Here in the new season, 12 days of baseball have passed. The 2018 season is still very young, but several teams have shown significant surprises and concerns early on. Like any other season in any other sport, there are those who remain hot throughout the season. There are also those that start slow, but later pick up steam and momentum. Unfortunately, there will be teams that fail to find many winning formulas and find themselves at the bottom of their division.
All 30 teams have only started to make their marks. With what each franchise has accomplished until now, could this foreshadow what awaits in games to come? Not entirely. Though we have seen comebacks and cold streaks in the past, not everyone gets to play in October.
Let’s now take a look at how both the American and National Leagues look in 2018 up to this point.
12 Days of Baseball: American League
The Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros are boasting the two best records in the American League. For Boston, first-year manager Alex Cora has constantly found winning formulas, especially on the road. The Red Sox have taken the lead of the East Division early by two games. The Astros, on the other hand, have kept the engine running hot like last season in the AL West. With a roster full of household names, Houston’s chemistry has proven why many favor them to return to the World Series.
If these two continue their hot streaks, expect Boston and Houston to meet again in the playoffs.
Returning to the AL East, the Tampa Bay Rays are not nearly as fortunate in their 2018 campaign. As a unit, the Rays are fighting cold streaks at the plate and on the mound. Starting the season at 2-8, manager Kevin Cash and company will have significant ground to cover. The Rays have not seen playoff action since 2013.
As for the AL Central, there is not exactly a clear standout yet. The Minnesota Twins lead the pack by only one game and have started the new season at 4-3. So far, their pitching staff is starting off strong. But Minnesota will need to start firing off at the plate if they want to take the division. With the Cleveland Indians in the same division, the fight ahead will only get tougher for the Twins from here on out.
12 Days of Baseball: National League
In the NL East Division, the New York Mets have jumped to the top. Their pitching staff has been relentless, leading the National League in ERA. But with the Atlanta Braves catching fire, the Mets must keep at it.
In the NL West, the Arizona Diamondbacks have also started their 2018 season on a high note. Though their batting is solid, it is their defense and pitching that is keeping the ride going.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, on the other hand, are off to an uncharacteristically slow start. The reigning NL champs have struggled at the plate, ranking 29th in the MLB in team batting average. The Dodgers’ pitching rotation remains ruthless, but they have received very little run support in these first few games. They started with losses to San Francisco twice by a score of 1-0.
Staying in the NL West, the Colorado Rockies are among the teams hanging in there at the .500 mark. The Rockies’ fielding defense is among the best in the MLB. But Colorado will need to make improvements on the mound and at the plate if they want to get back in the playoffs.
Now in the NL Central, The Chicago Cubs stand at 5-4. The Cubs’ pitching rotation is among the best in baseball right now. But their offense needs to step up to take back the Central Division from Pittsburgh.
The Cubs should not panic at all right now. Manager Joe Maddon has consistently found a way to kick it into high gear and take over the NL Central, even from lukewarm starts. Seeing that the Cubs have found themselves in the NLCS in each of the last three seasons, don’t count them out just yet.
With plenty of baseball in store, momentum built now can translate to success for each team in the weeks ahead. Whatever the future may hold, these first 12 days of baseball have taught valuable lessons to each of the 30 franchises; “Do not panic.” “Weather the storm.” “Keep the motor running hot.”
As the 2018 season thunders onward, all of the right moves will need to be made to taste the October glory.
Featured image from USA Today Sports
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