pitching staff, the Astros possess the talent to get back to the playoffs. Dallas Keuchel also needs to step up for Houston to be better than their present record. Keuchel’s ERA is a whopping 4.70, which is unacceptable for the ace of the staff. Overall, the team is poised to be better than they currently are. Only time will tell if they can make it happen.
5) The Chicago White Sox
As good as the team on the north side of Chicago has been, the south-siders are right behind them in terms of success this season. The White Sox have been very good this season, checking in at 23-10 to this point, trailing only the Cubs for the best in the bigs. The addition of Todd Frazier this offseason has given the Pale Hose a much needed shot in the arm offensively. With a 5-1 record and a microscopic 1.38 ERA, Jose Quintana has been equally stellar. The bullpen has held its own, and the lineup is very good from top to bottom. This team is poised to make a run; we could very well see an all-Chicago World Series in 2016.
All stats and info are from mlb.com and mlb.com/stats