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PostHeaderIcon The All Star Fantasy Baseball Team You Could Have Drafted in 2017

Every year at the All Star Break there are players who have outperformed expectations. But has that ever been more true than it has been in 2017? Has there ever been a year before when a player who didn’t even get drafted in the first 20 rounds of most leagues may now be the number one player in all of fantasy baseball? Has there ever been another season when so many players were so far exceeding expectations? Not in recent memory.

Let’s just look at first base for example. Look at how many players are having tremendous seasons who were either not drafted or were drafted very late–players like Mark Reynolds, Justin Bour, Yonder Alonzo, Logan Morrison, Cody Bellinger, Justin Smoak, and Ryan Zimmerman. Those are 8 first basemen who are all outperforming early-round picks like Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis, Carlos Santana, Hanley Ramirez, Eric Hosmer, and many others. There has never been another season in my memory with this many late-round surprises.

If you had only known, here is a team of 2017 All Stars you could have drafted on Opening Day. Each player is listed with his preseason Average Draft Position (ADP) just to drive home the point of how long each of them was available during your league draft:

C: Salvador Perez (151)
C: Yadier Molina (188)
1B: Ryan Zimmerman (352)
1B: Cody Bellinger (402)
2B: Jonathan Schoop (175)
2B: Josh Harrison (303)
3B: Jake Lamb (154)
3B: Mike Moustakas (213)
SS: Elvis Andrus (152)
SS: Zack Cozart (319)
OF: Marcell Ozuna (164)
OF: Aaron Judge (262)
OF: Cory Dickerson (310)
OF: Michael Conforto (312)
OF: Avisail Garcia (443)
SP: Dallas Keuchel (127)
SP: Mike Fulmer (129)
SP: Robbie Ray (197)
SP: Ervin Santana (281)
SP: Luis Severino (365)
SP: Alex Wood (378)
SP: Jason Vargas (500+)
RP: Greg Holland (226)
RP: Brandon Kintzler (256)
RP: Corey Knebel (434)

Every one of these 25 players listed above is a 2017 All Star (Andrus is a reserve), yet you could have EASILY drafted them all. In a typical 12-team league, on average, none of these All Stars was drafted in the first 10 rounds, many of them including Aaron Judge weren’t drafted in the first 20 rounds, and still others besides that weren’t drafted at all!

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many non All Stars who could also be included in this list of top performers as well. Numerous players like Erick Thames (209), Gio Gonzalez (287), Domingo Santana (288), Chris Ownings (327), Travis Shaw (354), Cameron Maybin (357), Steven Souza (397), Andrelton Simmons (413), Scott Schebler (431), and Jimmy Nelson (500+) are all putting up numbers that are far surpassing the preseason forecasts. How many of these bargains were you smart enough to snap up?

I know every year in every league there are always sleepers who emerge. But to this degree??? No sir, not that I can ever recall. When you can draft an entire championship fantasy baseball team, without utilizing a single player who was taken in the first 10 rounds of your league draft, that’s crazy. And that’s the 2017 season.

PostHeaderIcon A Piston Fan Speaks Out About the Impending Doom of the NBA

When Lebron James went to the Miami Heat to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosch it changed the NBA forever. While I don’t necessarily believe that Lebron is responsible for this ruination of the NBA, I do believe that the situation of stars coming together to create super teams is an enormous problem in the NBA that could ultimately lead to it’s demise.

In hockey, I go into every season feeling like the Red Wings have a chance.  In baseball, I go into every season feeling like the Tigers have a chance.  Even in football, I go into every season feeling like the Lions have a chance, even though they haven’t won a title since 1957.  But in basketball, I KNOW the Pistons have no chance.  And realistically, fans of 26 of the 30 NBA teams should feel the same way.  Any basketball analyst worth his salt knew that Cleveland and Golden State would meet in the NBA Finals right from day one!

