Every baseball season, some teams surprise their fans — whether that’s in a positive way or not. Some teams unexpectedly become viable contenders for a World Series title, while others with lofty preseason aspirations are disappointing.
In the 2018 MLB season so far, several teams are doing surprisingly well — here are three of them.
1. Oakland Athletics
The top three teams in the AL West are all viable postseason contenders. The Houston Astros are unsurprisingly leading and likely locks to win the division, though the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics have already won 60 or more games. They are competing for the second Wild Card spot, right behind the Yankees.
The degree of success that Oakland and Seattle are having is surprising. Oakland’s offense wasn’t striking on paper before the year, though Jed Lowrie is having the best season of his career, while Matt Chapman and Matt Olson continue to provide power and contact. Blake Treinen has also emerged as one of the league’s best closers. They have done great so far, though questions remain as to whether their rotation is strong enough to hang around.
2. Seattle Mariners
The other AL West surprise, the Seattle Mariners, was thrown into disarray upon the March news that star 2B Robinson Cano is suspended for 80 games. The Mariners, though, are one of the AL’s best teams, despite Cano’s absence and SP Felix Hernandez not contributing much.
Strong seasons by Mitch Haniger and Jean Segura are helping lead the offense, while SP James Paxton has emerged as one of the league’s most lights-out starters. Closer Edwin Diaz is also very effective, with a chance at the season record for saves. Like the Athletics, there are questions as to whether the Mariners can stick around — though they have certainly shown they are a viable Wild Card contender.
3. Atlanta Braves
The Braves have the league’s best farm system, so while it’s not exactly surprising that their roster has talent, it is a bit shocking that their star prospects have arrived so soon. Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies are already contributing All Star-caliber numbers — so much for getting acclimated to the big leagues.
The success of their younger players is combining with an MVP candidate season from Freddie Freeman, an All-Star campaign from veteran Nick Markakis and a stellar catching duo of Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Flowers.
The Phillies, another relatively surprising success, will be competing with the Braves for a playoff spot deep into the season.
On the other end of the spectrum, a few teams have been disappointing fans — like these three.
1. Washington Nationals
The Nationals have some of the best players in the world, like Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer, so their painfully mediocre start is a surprise.
Harper continues to hit for power, though his batting average is very low. Adam Eaton is hurt again, Anthony Rendon has often been injured and Strasburg is on and off the DL. Scherzer remains dominant and Harper will likely do better in the second half, though the Nationals seem to lack depth in general. It wasn’t expected that Harper would struggle so much and no other Nationals player would emerge.
2. New York Mets
Although no one anticipated an extraordinarily great season from the Mets, a red-hot 11-1 start suggested the Mets may at least compete for a Wild Card. The team’s best start in franchise history, followed by a significantly forgettable season, is disappointing.
For a team that has two bonafide aces in Noah Syndergaard and Noah DeGrom, a capable closer in Jeurys Familia — before his trade to Oakland — and a core of young hitters like Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Nimmo that impress, it’s a disappointing surprise that the Mets are definitely among the worst teams this season. Mediocrity was the expectation, though failure is the rest so far.
3. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies have a winning record, though there were expectations they would lead their division — or at least come close to it. Offensive stars like Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon, in addition to a friendly home park and consistent rotation, make their start a fairly unexciting one. The team still has ample time to impress extensively, though so far, the results have been lower than expected.
Baseball fans look forward to seeing whether these disappointing teams will turn it around, as well as whether the pleasant surprises will continue their success.