Understanding the Standings
Two-and-a-half weeks into the season and the standings are pretty much in-line with the consensus viewpoint prior to Opening Day. While this observation is no solace for Red Sox fans, who is all that surprised that the Yankees, Rangers, Phillies, Reds, and Rockies are atop their divisions? Or that the Mariners, Mets, Astros, and Diamondbacks are in the basement?
Among teams in first or last place, only the Red Sox, Indians, and Twins would cause those in the know to scratch their head. As it relates to clubs in the middle of the pack, maybe the Royals are outperforming as much as the Braves are underperforming but there is really very little to quibble about as far as the rest of the W-L records are concerned. Oh, there might be a few fans out there who were hoping that their favorite team got off to a better start, but I don't see how anyone outside Boston or Minnesota could argue for more than one win or perhaps two at this juncture.
With respect to the Red Sox, absent some permanent change in the fundamental outlook, I would simply lower their projected win total for the year by the difference between the actual (5) and expected (9) wins to date. In other words, if 95 wins was a good estimate before the season, then I would be inclined to go with 91 today. Going 86-61 (.585) the rest of the way doesn't seem so unreasonable to me.
Same thing with the Twins. Instead of winning, say, 85 games, perhaps the team ends up with 82 or 83. As for Cleveland, maybe the Indians win 75 to 80 games rather than 70 to 75. I know this is a simplistic way of looking at today's standings — especially without taking into consideration strength of schedules — but I believe it is more rational than making some sweeping conclusions about this team or that team 14 to 17 games into the season.
Will there be surprises this year? Most definitely. No season ever goes according to plan. Injuries, breakouts/breakdowns, and good luck/bad luck all come into play each and every campaign. There is no reason why this year will be different. But don't give up on the Red Sox or Twins, or raise that 2011 AL Central Championship banner in Cleveland quite yet.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST TEAM W L PCT GB Yankees 9 5 .643 - Rays 7 9 .438 3 Blue Jays 7 9 .438 3 Orioles 6 9 .400 3.5 Red Sox 5 10 .333 4.5
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL TEAM W L PCT GB Indians 12 4 .750 - Royals 10 6 .625 2 Tigers 8 9 .471 4.5 White Sox 7 9 .438 5 Twins 6 10 .375 6
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST TEAM W L PCT GB Rangers 11 5 .688 - Angels 10 6 .625 1 A's 8 8 .500 3 Mariners 5 12 .294 6.5
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST TEAM W L PCT GB Phillies 10 5 .667 - Marlins 8 6 .571 1.5 Nationals 8 7 .533 2 Braves 7 10 .412 4 Mets 5 11 .313 5.5
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL TEAM W L PCT GB Reds 9 7 .563 - Pirates 8 8 .500 1 Cardinals 8 8 .500 1 Cubs 8 8 .500 1 Brewers 8 8 .500 1 Astros 5 11 .313 4
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST TEAM W L PCT GB Rockies 12 4 .750 - Giants 9 7 .563 3 Dodgers 8 9 .471 4.5 Padres 7 9 .438 5 Diamondbacks 6 8 .429 5
Back in January, I thought the A's, Brewers, and Rockies were the best bets to exceed their projected win totals. I lowered my expectations for Milwaukee after learning about Zack Greinke's injury but still thought the NL Central would be a wide-open affair with the Reds, Cardinals, Cubs, and Brewers fighting it out for most of the summer. I have little or no reason to change my outlook for the A's or Rockies and wouldn't be totally surprised if one or both ended up in the World Series.