Sure there have been dynasties in other sports.  For example in the NFL, in the 1960’s there were the Packers.  In the 70’s there were the Steelers.  In the 80’s there were the 49ers.  Etc.   But these dynasties were different than the super teams of the NBA.  One big difference was that those teams evolved naturally.  They weren’t manufactured by players who had a desire to create super teams.  But more than that, fans could look at those NFL dynasties and reasonably believe that one day their team could be a team just like that too.  As a Piston fan do I believe that one day Lebron and KD and a bunch of super stars are all going to decide to join forces here in Detroit?  It’s not going to happen.  With players being permitted to join forces to create super teams, I believe three-quarters of the teams in the NBA have no chance to win a title in my lifetime.  And eventually that feeling of hopelessness among the majority of NBA fans will destroy the league.

Right now, the NBA offers the least parity of any of the four major sports.  Two years ago Golden State set a record for the most wins in a regular season.  To that team they added former MVP Kevin Durant and went through four rounds of the Playoffs with only one loss.  In the Eastern Conference, Cleveland made it all the way to the Finals with only one loss.  How could anyone who doesn’t live in either Golden State or Cleveland think this is good for basketball?

The difference between basketball and the other major sports is that in basketball, just two or three great players joining forces can create a dominate team.  For example, if in baseball you put Kershaw and Trout on the same team, you wouldn’t suddenly have a team that no one could beat.  But in basketball, if you pair Lebron James with Dwayne Wade, suddenly you have a team that makes it all the way to the NBA Finals.  Since Lebron went to Miami and began choosing who he wanted to play with, he has been in the NBA Finals six straight years.  On the other side, Golden State has been there three straight years and is likely to get there at least three more years.

How is creating these super teams good?  How is creating a league where 90% of fan bases know their teams has no chance to win a championship good?  And for a team like the Pistons, the hopelessness is not only for this season, but it is indefinite.  How many years of high draft picks have the Minnesota Timberwolves had without ever even making the playoffs?  In the NFL a team can go from worst to first in one year.  Same with hockey.  Same with baseball.  But in the NBA does anyone honestly believe that teams like the Suns, the Kings, the Hornets, and the Nuggets are going to win a championship in the next decade?  And I could list another dozen NBA teams with the same bleak outlook.

For anyone who still thinks this current system is good, consider the following.  When Lebron James’ contract is up, he should join the Warriors too.  Why not?   Last year when Durant lost in the Playoffs to Golden State in seven games, he decided to jump ship. When Lebron gets tired of losing in the Finals for the next couple years, why shouldn’t he just go ahead and join the Warriors too so the he can win more titles?   Maybe they could go 82-0 and win every game in the NBA Finals by 25 points. Wouldn’t that be great? 

PostHeaderIcon Cornball Fantasy Baseball

I should have known my fantasy baseball team was in trouble right from the start. When it comes to drafting pitchers, there just doesn’t seem to be any SCHERZER things anymore. For that MOTTER, when it comes to drafting hitters, there are no safe BETTS either. I thought I was being smart when I picked COTTON, but I MAYBIN mistaken about his WERTH. I could have been more prudent about drafting hitters, if only I didn’t miss JUDGE. Then, with my late round picks, I went down the WONG STREET.

Once the season started, things got worse. My pitching staff was a bunch of SKAGGS. I kept waiting for Gerrit COLE to get hot. Taijuan WALKER was having trouble with his control. Zach BRITTON and Derek HOLLAND were having trouble with their location. Brandon BELT wasn’t hitting. Rougned ODOR was really starting to stink–even adding COLON didn’t help. I would have dropped him, but I didn’t want to PANIK. My shortstops weren’t hitting either, but that’s a whole other STORY. Then, just when I thought my team was starting to CRUZ and everything was going to be AOKI, injuries started taking their TOLES.

