Major League Baseball has a saying, “no game is ever the same” that can be said for seasons as well. There are always great stories that are unexpected and after two months into the 2015 season, it is no different. Here are my top 5 stories as we head into June. Let’s see if you agree!!
1. Houston Astros Lead the AL West
The Houston Astros have no doubt been the talk of Major League Baseball the first two months of the season, posting a 31-20 record and a 4.5 game lead over the Angles. They have taken advantage of a lot of high draft picks and have established the “win now” mentality. This season has been all about the starting pitching, as they pose the 8th best team ERA, at 3.51. But the team is being carried by staff ace Dallas Keuchel, who is 7-1 with a 1.76 ERA and as of now is definitely a Cy Young candidate. Chicks dig the long ball is how I would describe their offense with 68 home runs. Oh, I almost forgot they had an 11 game winning streak mixed in there as well!
The downside is they have the second most strikeouts with 458 in just 50 games and not a single hitter is hitting over .300 in their lineup. They have made it exciting for fans across the country to witness a team go from rags to riches so quickly. The big question now is can they sustain this success through 162 games. I don’t think they will because they are so reliant on the home run ball, but regardless baseball is better when Houston is relevant.
2. Minnesota Twins leading the AL Central
The Minnesota Twins are another team people felt were a couple years away from contending. They are proving people wrong as they sit at 30-19, while maintaining just a slim 0.5 game edge ahead of the Royals, and 3.0 lead over the Tigers. The Twins have taken on the mentality of their new manager Paul Molitor of grit and determination, after a 1-6 start they turned it on with a 20-7 month of May.
They have done it with clutch hitting, by producing a steady .304 team batting avg. with runners in scoring position, plus they’re equipped with a dominant bullpen with Glen Perkins closing games, who has a MLB leading 19 saves. Also, you got to give the old man props as well, Tori Hunter, 39, is playing like he is 29 providing leadership and production. Hunter is hitting .279 with 7 home runs and 32 RBI. A guy that has been through it all in his career and this year back where it all started helping the Twins to a surprising start.
3. Kris Bryant is Here to Stay
One of the big stories coming out of spring training was would Bryant be ready to make the next jump to the Big Leagues. Early on, he was unable to for financial reasons and this became the best thing for the Cubs. By receiving an extra year of Bryant, all of their patience with Bryant soon came to fruition as within couple of weeks, the man sprouted into a star. In his first 40 games he has shown he has it. He is hitting .281 with 7 home runs and 32 RBI and .395 on base percentage, shows he is willing to take his walks and do anything to win.
He is in the middle of a lineup that has Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler, Addison Russell, and Starlin Castro. The crazy thing is they have more coming up though the pipeline, the skies the limit for this team for Bryant for many years to come. Bryant is just getting started and with all of the talent we’ve seen so far with him and Bryce Harper, surely both will be making major impact for years, thus resulting in additional excitement to watch!
4. Bryce Harper Breakout Start
Bryce Harper is a guy you either love him or hate him, he has been hampered by injuries throughout the early part of his career. Though, he is making up for that this season with a .325 average, 18 home runs and 43 RBI. Ironically, he was voted the most hated player in the off-season and for the most part, has lived up to his rather perplexing antics. He has also transformed into a pitcher’s worst nightmare. By putting this into prospective, he had 13 home runs in the month of May that ties the number the Atlanta Braves had as a team.
He is putting up MVP type numbers right now, which is fueled by staying healthy, who knows where this start will take him, but this is what the Nationals expected of him from the beginning. This will be interesting to see if he can keep up this pace moving forward.
5. Marlins Floundering
The Miami Marlins are by far and away the most disappointing team in 2015 with a 20-31 record and pitted 4th in the NL East. They came into the year with high expectations after signing their slugger Giancarlo Stanton to that record deal and adding quality pieces around him. Though, basically nothing has worked out the way everyone was hoping for coming in.
They were 18-22 before escaping a no-hitter against the Braves’ Shelby Miller. As a result, almost getting no-hit was the ending of the Mike Redmond era, as he was fired after the game. This was way too early in my opinion, and now the carryover effects create a crater in the heart of the organization. Now they have to pick-up the pieces and start a new change. However, much of the team’s vast underachievement wasn’t the manager’s fault. In fact, it was a leaky bullpen that has seen the former closer post a 1-5 record with 6.98 ERA.
This situation became an entire joke when their owner decided not to hire a baseball guy like Bret Butler or Jeff Conine. Instead they decided to hire their general manager Dan Jennings to probably save money because they have to pay Redmond though 2017 and our still paying for the remnants of Ozzie Guillen and another former manager.