We have reached the halfway point of the 2023 MLB season. Personally, it seems like just yesterday that we were wondering how the pitch timer would go over, how teams would survive without shifts and how big those bases really were.
I think it is safe to say that it is not surprising how much the game has improved with the rule changes. Still, the 2023 season has brought us more than a few surprises.
I think the one of the biggest surprises is that the National League West seems upside down. Arizona is on top. Not the Los Angeles Dodgers or the San Diego Padres. No, the Diamondbacks lead the division. In fact, the Dodgers or Padres are not even in second place. That belongs to the upstart San Francisco Giants.
Speaking of surprises, how about the fact that the Texas Rangers and the Cincinnati Reds are also in first place in their respective division.
The Rangers went into the season with high hopes, but we heard that before. Texas appears for real this year as evidenced by its five-game lead over the defending champion Astros.
But what about those Reds? They have come out of nowhere and have become the most exciting team in baseball, thanks largely to their electrifying rookie Elly De La Cruz. I always like seeing new blood in the postseason. Texas and Cincy look like they will be providing it.
Another surprise has to be the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s are nearly matching Tampa Bay as the best team in both the AL East and in baseball Baltimore completed its long rebuilding project last year and are playing even better in 2023. They are only four games behind the Rays in the American League East and holding the third-best record in baseball.
Individual exploits include the fact that Luis Arraez is still flirting with .400. There’s only one man — Ronald Acuña Jr. — within 80 points of him! One has to believe that it’sprobably harder to hit .400 right now than at any time in baseball history. And there’s Arraez, still there. Oh, and don’t forget his team: The Marlins are 11 games over .500 and in position for a Wild Card spot. That, also, has to be viewed as a surprise.
I am going to close with this. The team with MLB’s biggest payroll could be sellers at the trading deadline. Proving that money often does not buy championships, the New York Mets are likely to miss out on the playoffs and will likely start trading away over-paid players. The Padres also may start selling off some of their underachievers as it appears they, like the Mets, will not return to the playoffs despite having a huge payroll.