As much as I have tried to be a WHEELER dealer, all the moves I made seemed to DOOLITTLE to help.  First I had Matt Joyce on my team. Then I dropped him. Then I wanted him back again, so I could reJOYCE. Next, I waived HAND and put my faith in Zach GODLEY. Then I added Ian Happ because I was tired of my team’s hitting being so HAPPless. I found a team that was having a FIERS SALE, so I was able to acquire Mike Fiers along with Justin Smoak in a trade. Of course, they both came to my team together because where there’s SMOAK there’s FIERS.

With my team still in desperate need of repair, I tried to acquire either Chris TAYLOR or Matt CARPENTER. I offered David Price around to try to get some bullpen help, but the asking PRICE was too much. Owners kept wanting MOORE. Maybe I need to add Greg HOLLAND since I already have WOOD ‘n SHOEMAKER. One owner wanted me to trade him FLOWERS and HEDGES for BUSH, but I didn’t make the deal until he offered to throw in GARDNER as well.  That man can rake.  

OSUNA or HADER (Sooner or later), things have to improve. Last week I added Tom Murphy at catcher and Vernon Law at pitcher. Of course, MURPHY/LAW, that’s not working out either.

PostHeaderIcon 2017 MLB Predictions

We are 10 games into the 2017 season.  It’s time for my postseason predictions.  And trust me, waiting until 10 games have been played doesn’t give me much of an advantage.  So here goes:

For the AL:  Red Sox, Indians, Astros.  Wildcard:  Mariners and Rangers.

For the NL: Nationals, Cubs, Dodgers.  Wildcard: Mets and Diamondbacks.

PostHeaderIcon 2017 March Madness Survival Pool

In 2017 BoxScore Baseball ran its first ever Survival Pool for the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  With so many upsets, I began to ponder the following question:  was it even possible to survive all the way to the end this year without choosing at least one upset?

Day One was simple since nearly all of the mid-tier favorites won.  190 out of the 197 members of the pool advanced.  Basically any of the most popular picks in Day One like West Virginia, Butler, Purdue, Notre Dame, and Arizona were all fine picks since all of them won and none of them advanced to the Final Four except Gonzaga who was only chosen by 11 entries.

Day Two was a little bit more problematic.  That’s because Oregon was the second most popular pick and they ended up in the Final Four.  You also would have needed to thread of very thin needle the rest of the way if you used Baylor, the second most common pick of Day Two.  And finally, you needed to avoid another popular choice, SMU as they ended up getting upset by USC.  But many other popular picks such as UCLA, Wichita State. Louisville, Cincinnati, Rhode Island, Michigan and others were all fine favorites to choose.  Heck, as it turned out, you even could have chosen Duke or Villanova who both went out the very next round.

Day 3 the most popular pick of Florida State went down in flames, but plenty of other decent favorites like Butler, Arizona, and Purdue all turned out to be viable options.

Day 4 the most popular pick of Baylor was a good favorite to pick.  Again Oregon needed to be saved for later.  UCLA was another favorite that would have worked.  Those were the only common pick favorites you could have chosen and still made it to the end.

Day 5 the favorite to take was Kansas over Purdue if you wanted to survive all the way to the end without choosing an underdog.  Kentucky was a borderline favorite you could have chosen, as their game against UCLA was pretty much considered a toss-up game.

Day 6 the favorite you would have needed to choose was Florida.  They were slight favorites over Wisconsin and beat them in overtime at the buzzer.

Day 7 & 8 the only way to make it to day 9 without choosing an upset was to choose Gonzaga over Xavier and North Carolina over Kentucky.  Oregon and South Carolina were both underdogs.

Yes, you narrowly could have gotten to Day 9 without ever choosing an upset and you still would have had an additional team to use for Day 10, however, your streak of picking favorites would need to come to an end.  You would be forced to choose an underdog in Day 9, either Oregon or South Carolina.  And then both of them would need to win for you to have a team you could play in Day 10.  So as I analyze it, there would be no conceivable way to have made it all the way do Day 10 without picking at least one upset.

