Mid-season MLB Update: Surprises and Disappointments

It’s now the beginning of September, normally a time when teams are only 30 games away from ending a very strenuous 162 game season. Obviously this season has been far from normal, but there’s still been surprises and disappointments across the league. In this blog I wanted to highlight some of the teams, players, and rules which have been surprises and disappointments during this first month of 2020 baseball. 

Surprises

Toronto Blue Jays

The team has made a comfortable transition from Toronto to Buffalo for the 2020 season and their on field product has been very good as well. The team is currently 18-15 and sits in a playoff spot, in the always competitive A.L East. Look for them to be a dark horse in the playoffs this fall. 

(Picture Credit: Toronto Sun)

Cleveland Indians and Shane Bieber

Cleveland wasn’t supposed to be bad this year, but I was predicting them to regress more than they would improve. With that being said the Indians are currently second in a very strong A.L Central division, at 21-14. Their pitching has been their main point of success, especially Shane Bieber (who I picked to win the Cy Young in the preseason blog), who currently sports a 1.20 ERA with 84 strikeouts in just 52.2 innings. 

(Picture Credit: Orange County Register)

Chicago White Sox 

I was high on the White Sox before the season, and they have not disappointed.They control sole position of the A.L Central and have been a very fun team to watch. They have the third best record in the A.L at 22-13 and I would expect them to be a very tough matchup for anyone in the playoffs. 

 (Picture Credit: USA Today Sportsbook Wire)

Miami Marlins

Now I wouldn’t say that the Marlins have been great, but given the circumstances, they’ve been rather impressive. The team had a plethora of positive Covid tests during the first two weeks of the season and had to battle just to get a complete team on the field. The team currently sits at 15-15, which if the season ended today would be good enough to get them into the playoffs. 

(Picture Credit: USA Today) 

San Diego Padres and Fernando Tatis Jr.

The most exciting team and player in baseball so far have been the San Diego Padres and Fernando Tatis Jr. With a record of 22-15 they are currently behind the Dodgers in the divisional standings, but over the last few weeks they have been one of the best teams in the league. Tatis is electric, and so is the rest of the team, and I’ll definitely be pulling for them come playoff time. 

(Picture Credit: SBNation.com)

Extra Inning Baseball 

I was very sceptical about having a runner start on second in extra innings, but it has been a very exciting rule change that has made extra inning games can’t miss TV this season. I don’t think it’s a good long term solution but it’s been fun to watch this year. 

Teoscar Hernandez

One of the reasons why the Blue Jays have gotten off to such a hot start is because of Teoscar Hernandez. He sports a good mix of power and speed with 12 home runs and 5 stolen bases while also being 4th in the A.L in OPS (.985). He has been one of the best players in the MLB thus far. 

(Picture Credit: Jays Journal)

Luke Voit 

Arguably the best hitter in the A.L thus far has been Luke Voit. The often used leadoff hitter for the Yankees has the second best OPS in the MLB (1.062) and has been crushing the ball with his MLB leading 13 home runs. The Yankees lineup has been struggling but Voit has not been one of the problems. 

(Picture Credit: Springfield News)

Jesse Winker

Another team who has really underperformed this season is the Cincinnati Reds but Jesse Winker has been a huge bright spot for this squad. He has the second highest OPS in the entire MLB (1.117) while also having 10 home runs and 6 doubles.  

(Yahoo! Sports)

Brandon Lowe

One of the biggest breakout players this year has been Brandon Lowe of the Tampa Bay Rays, who has slowly cemented his place in the A.L MVP race. He ranks within the top five in the A.L in OPS (.983) and has slugged 10 home runs and driven in 27 runners. Lowe has quietly been one of Tampa Bay’s best players. 

(Picture Credit: ESPN)

Mike Yastrzemski

After over 700 games in the minor leagues, Jr. Yaz has finally carved a great role in the MLB as one of the premier players on the Giants. His OPS is on the cusp of 1.000 (.967) which puts him 19th in the MLB in OPS, along with his 7 home runs and premier defensive skills.

