The first three weeks of the MLB season have gone by in the blink of an eye. The Angels and Red Sox have started out on fire and have established themselves as the two best teams in the American League up to this point. Despite this, it is too early to make assumptions about every overachieving team. Although every team believes they have a shot during early April, only these teams will remain standing:
Sure Thing: Astros
The Astros have looked like the defending World Series Champions should. Justin Verlander has cloned his MVP and CY Young self ever since he has joined the Astros. During his first 26.2 innings of the season, Verlander has only allowed 15 hits and has struck out 34. With Verlander and the offense the Astros have, they have a realistic shot at having both the AL MVP and CY Young award winner this year. Any combination of Justin Verlander, lefty Dallas Keuchel and current AL strikeout leader Gerrit Cole could take the CY Young, while star Carlos Correa, reigning MVP Jose Altuve or reigning World Series MVP George Springer could easily take the MVP. Out of every MLB team, the Astros still look to be in the best position.
Expect Success: Red Sox
The Red Sox are 15-2. That is not a typo. The Sox have multiple areas that have been firing on all cylinders for them. Led by leadoff man and best player Mookie Betts the Sox offense has shown no signs of the poor unit that showed up last year. In 54 at-bats, Betts is hitting .389 with 5 home runs and 13 RBIs out of the leadoff spot. Xander Bogaerts was hitting .368 and leading the league in extra base hits before his injury. J.D. Martinez provides a legit power threat in the middle of the lineup and protection for Hanley Ramirez who is hitting .327 with 15 RBIs. The Sox defense has been top notch early in the season as they went over a week and a half without making an error. Chris Sale has looked like Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello have been solid and after a shaky start, the bullpen is starting to get things together. There is a strong possibility that another Red Sox vs Astros playoff series is already in the making.
Watch Out: Athletics
The A’s are 8-10 and not on anyone’s playoff radar early in the season. That is a big mistake. The A’s roster is full of rising stars and veteran leaders. The signing of Jonathon Lucroy was the most underrated signing of the offseason. Through the first 18 games, Lucroy is hitting .280 but more importantly is anchoring a young pitching staff with a lot of potential. He is on a one year contract so if he plays well and the A’s are not in contention they can trade him for future assets. If the A’s surprise everyone and play well, Lucroy will be a huge piece for them this year. Matt Chapman is a star in the making. He will be one of the best third baseman and a known name by the end of the year. The pitching will be the key for Oakland. After trading away ace Sony Gray last summer the A’s don’t have a true ace. If the young pitchers can develop with the help of Lucroy look for Oakland to snatch the AL’s second wild-card spot.