MLB: Brewers and Diamondbacks lead cast of surprise teams
MADISON, WI, April 20, 2014 —While the season is still young and there are very few conclusions that can be drawn, the first few weeks of the season has given us some surprises. It is far too early for the Brewers to start printing playoff tickets and the Diamondbacks have not been mathematically eliminated, but their performances thus far have been far from what many expected.
The Brewers are off to a 14-5 start and find themselves atop the NL Central. The Brewers offense appears better than many expected and has been led by Carlos Gomez and his .312/.365/.610 slash line as well as a healthy Aramis Ramirez. The team has also been led by a strong pitching performance. The Brewers’ pitchers have allowed just 63 runs.
The Brewers lack a true ace, and may not even have one of the top 25 pitchers in baseball, but they do have a variety of guys who could be considered number two and three starters. Those starters have combined to turn in 14 quality starts in 19 opportunities.
The bullpen has been solid as well, posting a 2.67 ERA and an MLB best 1.03 WHIP. While the Brewers have certainly not locked up the NL Central, they do have 14 wins and given that it only took 90 wins to get an NL Wild Card there is certainly reason for optimism in Milwaukee.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from where the Brewers stand are the Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona has a league worst 5-14 record, but more importantly has a league worst -46 run differential. Paul Goldschmidt is again posting gaudy numbers with a .313/.370/.518 slash line. Mark Trumbo may very well hit the 40 HR’s many expect, but is doing so with a BA near the Mendoza line.
The Diamondbacks are truly being done in by their starting pitching, which has provided just three quality starts in 21 games and carries a 7.50 ERA, far and away the worst in MLB.
It may be likely the staff puts things together and improves, especially with RHP Archie Bradley’s promotion on the horizon, the team has already dug itself quite a hole as they find themselves six games behind the heavily favored Dodgers.
Other things that jump off the page in the early going
The Angels offense, which has scored 97 runs despite Josh Hamilton missing over half the team’s games.
The Braves pitching staff has allowed a league low 49 runs despite losing Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy.
The Giants bullpen has been phenomenal, posting a 1.79 ERA, which is about a quarter of a run better than any other team.
The Cardinals bullpen, in contrast, has been a disaster in posting a 5.19 ERA as both Trevor Rosenthal and Seth Maness have struggled in the early going.
The White Sox offseason acquisitions have spurred the offense to an MLB best 106 runs. Unfortunately, they have also allowed an MLB worst 106 runs and predictably find themselves right around .500.
While hitting throughout the majors is down over the past few years, the Astros are far and away the worst in baseball with a .192/.265/.338 slash line. That slash line is to be expected from a number eight or number nine hitter, but it is unacceptable for an entire team and largely explains their AL Worst 5-13 record.