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The three most surprising MLB teams so far

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There are not a lot of surprises around Major League Baseball when it comes to some of the best teams. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees are all mostly doing what was expected (or hoped) and separating themselves from the rest of the pack in their divisions.

There are, however, a handful of teams that are doing a lot better than expected so far this season. Here are three of them.

Kansas City Royals

The Royals have been one of baseball’s worst teams for the past seven years and are coming off a 106-loss season in 2023. But the Royals made a serious investment in starting pitching this offseason with the signings of Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha, while shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. has started his rise to superstardom that the Royals have been hoping for. 

The starting pitching upgrades have been a key driving force behind their 21-15 record entering Tuesday as the Royals’ 3.31 ERA as a team is seventh-best in the league. Lugo has been especially dominant with a 1.60 ERA in his first seven starts. Cole Ragans (3.38 ERA) and Brady Singer (2.45 ERA) have also been great in the rotation.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals are still in the early stages of a full-scale rebuild but are off to a promising 17-17 start that has been driven by some of their emerging young players. 

The most impressive of those performances so far has to belong to shortstop C.J. Abrams and his .914 OPS. The 23-year-old leads the league with four triples, has already hit seven home runs and looks like an emerging star in the middle of the Nationals’ infield. He was one of the key players acquired from the San Diego Padres in the Juan Soto trade. 

Starting pitcher Mackenzie Gore, also acquired in that trade, has a 3.44 ERA in his first seven starts to lead the rotation. Luis Garcia Jr. and Jacob Young are two more young players off to strong starts at the plate, while veteran outfielder Jesse Winker has been a big addition to the lineup with a .793 OPS in his first 33 games. 

The Nationals probably do not have the talent or depth to hang in the National League East race with the likes of Philadelphia or Atlanta, but after losing 90-plus games three years in a row, being at .500 and playing competitive baseball at this point of the season is a nice step forward, especially with some of their top young players leading the way.

Oakland A’s

The A’s might be two games under .500 (17-19) entering play on Tuesday, but that is still a shockingly good record given the preseason expectations and all of the drama surrounding this franchise. 

The roster itself is not great, they lost 112 games a year ago, they are about to enter a multi-year stretch without a real Major League-worthy home and they are playing in front of some of the smallest home crowds in baseball. There is every reason for this team to stink. So far, it has not. 

The biggest strength so far has been a dominant bullpen that has done a great job locking down leads. Closer Mason Miller has been one of the biggest stories in baseball this season thanks to his electric arm that regularly sees him topping 102 mph with his fastball. He has already struck out 29 batters in just 14.1 innings entering play on Tuesday and has been one of the best relief pitchers in the league.


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