The first month of the season is nearly complete and like any year, there are plenty of early surprises and disappointments. The defending champion Giants are currently at the bottom of the NL West with a 9-13, so you won’t see them on this list. Nor will you see the A’s, who are second from the bottom with the same record. Some teams, however, have tried to do more to separate from the pack through the early going. Here’s the best of the best:
1. St. Louis Cardinals (14-6, NL Central)
Despite losing ace Adam Wainright to a torn achilles, the Cardinals still sit atop a competitive division, two games ahead of the upstart Cubs. They boast the highest winning percentage in the league, and their history of sustained success has them in the top spot.
2. Kansas City Royals (14-7, AL Central)
It’s a dogfight atop the AL Central between the Royals and Tigers, and so far, the Royals have been better through the first month. They have one fewer win, but they’ve scored more runs and have a greater differential than the Tigers – and they’re the defending AL Champs.
3. Detroit Tigers (15-7, AL Central)
See above. They still have a ton of offense with Miguel Cabrera anchoring the lineup, but they’ve struggled at home, with five of their seven losses coming in Detroit. The winner of the AL Central has a good chance (at least through a month) to be considered the favorite to represent the American League in the World Series.
4. Houston Astros (14-7, AL West)
The West was thought to be perhaps the most competitive division in baseball entering the season. The Angels have the reigning MVP, the A’s are coming off a playoff season, and the Mariners are stacked with young talent (plus Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez). The general consensus was that the Astros have a great pool of prospects, but were still a year away – but they’ve opened some eyes early in the season. Dallas Keuchel has been stellar at the top of the rotation, but most impressively, they are 10-2 on the road with a four game lead in the division.
5. New York Mets (15-7, NL East)
The Mets are probably the most surprising on this list, at least according to record, but that there is chaos in the NL East isn’t a huge shock. The Nationals came into the year with a “World Series Or Bust” attitude and an overmatched manager in Matt Williams. Other than that, the division was in disarray. With the Phillies being overloaded with bad contracts for over-the-hill talent and the Braves being hell-bent on sending their young talent elsewhere. The Mets didn’t warrant any consideration as a contender, nor was anyone overly impressed with their farm system – but they’ve managed to put it together this year behind a strong return from Matt Harvey and a 10-0 record at home.