Top Five Surprises of the MLB Season
June 4, 2012 by Adam Russell • Print Story •
Baseball is a funny game in that anything can happen on any day at any moment. At least once a season, we hear a broadcaster or writer or analyst claim that they saw something they've never seen before. With two months of the current MLB season in the books, here are five things that, while maybe they're not that uncommon, are surprising to me.
1. Albert Pujols — As a Seattle Mariners fan, when it was announced that Pujols was coming to the Angels, it took away any sense of hope that the M's could contend for the AL West title. The initial thought was that Texas finally had someone in the division to contend with and that Albert was the one who would make the Angels that team. Well, while the Angels are nipping at the Rangers' heels (only 4.5 games back), it hasn't been Pujols that's been keeping them near the top. His .238 batting average and 8 home runs — all in the month of May — are career lows for him at this juncture of the season. And although it appears he's picking up steam, he has a lot of ground to make up to match the offensive production of past years.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers — Here's a team that was picked to be near the middle or bottom of the NL West, yet they've managed to put together the best record in baseball two months into the season. What's interesting is that this is basically the same roster they had last year when they won only 82 games. Add to that the fact that they've kept up the pace, despite Matt Kemp being on the DL for a couple weeks, and the Dodgers may be the biggest surprise of the National League so far … or are they?
3. NL East — Okay, so either I need to get my eyes checked or I simply need to accept the fact that the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins are at the top of the division. Last season, the Nats finished a game below .500 and the Marlins were dead last in the division, losing 90 games; but somehow they've both come out strong to start the season. Of course, baseball has a very long season, so anything could happen between now and October, but if they continue to stay atop the standings and both make the playoffs, that would be even more surprising than the Dodgers finishing with the best record in baseball.
4. Philip Humber's Perfect Game — Here's a guy who has been in and out of the minors since breaking in to "The Show" back in 2006, although to be fair his previous two seasons only saw him pitch one game each in the minors. Last year was his best season by far, posting a 9-9 record with a 3.75 ERA. Yet somehow he stymied the Mariners on April 21 to pitch the 21st perfecto in baseball history. But, as I said at the top, baseball is a funny game and its unpredictability is what can place a guy like Humber in the record books with the likes of Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, and Randy Johnson.
5. Three No-Hitters — Okay, so maybe this isn't so surprising. There have been several seasons where three or more no-hitters have been tossed; no-nos seem to come in bunches. But the fact that all three this season were thrown in the first two months (a first) makes me wonder if we'll see a repeat of 2010 when six no-nos were twirled, or 1990 and '91 when seven were thrown in each season. And since no one can predict when a no-hitter will happen, who knows how many we could have the rest of the way? At this pace, we could easily see nine this season — or we could see none.
So, while baseball seems to always be full of surprises, who knows if they will stay this way? Will Pujols get on a tear and pull his numbers up to what most people expect? Will the Dodgers, Nationals, and Marlins be able to continue their current winning paces? Or will we see a flurry of no-hitters and perfect games this season? Only time will tell, and with four months left in the season, there's plenty of time to find out.