3 Takeaways from the First Month of the 2019 MLB Season
The Tampa Bay Rays are here to play
The biggest surprise for me so far this season is the Tampa Bay Rays. In my 2019 MLB Season Predictions article, I noted that the Rays could grab a wild card spot if either the Yankees or Red Sox struggled. Well, Boston is struggling and New York is thriving, but Tampa Bay is still in first for the AL East. They have the best pitching in the league, only allowing 88 runs in 28 games (the lowest in the league), with their starting rotation leading the way. Their current rotation of Tyler Glasnow, Charlie Morton, Yonny Chirinos, and Blake Snell have a combined ERA of 2.63, a ridiculous number for this part of the season in the AL East. Glasnow has really stood out, going 5-0 in six starts, only allowing 3 HRs and 7 walks. The relievers have also done a fantastic job, including Ryne Stanek, Diego Castillo, Jose Alvarado, and Kirby Yates (leads the league in saves with 14). The Rays run differential is +47 (1st in the league), have the best away record in the league (10-2), and are 2.5 games ahead of the New York Yankees for first in the AL East. I see them slowing down a little bit, but still will be a great team going into the All-Star break.
Every division is open for change
Currently, each division in the MLB is contested by at least three teams. The possible worst division at the moment is the AL East, mainly due to how poorly the Red Sox have started the season. Every other division is highly contested. The AL West is only separated by five games from first (Houston Astros) to last (Los Angeles Angels). Obviously the rankings will grow larger gaps between teams, but for now at least, let's just enjoy it. No game is not "competitive". All the teams feel that they have a legit shot in making a run and at least challenging for a wild card spot in their respective division. The two divisions I am going to keep an eye this season is the AL West and the NL Central. With the Seattle Mariners stepping up to the occasion this year, the AL West has another level of depth in the title race. The main two contenders are Seattle and Houston, but LA, Oakland, and Texas are not going away. For the NL Central, the St. Louis Cardinals have emerged as favorites. With the Brewers relying on Christian Yelich on offense and inconsistent pitching, they have let off the gas pedal just enough for the Cardinals to jump in. The Cubs are a mess altogether, but having Addison Russell return to the team soon after his 40 game suspension may help the infield.
Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich appearing as favorites for the MVP
No matter how good/bad these two players play out the rest of the season, both should be remembered for having monster Aprils. Bellinger has the best BA in baseball with a staggering .431 entering May. He also leads in RBIs with 37 and WAR with 3.5. He is a massive reason why the LA Dodgers are winning the NL West. Finally, he is tied for the league lead in HRs at 14 with the other MVP candidate Christian Yelich. Yelich has so far not has a sophomore slump in Milwaukee, batting with a .353 BA and 34 RBIs. The biggest thing for Yelich this season has been clutch plays. Time after time he has rose to the occasion and helped lead the Brewers to a win. He has helped Milwaukee stay in contention for the NL Central from the field and the plate. Both of these players can easily make the All-Star weekend in July and have a great chance to win the MVP this season.
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