As for the two actual entrants who lasted until the Final Four, they both have just one team left.  Neither of them can advance beyond Day 9.  One of them has North Carolina left and one of them has Gonzaga left.  To reach this point, Double Plz – 2 road favorites all the way to Day 8 when they won with South Carolina over Florida.  Randy & Terrel also chose the South Carolina upset in Day 8, but more than that they also chose the enormous upset of Xavier over Arizona on Day 5.

PostHeaderIcon Tiger Poem From 1961–Still Applies

Tiger, Tiger burning bright
In the ballparks of the night.
Your pitching’s fair, your field adroit
So why no pennants for Detroit?
You start out brave with each new year
With stalwart hearts that know no fear.
Then from on high, while sitting pretty
You blow four games to Kansas City.
The Cleveland Indians go to work
They beat you good; so does New York
When Boston adds a mortal blow
All you can shout is “Look out below.”
Amid the heated pennant race
You fight to cling to seventh place.
Tiger, Tiger burning bright
In the ballparks of the night
Someday the fans will get their fill
And ship the team to Louisville.

PostHeaderIcon BoxScore Baseball Timeline

1990   First year in operation:  Prior to smartphones or even a worldwide web, owners who participated in BoxScore Baseball back in the early years reported their transactions over the telephone, tracked their team’s progress in the morning newspaper, and waited for their biweekly standings to arrive via the U.S. Mail.

1995    Ultimate Leagues:  New dynasty leagues gave owners the opportunity to manage their teams year round.

1995   BoxScore Baseball Playoff Tournament:  We ran the BoxScore Baseball Playoff Tournament during the MLB Playoffs and World Series until 2007 when we lost access to any downloadable postseason statistics.

1996   Reserve playerPrior to 1996 rosters consisted solely of 25 active players.  If a player became injured, owners had either to drop him or keep him active and receive all zeroes.

1996-97   BoxScore Basketball:  During the 1996-97 NBA season, we introduced BoxScore Basketball.  The contest never really caught on in popularity and was cancelled after just two seasons.

1998   Megabucks Leagues:  There began to be a growing desire among some owners to compete for larger cash prizes, and so Megabucks Leagues were introduced.

1999   boxscorebaseball.com:  Nowadays, with Internet being such an integral part of our fantasy baseball lives, it’s hard to believe that BoxScore Baseball was around for 9 years before it even had a homepage.

2000   Survival Game Football:  Survival Game Football was modeled after a survivor contest I used to compete in with friends during the 1980’s.

2000   Ultimate Nation:  It started to become apparent that the top Ultimate League teams had a decided advantage over non-Ultimate League teams, and so the two groups were separated for National prizes.

2002   Super Megabucks Invitational Leagues:  Requests for a big money, high roller league lead to the formation of the Super Megabucks Leagues for BoxScore Baseball’s most elite owners.

2003   OPS:   Slugging percentage was replaced by OPS as BoxScore Baseball’s sixth hitting category.

2003   BoxScore Football:  Due to the increased popularity of fantasy football, BoxScore Football Megabucks Leagues were established.

2006   September Call-Ups:  BoxScore Baseball began to allow late-season roster expansion.

2007   TQStats:  We began utilizing this online service to host our leagues. This change was an enormous upgrade for our members.  In 2009, TQStats became OnRoto, our current league host.

2008   Trading Panel:  A five-person panel was established to rule on fairness of all controversial trades.

2010   Survival Game Baseball:  A survivor contest for baseball that has steadily grown in popularity.

2012   Hall of Fame:  We established the BoxScore Baseball Hall of Fame with its original 13 inductees.  The total membership now stands at 17.

2013   Bizzaro Baseball:  BoxScore Baseball created a league where good was bad and bad was good.  Where up was down and down was up.  Under this format, Colorado pitchers were in high demand and Adam Dunn was an MVP candidate.  But after a 2-year trial run, we gave up this concept which now sits in waiting, hoping for an eventual rebirth.

