We were right until we were wrong. Only, it turns out, we were right all along. Got that? We tell ourselves the same thing every season: Don’t overreact. Seasons are long, weaknesses are exposed, strengths revealed.
We do it anyway because after five months without baseball we devour every pitch, fret over every mistake, etc. Yes, one or two of you overreacted a tad when your favorite team got off to a slow start even if it was very, very early.
You wanted managers fired, players dumped and apologies issued. That was around the time the Red Sox were 6-13. Or maybe it happened when the Cubs were 1-6.
At one point, Cubs manager Joe Maddon attempted to calm the waters with these words: “Nothing has happened!”
Funny he would choose those words because Astros manager AJ Hinch said precisely the same thing when his team returned home from a season-opening 2-5 road trip.
“Nothing has happened!”
Even the Yankees, for all their resilience, started this season 6-9. And the Dodgers! At one point, they were a nearly unforgivable 8-8, and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman was reminded that he’d blown the entire offseason by not signing Bryce Harper.
Anyway, that was then. While we love that the Twins, Rays, D-backs, Pirates and Padres have gotten off to fast starts, we’ve also noticed that the five teams widely predicted to be baseball’s best are playing pretty much the way we thought they’d play.
Let’s take a look:
1. Cubs -- 20-5 since April 15
All of a sudden, it all clicked for the Cubs. Jon Lester has led a rotation that could be baseball’s best. Relievers Steve Cishek, Brad Brach and Brandon Kintzler have been excellent. Shortstop Javier Baez is a serious National League MVP candidate. And Maddon, that man thought to be on the hot seat, has done some of his best work in continuing to craft a Hall of Fame resume.
2. Red Sox -- 11-3 since April 29
The Red Sox told us they were going to take a go-slow approach to this season after pushing their pitchers hard in the postseason. Only they never imagined it would take 39 games to clear .500. Along the way, doubts crept in as Chris Sale, Mookie Betts and others struggled. If there was ever any real worry, that has vanished.
3. Yankees -- 18-7 since April 16
Long before the Yankees were the most remarkable story of 2019, their fans had plenty of reason to worry as one player after another was injured. That was before Luke Voit, Gio Urshela and Domingo German became rock stars, before Tommy Kahnle emerged as one of baseball’s best relievers and before Aaron Boone earned his managerial chops.
4. Astros -- 26-10 since April 5
OK, they did lose three of four on the road vs. Tampa Bay and two of three in Arlington. For a team with no real weakness, that was at least a cause for concern, right? Since then, they’ve been just what they were supposed to be. George Springer is a serious American League MVP candidate, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole could finish first and second in AL Cy Young voting and the Astros have the largest division lead.
5. Dodgers -- 20-8 since April 14
When you’ve finished first six straight seasons and are looking for a third straight World Series appearance, the bar is set high. So even an 8-8 start was cause for concern. One month later, Cody Bellinger is the leading candidate to be NL MVP, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu has been phenomenal and the Dodgers appear headed for another NL West title even with the Padres, Rockies and D-backs all appearing to be capable of grabbing playoff berths.