It’s been over two weeks since the MLB season started, and a lot has happened already. The Tampa Bay Rays won their first 13 games to start the year and are four games ahead in the American League (AL) East. Neither the Dodgers or the Padres are over .500, even with their wildly high payrolls. What about Luis Arraez who is batting an incredible .458 or Matt Chapman’s .415? Pete Alonso and Rafael Devers are also raking home runs like there’s no tomorrow; is that sustainable? With all of this in mind, what are the biggest overreactions DC Sports can think up? Let’s take a look in this week’s roundtable…
Associate Sports Editor
Devers carries Red Sox to a Wild Card spot
This is a hot take and may or may not happen, but Devers is playing out of his mind in the first year of his massive contract. In 70 at-bats, he has seven homers and he’s on pace to break 60 for the season. The Red Sox are just 9-9 at the time of writing, but it’s critical to mention that four of those games came in Tampa against the Rays who have had a historically good start. That series contributed to their MLB second hardest strength of schedule. Otherwise, they’ve been pretty strong and look poised to have a better-than-expected season. Even though Adam Duvall is gone for the foreseeable future with a broken wrist, it’s tough to imagine they don’t regroup and replace him. Even in a tough AL East, the Sox have enough firepower to make the playoffs behind Devers’ bat.
Luis Arraez bats over .400 into June
The Marlins newest infielder, Luis Arraez, has opened the season on an absolute tear. As a Minnesota Twins last season, he finished fourth overall by season’s end in batting average at .316. Daniel Murphy was the last time I can think of that a player carried an average around .400 into June, and I think Arraez will be the next to join that list. His hot start mirrors the start that Murphy had back in 2016, he just needs to keep up the pace that he’s at. Arraez comes off a season in which he made his first all star appearance and earned a silver slugger award, so the pedigree is there to show he’s capable. The NL East offers some of the best pitchers league wide, but with fewer games against in-division opponents can aid in Arraez’s .400 effort.
Pete Alonso might just win NL MVP this year
In their quest to bring a World Series back to the Big Apple, the New York Yankees and New York Mets are going to unintentionally one-up each other on multiple occasions, especially in the home run category. In 2017, Aaron Judge hit 52 home runs and won American League Rookie of the Year. Pete Alonso broke that rookie record two years later when he hit 53 for the Mets, unanimously winning NL Rookie of the Year as a result. Across 157 games last season, Judge hit an AL record 62 home runs as he won his first AL MVP award, but 18 games into 2023, Alonso is tied for the league lead with Patrick Wisdom at eight. The Polar Bear will not break Barry Bonds’ NL single-season home run record set in 2001, but he will hit more than 60, potentially reaching that milestone earlier in September than Judge did. The Mets have never fielded an MVP in their storied history, but that will change when commissioner Rob Manfred gives Alonso his first in November.
The Tampa Bay Rays will win the AL Pennant
As I’m writing this, the Rays have the best record in baseball, sitting at 15-3, one game ahead of the Atlanta Braves overall. They haven’t been on many deep runs in the Postseason, with two World Series appearances in 2008 and 2020. Outfielder Randy Arozarena and shortstop Wander Franco bat over .300 through the majority of the season already, and the team is tied for first in the MLB in batting average with .286. They lead the league in home runs with 41. They also have the most RBIs with 123 — 26 more than the next team. They’re second in hits with 176, seven behind the Phillies. The Rays’ pitching staff ranks second in ERA with 2.72. Shane McClanahan has an ERA of 1.57 and four wins. Their fielding ranks tied for second with the Astros in the AL with a percentage of .989. Overall, the Rays are off to a strong start, including a 13-0 start. Tampa Bay could be World Series bound if they keep this up.