2014   Daily DL Moves:  Disabled List transactions began taking effect on a daily basis.

2014   NFLGoddess Survival Game Football:  Survival Game Football merged with the NFLGoddess Suicide Pool and established a survivor football contest with annual prizes in excess of $100,000.

2015   Auction Style Draft:  BoxScore Baseball conducted its first-ever online auction draft.

2017   LIVE Vegas Draft!   The commissioner and 12 long-time owners met in Las Vegas for a LIVE Super Megabucks League draft.  For many, this weekend gathering was the first chance to meet each other in person after knowing one another exclusively by phone and email for as long as 20+ years.

PostHeaderIcon BoxScore Baseball Fun Facts

First Computer: In 1989, I purchased my first computer for BoxScore Baseball. After careful deliberation, I decided to buy a computer with no hard drive inside of it because I determined that a hard drive would be an unnecessary frill.

The first MLB player ever drafted in a BoxScore Baseball draft: As unlikely as it may seem, the very first player ever drafted in a BoxScore Baseball draft was Todd Zeile taken by Andy Bylski in 1990. Originally, we used to draft by position—catchers, then first basemen, then second basemen, etc. Back then, Zeile was a very highly regarded Cardinal 3b prospect who had eligibility at catcher.

The Sporting News Fantasy Challenge: In 1993, your humble commissioner parlayed his experience with fantasy baseball into a National Championship in The Sporting News Mid-Season Baseball Challenge. Actually, I had two entries in the contest and managed to finish in first and second place nationally to earn $17,460.

BoxScore Baseball Software: A new software program to generate our biweekly reports was first created in 1994. Each time that update ran, it took 12 hours to complete. And at the end of that process if there was an error, it was 12 more hours to run it again. Today, those same reports can be generated almost instantaneously while the games are still in progress.

Ginger Lee: In 1999 BoxScore Baseball hired a professional model for its print ads for baseball and Survival Game Football

Strongest BoxScore Baseball League Ever: While admittedly highly subjective, the original Ultimate League 3 from 1998 included 12 owners who eventually combined to win a staggering 110 league pennants and 15 National Championships. The league included 5 future Hall of Fame owners. Also a member was Charlie “The Godfather” Wiegert (who later became the founder of CDM Fantasy Sports).

Most Dominate BoxScore Baseball Single Season: In 2011, Les Travis won six pennants in one season. He won UL1, UL3, the Eddie Mathews League, the Al Kaline League, and both Super Megabucks Leagues. Les earned a record $6,715.

Most Dominate BoxScore Football Single Season: Rick Garlinghouse became the only owner in BoxScore Football history to win the championship in both BoxScore Football Leagues in the same season when he did so in 2015.

Most Consecutive National Championships Won: This untouchable record is held by Todd Lammi who won six straight National Championships between 1999 and 2004. The only other owners to ever even win two consecutive National Championships were George Caballero (’93 & ’94), Ron Bieganowski (’07 & ’08), and Gregg Janoff (’14 & ’15).

Most Consecutive Pennants Won: Between 2002 and 2008, Ron Bieganowski won seven straight pennants in the Ernie Harwell League. Todd Lammi won pennants for nine straight seasons, but those were within three different leagues.

Longest ACTIVE Pennant Winning Streaks: Tony Nosis (four straight in UL4 and three straight in UL3), Rick Garlinghouse (two straight in Super 2), John Thell (two straight in Stan Musial), and David Przybylski (two straight in Al Kaline).

League Longevity Award: Bob Wilfore and Doug Kline have been members of UL4 every year since its inception in 1998. While those 20-year streaks are impressive, there is one other streak that is even more remarkable than that. This season will mark the 27th consecutive season that Andy Bylski has been a member of the Al Kaline League.

