This season has been an exciting and topsy turvy one for Major League Baseball. Teams with historically mediocre records are dominating the teams with historically good winning records. Players that no one ever cared about, let alone heard of, are now standouts. Take a look as we outline the top surprises of this year’s MLB season.
If you had asked sports fans a year ago who they thought would be winning the AL West, probably zero would have said the Houston Astros. Before this season, the Astros last winning season was in 2008. Between 2008 and 2014, they had four seasons with more than 90 losses. Ouch. Now they are Major League Baseball’s Cinderella team. The Astros are sitting on top of the AL West, with the Rangers just nipping at their heels.
Pitcher Ryan Madsen
Everyone loves a comeback story, and it doesn’t get much better than Ryan Madsen’s comeback. The right-hander missed most of the last four seasons due to injury. After diligently recovering, his ERA at the All-Star break was 1.51. He averaged one strike per inning he pitched. He’s helping to lead the Kansas City Royals, who have a healthy lead in the AL Central Division this season.
Dave Stewart, general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, said the biggest obstacle to defeating the San Francisco Giants is their manager, Bruce Bochy. Actually, he jokingly recommended that his players kidnap Bochy before they played the Giants. Why? Because the first foreign-born manager to win the World Series has done so three times. He also passed the 1,500 win mark two seasons ago.
Despite these remarkable milestones, Bochy’s career started with humble beginnings, as a rarely used backup catcher. This season, ESPN polled MLB players, scouts, coaches, and general managers to find out who they thought was the best GM in the league. Bochy won by a landslide.
The Minnesota Twins were supposed to have a rebuilding year and it’s been anything but. Like the Astros, their record hasn’t been stellar in the past five years, since the Twins last put up more than 70 wins in 2010. Coincidentally, that was the last time they made it to the post-season. In 2009 and 2010, they lost the ALDS to the Yankees. Five years later, with some dramatic staffing changes, the Twins are battling the Rangers for the AL Wild Card title.
These surprise developments aside, there are surely more to come in the upcoming post-season play offs! So whether you’re a dedicated team fan, a casual observer, or student getting into athletic administration graduate programs online, baseball viewers everywhere can enjoy the upcoming post season with a few more of these surprising changes shifting up the season.