Courtesy of MCT
A month into the season of MLB for many people isn’t enough to determine who the best team will be. But ask the Boston Red Sox or Atlanta Braves and they’ll tell you every one of the 162 games matters. Each team was knocked out of the playoff race by one game on the last game of the year.
A month into the 2012 campaign is plenty of time to realize there are unexpected teams off to a strong start and pre-season title contenders who are struggling mightily.
The Texas Rangers are atop the American League West with a 17-8 record and are four-and-a-half games ahead of second place. The Rangers are second in the majors in run differential, having outscored opponents by a total of 49 runs. They lead the AL in batting average (.288), on base percentage (.347) and slugging percentage (.470) and also are second in runs (136). Texas is led by outfielder Josh Hamilton, who leads the AL with nine home runs and 25 RBI and a .395 batting average.
Honorable mention goes to the Cleveland Indians, who are 12-10 on the season and in first in the AL Central.
One team who’s not hot is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels are a lowly 10-15 and are seven games behind the Rangers in the AL West in dead last. The Angels are led to mediocrity by the guy who is supposed to bring a championship to Anaheim, Albert Pujols, who is hitting a dismal .208 and has no home runs with only five RBI. Pujols is on pace for career lows in every statistical category, but don’t expect him to stay down for long. The Angels also have one of the best pitching rotations in the majors with Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson, Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver to fix things.
In the National League the other L.A. team, the Los Angeles Dodgers are as hot as any team in baseball. The Dodgers have a 17-8 record and are four games ahead of the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West. The Dodgers are led by MVP candidate Matt Kemp, who is hitting .411 with 12 home runs and 25 RBI. Kemp leads the MLB in each of those stats, except for RBI, led by his teammate, Andre Ethier with 27. Amazingly, the Dodgers have only outscored teams by a combined 10 runs.
Honorable mention is awarded to the Washington Nationals, who lead the NL East by one game with a 15-9 record.
The disappointment in the National League is the Philadelphia Phillies of the NL East. The Phillies are three games behind the Nationals with a record of 13-13. Philadelphia is 20th in the majors in runs (93), 22nd in on base percentage (.301) and 25th in slugging percentage (.357). The Phillies are missing sluggers Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, each to injuries, and need offense in the meantime. Good news for the Phillies is that Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay are three of the best pitchers in baseball.