Vlad Jr. and the Blue Jays Have Not Been As Good As Promised
Look at the current standings, and you will see few surprises at the top of the various divisions. Nearly every baseball publication predicted before Spring Training that the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros would win the West divisions, and that is exactly where those two clubs are now one fourth of the way through the season.
Also as predicted the Milwaukee Brewers rest atop the Central and the New York Mets the East in the National League, leaving just two mild surprises in first place. Because of the storied history and the deep pockets the New York Yankees, no one is shocked that the Bronx Bombers are on top in the A.L. East.
However, the Toronto Blue Jays had been picked by Athlon Sports and most other sources in their Baseball Previews to win the American League East, primarily because of the club's impressive mix of young stars and newly-acquired vets like third baseman Matt Chapman and All-Star starter Jose Berrios. The Jays have fallen short of those lofty expectations, and in fact have been treading the .500 mark all season to find themselves seven games back.
Faring even worse than the Blue Jays in the same division are the Red Sox, who stand ten games back just one spot from the cellar. Rumors swirl around Beantown concerning trades of stars like shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers, indicating that the Boston front office has already written off this season.
A much bigger story can be found in the A.L. Central, where the Chicago White Sox had been assumed to run away with the division title for a second straight year. Instead, the Pale Hose are hovering around .500, looking up at the first place Minnesota Twins, who had been predicted by Athlon Sports to finish in fourth.
Southside fans need not be too worried about the slow start, for the White Sox are in second place. The same cannot be said for a highly hyped team out West, the organization that currently holds the record for longest postseason drought.
Seattle is just 17-26, eleven games behind the Astros and trailing everybody but Oakland. Baseball experts were enamored of the Mariners before the season, based on their impressive improvement last year as well as the additions of several All-Star players.
Another team that has underachieved is in Atlanta, where the defending World Series Champions are also under .500 so far. Even though the face of the franchise Freddie Freeman left for free agency, most writers expected the Braves to make another successful run through the playoffs this year after replacing him with All-Star first baseman Matt Olson.
They are currently trailing the Mets by eight games, and are just a half game from falling into fourth place. Underachieving Philadelphia is also 19-22, tied with the Braves and likewise eight games out.
Key acquisitions like outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos have not improved the standing of the Phillies, who have yet to reach the postseason since signing superstar Bryce Harper and All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Fans of the above teams can take heart in the fact that, back in 2019, the Washington Nationals were twelve games under .500 one fourth of the way into the season. All they did from then on was pass team after team to qualify for the playoffs, on their way to capturing an improbable championship after a seven game World Series.