Each MLB season features its own unique surprises and head-scratchers. From individual performances to streaking teams, the jacks popping out of those boxes have certainly shocked the MLB world. Good thing for you, I’m about to give you a nice list here!
Mookie Betts, OF Boston Red Sox
Most of the surprises on this list came out of nowhere. Mookie, not so much. Good ole Mookie has been an All-Star the last two seasons, but what he’s doing this year may not be possible. Like, I’ve looked at all the stats, so it must be true. But, it might not be true. Betts leads the AL in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and total bases. Oh, and he also has the coolest name in the MLB, but that should not be a surprise to anyone.
Pittsburgh Pirates (26-20, 2nd in NL Central)
Within a span of four days in January, the Pirates dealt former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen and their ace Gerrit Cole for a variety of young prospects and MLB newbies. The Pirates seemed destined for a year or two of rebuilding, but their early success has certainly caught the attention of their NL Central neighbors. Since starting the year 11-4, the Bucs have settled down, but their offense has kept them afloat. Led by a bevy of bats, the Pirates hold top-five NL marks in runs, hits, doubles, total bases, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Some improved pitching could keep this team in the playoff hunt come September.
Odubel Herrera, OF Philadelphia Phillies
Don’t look now, but the Phillies aren’t horrible. Their pitching staff, spearheaded by Aaron Nola and newcomer Jake Arrieta, has set the table for success with just a little bit of timely hitting. That’s where my man Odubel comes in. Not only does Herrera lead the NL in batting average, but he also holds an on-base percentage of .420 (blaze it) right now. Oh, and his hair is crazy awesome. It looks awful, but in a good way. It’s like the Yankees: awful, but good. Odubel does it all for the Phils, and at 26, he has a fantastic MLB future ahead of him as a pure hitter.
Atlanta Braves (28-17, 1st in NL East)
If you’re looking for a team to root for, look no further than the up-and-coming Atlanta Braves. Young guns Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Sean Newcomb have coupled nicely with veterans Nick Markakis and Freddie Freeman to the tune of the best record in the NL. Newcomb has racked up four consecutive quality starts in the month of May allowing just one run in the four contests combined. Little Ozzie Albies has shown power that defies his 5-9, 165 lb frame. Leading the NL in home runs, Albies is an extra-base hit connoisseur. New stadium, new stars, and a dude named Mike Foltynewicz…what’s not to like?
Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress, RP’s Milwaukee Brewers
Both Hader and Jeffress boasted respectable 2017 seasons netting ERA’s of 2.08 and 3.65 respectively. But both of these flamethrowers have cut down those ERA’s and frazzled hitters outing after outing. And, they’re doing it in surprisingly different ways. Hader throwing untouchable fastballs and jumpy slider that leap out of his sidearm delivery, while Jeffress has ditched his changeup and depends on his sinking fastball and curve. Jeffress pulls the Houdini act by escaping late-game jams while Hader just strikes out everyone. And I mean everyone.
Stay tuned for an All-Star Break version of this “Jack-in-the-Box” list!