Surprise, surprise: MLB season one month old and new and old faces leading the packs

05/04/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak

The first month of the 2015 Major League Baseball season is in the books. There have been some surprising teams so far, both good and bad. Let's take a look at what's going on around the majors 1/8 of the way into the 2K15 season.
Starting in the American League, the biggest surprise so far has to be the Houston Astros. After winning just 70 games in 2014, the Astros have the best winning percentage of any team in the AL. A big reason for Houston's early season success is because they have the best record on the road of any MLB team. The Astros hold a 7 game lead over the rest of the AL West, and are the only team in the division with an above .500 record. And that's the other surprise in the AL West. Many thought the division would be a toss up with Seattle, Oakland, and Los Angeles being the favorites. So far those 3 teams have a combined record of 32 and 44.
The AL East has been a little more balanced, as all but one team has an over .500 record and only 4 games separate first place from last. The NY Yankees are leading the division, which is a slight surprise since the Yankees had one of the older rosters coming into the season and were predicted to be a middle of the pack team in the division. Perhaps the biggest surprise in the division though has been the play of the Boston Red Sox. After an offseason full of free agent acquisitions, the Red Sox only have a .500 record and a division worse minus 9 run differential.

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The AL Central has gone more along the lines of expectation so far. Detroit leads the division, and is the team that was picked by many to win it. Last seasons American League champions, the Kansas City Royals are right behind the Tigers, due in large part to their MLB best +45 run differential. Some expected Cleveland to be a contender this season, but the Indians haven't had a very good start, sitting at 6 games below .500 and 7 games out of first place.
Turning to the National League, April has provided some good and bad surprises in the East. The biggest surprise has been the slow start by the Washington Nationals, who had the best record in MLB last season. The Nationals are sitting 4 games out of first and 2 games under .500 after the first month of the 2015 season. The early season leader is the NY Mets, who were looked at as a middle of the division finisher in most pre season predictions. But the Mets have a 3 1/2 game lead in the division, and are the only team with a better than .500 record. The Mets early season success has a lot to do with their play at home, as the Mets 11 home wins are tied for second best in MLB.
In the NL Central, it's been business as usual for one team, a surprising start in a good way for another team, and a surprising start in a bad way for a third team. The first team is the St. Louis Cardinals, who have the best record in MLB so far. The Cardinals 11 home wins are tied for second best in MLB, and their +40 run differential is the best in the NL. The second team is the Chicago Cubs, who are the only other team in the division with a better than .500 record. The predictions prior to the season expected the Cubs to be better this year, and so far they have been. The third team is the Pittsburgh Pirates. Many predicted the Pirates to win the Central this season, some feeling they were a pre season World Series favorite. So far the Pirates are a game under .500. The biggest contributors to their early season woes being scoring (2nd lowest in the NL Central) and their road record, which is 3 games below .500.
In the NL West, the pre season favorite has lived up to the billing. The LA Dodgers have an early 3 game lead in the division, and their 13 home victories are the best in MLB. San Diego was considered to be the team that would challenge the Dodgers for the division, and so far they have. The Padres are the only team in the division with a winning record at home and at least a .500 winning percentage on the road. The defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants have tried to keep pace, sitting a game under .500 and 4 1/2 games out of first place. But the Giants have scored the 3rd least amount of runs in MLB, which is a major reason they're closer to the bottom of the division

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