MLB: 5 teams that can be surprise contenders

The MLB season has just begun and there has been plenty of mayhem. Cody Bellinger is setting the world on fire. Boston does not look like the same team as they did last season, and the Astros and the Yankees have been anything but juggernauts.

5.  Mariners

You can’t ignore the Mariners. They’re 11-2 and beat up on the defending World Champs and have taken advantage of bad teams in the Angels and White Sox. While they may have traded two big pieces away in Robbie Cano and James Paxton, there’s still a surplus of talent on this squad.

Edwin Encarnacion has been a hitting machine, Dee Gordon is a more than capable nine-hole hitter, and Mallex Smith has already swiped four bags and batting leadoff.  Mitch Haniger has been on the verge of an MVP season for some time now and broke out big time in 2018 and established a name for himself.

There are plenty of more recognizable names in the lineup who are capable of producing some big numbers like Jay Bruce who has blasted five home runs already. While it is unlikely the Mariners continue at this pace they have to be talked about when a team is playing this well out of the gate while maintaining a lead in their division.

4. Reds

Now now, don’t write the Reds off quite yet. They may have started dreadfully at (1-8), but the roster underwent serious changes this past offseason. The Reds acquired Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp from the Dodgers to help their outfield.

Their rotation is what stands to have the most upside. In the same trade with the Dodgers, Alex Wood came to Cincinnati and has been a solid MLB pitcher during his career with a lifetime, 3.29 ERA and an All-star year in 2017. Luis Castillo has to be mentioned, as he had one of the best second halves in the league last season with a 2.43 ERA and has already impressed in his first two starts of the season in 2019. Finally, Sonny Gray has been a bright spot on other teams in the past so it is always possible that he gets hot and helps solidify Cincinnati’s rotation.

The Reds can brag about their four prospects in Nick Senzel, Taylor Trammell, Hunter Greene and Jonathan Indiana.  The National League got much better this off-season, so the competition for the Reds will be tight but having Joey Votto and Puig on the same team will definitely scare some teams and possibly help them make a run down the stretch.

3. Padres

The Padres have one of the brightest futures in baseball. They inked Manny Machado to a mega-deal and have broken the norm by allowing highly touted prospect, Fernando Tatis Jr. to begin the season on the big league roster. Along with Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer who have been weapons in the past the team has loads of talent.

The rotation is headlined by Joey Lucchesi and Chris Paddack. Both haven’t gotten very far into either of their starts, but the talent is evident. The Padres sit are right behind the Dodgers currently and might be their only competition with the Rockies playing some abysmal baseball(along with the Giants and Diamondbacks not truly being contenders).

2. Twins

In 2017, the Minnesota Twins shocked the world they went from a 59 win team, to a wildcard winner with all within one season. While they did lose to the Yankees in the wild-card round, their potential has still yet to be fully reached.

Jose Berrios has ace like stuff and many expect 2019 to be his year. Along with Berrios, their is a formidable lineup.

The Jury still isn’t out on Byron Buxton who has loads of talent however the teams best hitter in Eddie Rosario is capable of carrying a lineup. There is also CJ Cron who is able to provide the Twins with some power at the top of their lineup and Jonathan Schoop who greatly struggled last year but has a ton of upside, especially on such a cheap deal.

1. Rays

Last year, everyone forgot about the Rays. Cy-young winner Blake Snell did dazzle us with many great starts but the league was most focused on the Yankees-Red Sox battle.

Tampa was still able to win 90 games and deserve much more recognition than they’ve received. The season is off to a great start for the Rays with the Yanks and Sox stumbling early the Rays have been able to play good ball.

It appears that they’ve found a permanent closer in Jose Alvarado who has been throwing some gas and providing shut down 9th innings. With Snell already pitching well again they have also been able to put two more young studs behind him. Tyler Glasnow and Yonny Chirinos have impressed in each of their first two starts along with the Rays tactic of “the opener.” Everything seems to be falling into place for the Rays to scuttle into the playoffs and make a run that many won’t expect.

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