Looking at the standings right now (8-10 games into the season) is a complete waste of time. However, it's impossible not to notice some of the teams that have gotten off to suprisingly good starts this season. How have they done it? And more importantly, are they for real?
Toronto Blue Jays (7-3):
Why: Offense. Offense. Offense. As a team, the Blue Jays lead the American League in team batting average (an amazing .313), total bases, hits, doubles, and they are tied for first in the AL in home runs with 17. Scott Rolen, Vernon Wells, Adam Lind, and Scott Rolen have all gotten off to amazing starts at the plate that have jump started the offense.
For Real?: I say no. The Blue Jays are playing in the best division in the major leagues and eventually, their lack of starting pitching depth will haunt them once the offense cools down.
Seattle Mariners (7-2):
Why: Pitching. Pitching. Pitching. Through the first 8 games, the Mariners pitching staff is leading the AL in ERA (2.96), runs given up (22), and shutouts (2). The rotation, led by Felix Hernandez, Jarrod Washburn, and the resurgent Erik Bedard, has been fantastic. And hey, even Carlos Silva has not been totally terrible...only a 6 ERA!
For Real?: I say no, but the Mariners have looked very good thus far. If the pitching staff holds up, the Mariners could surprise some people and actually compete in the AL West, especially if the Angels pitching staff cannot get healthy. However, the Mariners offense leaves much to be desired, even with Ichiro Suzuki returning last night. This offense still cannot get on base consistently, hit with lots of power, or produce a high enough batting average to adequately supplement the pitching staff.
Florida Marlins (7-1):
Why: Over the first 8 games of the season, the Marlins have gotten a wonderful mix of quality starting pitching and fantastic offense. Their pitching staff ranks 4th in the National League with a 3.25 ERA and the Marlins offense has been downright scary. Emilio Bonifacio looks like the second coming of Jose Reyes (can he keep it up???). And Hanley Ramirez has developed into a lethal #3 hitter. (Side note: Josh Johnson=beast)
For Real?: I say yes. Sure the Marlins have some weaknesses namely in the bullpen and with the defense, but this team is too talented not to make some noise. In the end, the Marlins might not have the intangibles needed to make the playoffs, but they sure as hell can scare the living crap out of the Mets and Phillies. If the Marlins can improve their bullpen and defense, then watch out. This club is dangerous.
San Diego Padres (6-3):
Why: Pitching. Pitching. And more pitching. The Padres pitching staff, led by Jake Peavy, Chris Young, and Heath Bell, has been fantastic so far as they rank third in the National League in ERA (3.15 ERA). If the Padres pitching staff can keep up this kind of production, especailly at PETCO Park, then the Padres will be better than expected.
For Real?: Hell no. The Padres offense is one of the worse in all of baseball and it doesn't help that the Padres play in one of the most pitcher friendly ballparks in all of baseball. Even with the incredible Adrian Gonzalez, the Padres simply do not have enough offensive depth to come anywhere close to competing.
Like my picks? Think I'm crazy? Make your voice heard...in the comments!