MLB

3 Good and 3 Bad Surprise Teams in the 2019 MLB Standings

Aroldis Chapman pitches against the Colorado Rockies

The month of July is coming to a close, and most of the league’s teams have played right around 100 games. With a little more than two months to go in the 2019 regular season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have the best record in Major League Baseball at 67-35. The Detroit Tigers (30-65) and Baltimore Orioles (31-68) are battling it out for the league’s worst record.

These results aren’t too surprising; the Dodgers were favored to win the National League coming into the season and Detroit and Baltimore were projected to be among the league’s worst teams. But not all teams have been so predictable; here’s a look at six of the biggest surprises in the 2019 MLB standings.

Good: Minnesota Twins, 61-38

Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario, and Max Kepler celebrating a win
Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario, and Max Kepler celebrating a win | Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

Minnesota has made the playoffs only once since 2011 and went 78-84 in 2018. Going off at 45/1 to win the World Series before the season began, the Twins were expected to be a run-of-the-mill team.

Instead, they were the first team in the majors to hit 50 wins, flying out of the gate to a 50-26 start. One season removed from averaging 4.56 runs per game, this Twins offense led by Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, and Eddie Rosario is averaging 5.63 runs per game, the third-highest total in the league.

Bad: New York Mets, 45-54

Boasting a deep young pitching staff led by Steven Matz, Zach Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, and 2018 Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, the New York Mets were viewed as a legitimate dark horse contender in the National League. They added to their preseason hype with the acquisitions of steady veteran second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz.

Cano has been awful. Diaz is having the worst season of his career. The pitching staff owns a middle-of-the-road team ERA of 4.66. Pete Alonso has been fantastic this season, as has Jeff McNeil, who leads the NL with a .339 batting average. But the play of these two young stars is going to waste on this floundering club.

Good: Atlanta Braves, 60-41

In what was supposed to be a tight race in the NL East this season, the Atlanta Braves have separated themselves from the pack as the clear team to beat in the division with a 60-41 record. Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman lead a talented young offense that ranks third in the NL in runs per game with 5.29. Atlanta is 42-21 over its last 63 games.

Bad: Philadelphia Phillies, 52-48

The season is far from over for the Phillies, but this isn’t the year the team had in mind when it signed Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million deal this offseason. Harper and Jake Arrieta have both underperformed on their massive contracts, and Philadelphia ranks in the bottom half of the league with 4.78 runs per game for (16th) and 4.70 runs per game against (20).

Good: New York Yankees, 64-35

It may seem like a stretch to list the Yankees (who won 100 games last year and entered this year as a World Series favorite) as a surprise in 2019. But this club has been ravaged by injuries to significant players; staff ace Luis Severino has missed the entire season. Giancarlo Stanton has played only nine games. Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius missed over half the season. Dellin Betances is on the 60-day injured list.

Despite all of this, the Yankees aren’t just staying afloat; they are running away with the AL East. New York is on pace for 105 wins.

Bad: Boston Red Sox, 55-46

Chris Sale is still looking for answers in 2019
Chris Sale is still looking for answers in 2019 | Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Through their first 101 games last season, the Red Sox were 70-31. Plenty of teams around the league would love to have a “disappointing” record of 55-46, but the bar is set much higher for this Boston club, especially with the Yankees thriving.

Chris Sale’s miserable season has set the tone for the rest of the pitching staff, which owns a bloated 4.68 team ERA. Boston still has an elite offense averaging 5.69 runs per game that could slug its way into the postseason, but navigating the Wild Card path in the American League with this pitching staff will be a tall task.