(Picture Credit NBC Sports) 

Disappointments

Los Angeles Angels

Signing the biggest free agent hitter on the market and gaining back the 2018 rookie of the year was supposed to help Los Angeles, but it has been a year of disappointment for the club. The team has been in a lot of close games, but have not been able to edge many of them out. With a record of 12-23, they sit in last place in the A.L, but a little extra pitching would definitely help them out.

(Picture Credit: Halo Hangout)

Arizona Diamondbacks  

One team that I expected to take a jump to the next step this year was the Arizona Diamondbacks, but they have done just the opposite. Currently they sit at 14-21 and are 1-9 in their last 10 games. The pitching staff ranks 26th in the league in team ERA (5.17) and the hitters are 22nd in the league in runs scored (148).

(Picture Credit: Arizona Sports) 

Washington Nationals 

The reigning World Series champions lost one of their top 2 hitters in Anthony Rendon this offseason and also had longtime verteran Ryan Zimmerman opt out of the season. These two losses were certainly going to be tough for the team but the Nationals have still been playing way below expectations. They have the second worst record in the N.L at 12-20 and have had to deal with a major injury with Stephen Strausburg. The team is most likely going to miss the playoffs, a disappointing followup after a strong 2019 season. 

(Picture Credit: DC Sports)

New York Mets

The Mets were one of my picks to be a dark horse in the N.L this year, but the team apparently didn’t agree with me. Many of their hitters have struggled to pick up any steam and they’re a few games out of a playoff spot with a record of 15-20. There’s still time for the team to turn it around during the second half, but losing Marcus Stroman and Yoenis Cespedes to opt out really set this team off on the wrong foot. 

(Picture Credit: Amazin' Avenue)

Boston Red Sox 

It’s been a tough 12 months for Red Sox fans and this season has been an embodiment of that time. Boston currently has the second worst record in the A.L at 12-22, but many of the losses have been complete blowouts. The pitching staff ranks dead last in team ERA (6.04), despite the hitting not being completely horrible. This will definitely be a rebuilding year or two for the team, but they still have performed well below their already low expectations. 

(Picture Credit: Over the Monster)

Double Headers 

Two games, 7 innings each. To put it bluntly they don’t feel like real baseball games, that is all. 

Javier Baez

I’ve always been a believer that Javier Baez was a little bit overrated, but his 2020 season has still been way below what I would expect from him. He currently sports a .617 OPS which puts him in 145th out of 154 qualified players. He’s also only hitting .202 in 124 at bats and has only stolen one base. Thankfully for fans the Cubs have still had a very strong start despite his struggles. 

(Picture Credit: Forbes)

Jose Altuve

I’m not going to say Jose Altuve isn’t doing well this year because the Astros got caught cheating because I believe he is a very skilled player, but the correlation between the two is definitely eye catching. Out of 154 players who have played enough games to qualify for OPS, Altuve ranks 149 (.592). Pair that with a lack of power (3 HR) and speed (2 SB) and it’s been a pretty bad year for Altuve. 

(Picture Credit: PaperCity Magazine)

Marcus Semien

Semien finished last season 3rd in A.L MVP voting, but he has been nowhere close to that level of play this year. His hitting has been far below average at a .229 average with only 5 home runs and a .663 OPS.

(Picture Credit: NBC Sports) 

Eugenio Suarez 

This was one guy who I picked to be an N.L MVP finalist this year, but he’s been far from that. He’s currently only hitting .183 and although his power hasn’t been horrible, his OPS is still in the bottom quarter of the league. 

(Picture Credit: Blog Red Machiene)

Shohei Ohtani

Ohtani missed the majority of the 2019 season, but 2020 has been just as bad for him. He’s only pitched 1.2 innings but he’s given 7 runs which equates to a 37.80 ERA. His batting also has been very disappointing as he’s only hitting .189 with a .670 OPS in 106 at bats.

(Picture Credit: Los Angeles Times)

- Andrew Gardner, UNH '23 

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