Are these teams the real deal, no deal … or both?
Early-season team records as a small sample size can be very misleading. On the other hand, to apply that to every team can be overlooking clear signs of improvement or decline. Let’s take a look at some of the ones that stick out.
Baltimore, 20-12: No Deal — This one jumps right out at you considering recent history and the division they’re in. They’re hitting for a lot of power and have a decent everyday lineup, but I believe their pitching is unsustainable for a full season. Hopefully, they can revitalize a great baseball city even for a short period, but I think they end the year well short of a playoff berth.
Boston, 12-19: Both — The Red Sox are short-stacked this year and a mediocre season was probably coming, but not this bad.
L.A. Angels, 14-18: No Deal — The offense hasn’t fired up yet with the well-publicized struggles of Albert Pujols. This team should get it turned around and be a playoff team.
Washington, 19-12: Real Deal — Although the Nationals have been progressing, the question was how good and how soon? Their excellent starting pitching is no fluke. To stay in playoff contention for the whole year, however, they need a little more out of their offense.
N.Y. Mets, 18-13: No Deal — The Mets are having a good start to the season with contributions from almost everybody. They don’t have the horses, though, to stay in a playoff race all year or even finish .500.
Philadelphia, 14-18: Both — They clearly didn’t have enough offense to start the year, and an injury to any of their big pitchers on top of that was going to be tough to overcome. If they can get some guys back and stay relatively healthy they should be able to get it going and win the division.
Houston, 14-17: No Deal — 14-17 looks pretty good for a team that most thought may lose 110 games. There is still a dearth of talent there, which will eventually rear its head. 110 losses may be avoided but not 100.
L.A. Dodgers, 20-11: Real Deal — They looked to be a team with a superstar outfielder and a superstar pitcher and not much else. The key ingredient here was the ability of Andre Ethier to regain his power and provide Matt Kemp with protection. The other reason for their success is the weakness of the division.