Amelia Parreira is a journalism senior and Mustang News columnist. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
- Chicago Cubs (26-8)
Some teams have good offense, some play good defense, but the Cubs have the whole package. Anyone who thinks that the Cubs are not the best team in baseball is simply insane.
It looked like the Cubs would lose some significant talent at the beginning of the season with starting left fielder Kyle Schwarber out with an injury. But Schwarber’s injury has seemed to give the rest of the team even more of a reason to raise the bar.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo has already drilled 11 home runs and leads the team with 34 RBIs. Center fielder Dexter Fowler, who leads the team’s starters with a .331 batting average, has smashed 39 hits so far. Other strong hitters include third baseman Kris Bryant and utility player Ben Zobrist among others. Together, they combine for all the power a team can ask for.
Of course, a team can never be truly phenomenal without an impressive pitching rotation. For the Cubs, “impressive” is actually an understatement, especially with an ace like Jake Arrieta. After pitching his first career no-hitter last season, Arrieta did it again against the Cincinnati Reds in late April. He still has yet to put a loss on his season record and currently holds a low ERA of 1.29.
- Chicago White Sox (24-12)
Wouldn’t it be entertaining to have an entire World Series centered around Chicago? Well, with the Cubs and the White Sox both red-hot and in first place in their leagues, this season is on that track.
The Sox have remained mostly out of the spotlight for the past decade, but finally came back when Todd Frazier won the 2015 MLB Home Run Derby. Since then, the White Sox have been making their way into the conversation more and more.
Left-hander Chris Sale earned his eighth win of the season this week and has yet to add a loss to his record. The last time the Sox had a pitcher that good was when they won the World Series in 2005 with Jon Garland’s 18-10 record. Coincidence?
The Sox also have pitcher Jose Quintana, who sports a 5-2 record and a 1.54 ERA without allowing a home run this season. Though a lesser name than Sale, Quintana is definitely someone opponents should look out for.
- Washington Nationals (22-13)
The Nationals have played for 47 seasons and never won a World Series. If they keep playing the way they are right now, they might end that drought this year.
This divisional first-place team is yet another team with both a great defense and offense. Of course, there are those select few that have stolen the show.
Take Max Scherzer, for instance. Scherzer became a free agent after his last season with the Detroit Tigers, but now has certainly found his place in Washington while continuing his record-breaking performance. On May 11 he showed his former team what it has been missing after tossing a 20-strikeout game against the Tigers. Two no-hitters, now this? Let’s see what other great things Scherzer will do this season.
Then there is right fielder Bryce Harper. Even though he has a batting average below .300, he already has 11 home runs to add to his record this season. He hit a two-run homer against the Miami Marlins on May 13, which didn’t come as much of a surprise since the two-time National League MVP winner scored a three-run homer against the same pitcher in 2015.
Now let’s take a look at some of the teams that are taking a hard knock this season.
- Minnesota Twins (8-26)
With a dismal offense, the Twins only have a few players worth mentioning individually. Designated hitter Byung Ho Park leads the team with nine home runs and 15 RBIs, with other players like first baseman Joe Mauer accumulating 24 hits and second baseman Brian Dozier bringing in 16 runs so far.
So what’s the other problem? Well, pitching just can’t seem to make the cut.
Kevin Jepsen is the only pitcher on the team with more than one win, and even starters such as Tyler Duffey (1.85 ERA) can’t manage to pick up a win. Overall, the rotation has given up 328 hits and 45 home runs. It’s hard to imagine how high those numbers are going to get as the season progresses.
Being a small market team, it’s going to be hard to spend any money on good pitchers for next season, but the Twins will have to find a way to shape up if they want to get close to the postseason in the upcoming years.
- Milwaukee Brewers (15-21)
The Brewers have time to show some potential, and started that trend after a 10-5 win in late April against the Minnesota Twins (even though, to be honest, that’s not really impressive since, you know, it was the Twins).
While offense is actually doing well, performance on the mound brings the whole team down.
Taylor Jungmann is one of the worst pitchers they have, currently holding a 0-4 record and a 9.15 ERA. Chase Anderson isn’t much better with a 1-5 record and 6.11 ERA. Wily Peralta has a 7.30 ERA and a 2-4 record. The only starter who gives the team any hope is Jimmy Nelson, who leads with a 3.51 ERA and a 4-3 record. And let’s admit, that’s not really the best it could be.
Left fielder Ryan Braun boasts a 0.367 batting average and first baseman Chris Carter is looking to extend his 11 home runs, but how can the team really make that talent count if pitching remains stagnant?
3. Los Angeles Angels (14-21)
At the beginning of the season, I recall saying that the Angels would come out as one of the top teams of 2016. Now, I regretfully take back that statement.
To be honest, the Angels really could have been successful this season. But with so many crucial players injured, it’s tough to see that happening now. Ace Garrett Richards is one of the main sources of glue that held the team together. However, he will now undergo elbow ligament replacement surgery and is not expected to return to the rotation until 2017 at the earliest.
Now the Angels must turn to pitchers like Jered Weaver, who leads with only three wins on the season so far. Nate Smith has the lowest ERA, at 3.92, of all the currently-healthy Angels starting pitchers, which, again, is really not that low. The Angels’ best bet is to make a couple of trades for better starters, but that isn’t as easy as it sounds.
If pitchers miraculously start to pick up momentum, the Halos could really see improvement. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols currently lead the team with eight home runs each, and other strong hitters include Kole Calhoun, Yunel Escobar, C.J. Cron and Andrelton Simmons.
A solid offense with so much aptitude should not go to waste. Unfortunately for the Angels, it has this year.
Note: The statistics mentioned in this article are updated as of Sunday, May 15.