The first quarter of baseball is officially over, and now the rumors and gossip begin. The ascent of a few surprise teams coupled with the usual for the perennial high-performers has made for a great season to watch up to this point.
Surprise teams to watch:
The Houston Astros: The Astros surprised everyone early by not only taking the top division spot, but also by holding the best record in the league for a couple weeks. They are not a seasoned team, but the young players have enough experience to work well with their veterans Jed Lowrie and Chris Carter. Additionally, their ace Dallas Keuchel is having an outstanding season to give them the push for the playoffs, or at least consistency this season.
The New York…Mets?: The Mets are a team that no one really gave any credit to due to their lack of star players outside of David Wright. As another pitching-led team with 2014 NL Rookie of the Year Jacob DeGrom staying in form and 2013 All-Star Matt Harvey returning to the mound, they’ve proven to be a team worth watching this season.
Players that could be on the move:
Tyler Clippard, P, Oakland Athletics: Clippard is a clutch closer who has an itching to return to the playoffs after coming from the Washington Nationals. Now that he’s in a losing clubhouse, A’s general manager Billy Beane could trade him away in return for younger players to a team like the Chicago Cubs who seem to be having a better run for their division than Oakland.
Johnny Cueto, P, Cincinnati Reds: Cueto has been rumored to be on the trading block for quite some time. Especially given that Cincinatti doesn’t have the money he wants, and he’s refused to discuss anything with management to stay with the Reds. The Detroit Tigers are looking for an ace with pitcher Justin Verlander still licking his wounds, so Cueto could be dealt there for the rest of the year before finding his long-term home during the offseason.
Cy Young Award Prediction:
American League, Felix Hernandez: The 29-year-old who’s been deemed “The King” seems to have that Cy Young firepower in him this year. With only one loss thus far he is on pace to add another great season to his well-decorated resume. After finishing only one game behind the Wild Card last year, the Seattle Mariners are more determined than ever to reach that Wild Card game with Hernandez leading the way.
National League, Max Scherzer: Moving from the NL to the AL in the off-season was thought to be a scary move for Scherzer as he’d have to start hitting, but it has had no effect for him on the mound. Scherzer may not have the lowest ERA but he is leading the MLB in innings pitched which is a testament to his endurance. And with the great run support from Bryce Harper, he could lead the Nats past the first round of the playoffs this year.
My Pick for MVP:
American League, Mike Trout: Regardless of whether the Angels make it to the postseason or not, Trout’s numbers are looking phenomenal. Even 2012 Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper made a statement promoting Trout as the best player in the league. He can hit homers, steal bases and rob players of some heavy hits. He’s just a well-rounded player and among the most exciting to watch.
National League, Andrew McCutchen: McCutchen is a good leader for the Pittsburgh Pirates and is starting to get back on track despite a bad start to the season. This past weekend he hit three homers in four games and help put the Pirates right behind the Cubs in the NL Central. They might not take the division but they could head to the Wild Card again this year and McCutchen would be a huge reason why.
Who wins the World Series?
The Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper got a taste of the playoffs last season and with Scherzer, Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez in the rotation, they will take it this year. The Nats have a lot of depth in every infield position and are ready to take on whatever challenge comes their way.