Afghanistan Draft:  Back around the year 2000, Paul Soehnlein who was a member of the United States Army had to draft his team live from Afghanistan.  Unfortunately, the conference call draft was scheduled for the same time that Paul had scheduled a deployment.  So Paul changed the time of the mission so that he wouldn’t miss the draft.

Most Unlikely Pennant Winner: In 2011, a current owner, whose name I am withholding in order to protect his privacy, was incarcerated right before the season began. However, he was not deterred. With the help of his future wife, he still drafted his team and reported his transactions for the full season FROM JAIL. Ultimately, he won the league. True story.

Most Ultimate Leagues Pennants Won: Tony Nosis (14), Todd Lammi (11), Gerry Scotto DiMarco (10), Ken Patten (10), and Gregg Janoff (8)

Most Super Megabucks Leagues Pennants Won: Tim Grand (4), Thomas Bonds (3), William Blais (3), and Les Travis (3).

Most Total Pennants Won: Ken Patten (28), Gregg Janoff (21), Gerry Scotto DiMarco (20), Tony Nosis (16), Bob Wilfore (16), Todd Lammi (13), Ken Sommers (13), George Caballero, (11), and Thomas Bonds (10).

Youngest Member in BoxScore Baseball History: Unofficially, it is Hall of Famer Keith Nosis (son of Tony Nosis) who first joined in 1995 when he was just 15 years old.

Oldest Member in BoxScore Baseball History: As far as I can determine, it is Gene Oestricher (Greenberg) whose DOB is Feb. 4, 1934. And I believe the runner-up is Ken Patten (UL2) born on May 8, 1936. Both owners are still current members.

BoxScore Baseball’s Only Female National Champion: Back in 1990, during our initial season, BoxScore Baseball ran two trial leagues exclusively for friends. As it turned out, the two league pennant winners each ended up winning five scoring categories outright and had to be declared co-champions when they tied the last remaining category with 1118 RBI’s apiece. Interestingly, one of those two winners was Bill Philp who four years later became the best man at my wedding and the other was Lynn Schafer who later became my wife.

PostHeaderIcon Celebrating 21 Years Of BoxScore Baseball Ultimate Leagues

Back in 1995 BoxScore Baseball created its Ultimate Leagues. The purpose of these lifetime leagues was to offer owners an experience that would more closely resemble the owning and the operation of an actual Major League Baseball team.  Currently, in 2016, BoxScore Baseball hosts 5 Ultimate Leagues.  Here are 10 interesting facts about these leagues:

  1. The BoxScore Baseball owners who have won the most Ultimate League pennants in history are Tony Nosis (13), Todd Lammi (11), Gerry Scotto DiMarco (10), Ken Patten (10), Gregg Janoff (8), and Bob Wilfore (7).
  2. Currently competing in BoxScore Baseball’s Ultimate Leagues are some of its most senior members. Joining BoxScore Baseball in 1993 were Bob Wilfore (UL1, UL2, UL3, UL4, & UL5), Gregg Janoff (UL3 & UL5), Ron Pennington (UL2), and Ken Patten (UL2). Joining in 1992 was Scott Nadler (UL4 & UL5). Joining in 1991 were William Blais (UL3) and Vernon Fong (UL3). And joining in our inaugural season in 1990 was Bill Philp (UL5).
  3. The only two owners in BoxScore Baseball history to win at least one Ultimate League pennant in all 3 decades–the 90’s, the 00’s, and the 10’s–are Bob Wilfore (’99, ’03, ’06, ’07, ’08, & ’10) and Ken Patten (’96, ’97, ’00, ’01, ’02,’03, ’05, ’08, & ’11).
  4. Arguably, the most powerful Ultimate League ever assembled was the original version of UL3 drafted back in 1997. That league consisted of 5 future Hall of Famers. The owners who made up that league have thus far combined to win a staggering 15 National Championships: Charlie Wiegert (’91), Gerry Scotto DiMarco (’97), Ken Patten (’00 & ’10), Gregg Janoff (’14 & ’15), George Caballero (’93, ’94, & ’98), and Todd Lammi (’99, ’00, ’01, ’02, ’03, & ’04).
  5. Presently, there are 7 former BoxScore Baseball National Champions competing within the Ultimate Leagues. They are Gregg Janoff (’14 & ’15), Tony Nosis (’09 & ’13), Bob Wilfore (’06 & ’08), Ken Patten (’00 & ’10), Brian Scott (’13), Lance Smith (’10), and Bill Philp (’90).
  6. There are 8 current Ultimate League owners who have been Super Megabucks League champions: 3-time winner William Blais (’04, ’13, & ’14), 2-time winners Thomas Bonds (’02 &’07) and Bob Wilfore (’08 & ’13) and 1-time winners Rick Garlinghouse (’15), Scott Nadler (’12), and Paul Hachey (’11), Lance Smith (’07), Gregg Janoff (’02).
  7. Ultimate League 1 began its existence with 6 different pennant winners in its first 6 seasons. Remarkably, in the league’s 17-year history, there have only been 2 repeat winners: Gregg Janoff (’00 & ’01) and Tony Nosis (’12 & ’13).
  8. More than any other Ultimate League, UL4 has been a league of dynasties. First, it was Gerry Scotto DiMarco winning 4 straight pennants between 1998-2001. Then, it was Todd Lammi winning 5 pennants in 6 years between 2004-2009. And finally, it has been Tony Nosis who is on a current streak of winning 4 pennants in 5 years between 2011-2015.
  9. Current UL4 owners Bob Wilfore and Doug Kline have been in the league for all 19 consecutive seasons since the league’s inception.
  10. In 2015, the current owners in UL5 combined to win half (7 of 14) of all of BoxScore Baseball’s total pennants: Tony Nosis (UL1, UL3, & UL4), Miles Eikenberry (UL5), Bob MacLeod (Megabucks), John Thell (Musial), and Rick Garlinghouse (Super 2)

PostHeaderIcon Who Would Have Thought?

As we enter the homestretch of the 2015 baseball season, I am beginning to take notice of all the things that are occurring this season that I never could have predicted back in March. Sure, injuries can cause players not to perform at the level they were expected to perform at. Anyone can say they would not have expected David Wright to have fewer home runs than fellow Mets third baseman Eric Campbell. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about surprises that have occurred without injuries as the sole factor. Here are 9 surprises I never could have predicted before the season began:

1) The Houston Astros. They are leading in the AL West. They have 2 starting pitchers tied for the most AL wins (Keuchel and McHugh) and 2 starting pitchers in the top 3 in AL ERA (Kazmir and Keuchel).

2) The Minnesota Twins. They have a better record than the Detroit Tigers.

3) The Texas Rangers. They have a better record than the Seattle Mariners.

4) The New York teams. Both the Yankees and Mets are winning their respective divisions.

5) Mark Teixeira. He has hit more home runs than any other first baseman except Albert Pujols. That includes Paul Goldshmidt and 15 other first basemen who hit more home runs than Teixeira hit last year (i.e. Edwin Encarnacion, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Abreu, Anthony Rizzo, Lucas Duda, Chris Carter, Victor Martinez, Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, etc).

6) Alex Rodriguez. After sitting out a full season, ARod is on a pace to hit more home runs than he has hit in any single season since he hit 54 in 2007.

7) Closers. Jeurys Familia and Brad Boxberger each have more saves than both Aroldis Chapman and David Robertson.

8) Dodger aces. Zack Grienke has a lower ERA, a lower WHIP, and more wins than his teammate Clayton Kershaw.

9) Mets aces. Jacob deGrom has a lower ERA, a lower WHIP, and more strikeouts than his teammate Matt Harvey (actually, I did predict this one, but it is still surprising to most).

It will be interesting to see what more surprises still lie ahead in this season full of surprises.

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