Nearly two months into the 2023 MLB season, each division is beginning to show clear leadership. There’s still a lot more action to come, but several teams are already setting themselves apart from the rest.
The American League has a clear leader, while the other teams follow suit.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays, with a 32-13 record, are the clear leader of the East Division and the American League as a whole. So far, the key to success for the Rays has been the combination of pitching and defense. However, injuries to Drew Rasmussen, Shane Baz, Jeffrey Springs and Tyler Glasnow have put manager Kevin Cash in trouble.
The Rays will need to be vigilant, as the Blue Jays and Orioles are hot on their heels. They’re taking on the Milwaukee Brewers (24-19) today at Tropicana Field in the first game of a three-game series after dropping their last four. The Brewers, on the other hand, have won their last four.
If the Rays can keep it together and have Shane McClanahan work his magic, they’ll break the losing streak.
The Minnesota Twins have the benefit of being an above-average team in a weak division. At 24-20, Minnesota leads the Central Division over the Cleveland Guardians by more than three games. The schedule of games will be crucial as series are looming with the Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays and Rays.
The Twins start a three-game set against the Los Angeles Angels today. They have turned things around to win their last four, while the Angels have dropped their last four. Minnesota will win, although the Angels are going to make it difficult.
The Rangers have been a mild upset in the Western Division. While spending on talent has been significant, the results have not been as expected so far. The addition of Jacob DeGrom promised to give Texas a solid ace. However, his absence has allowed Nathan Eovaldi to be the ace of the rotation.
With the Rangers’ offense, everything indicates that the Astros will have strong competition for the division lead. The Rangers have the day off, but take on the Colorado Rockies tomorrow to start a three-game series. However, they are in a position that could see them slip to the underdogs.
The National League has been characterized by large teams taking the baton in each division.
After the New York Mets’ offseason and their multimillion-dollar spending, their 22-23 record has been abysmal. Instead, the Atlanta Braves remain in charge with an enviable 27-16 record. Everything has worked out well for the Braves, particularly in terms of pitching.
Recent losses to the Boston Red Sox and Blue Jays have raised some questions about the Braves’ ability to face dominant teams. As they start a three-game set against the Seattle Mariners today, they’re going to keep their momentum going.
The Brewers are the least showy division leader. Their arrival at the top of the Central Division has largely been to the mediocrity of the division as a whole. The 18-1 loss at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals has been a wake-up call.
Considering they will soon face top-tier teams like the Astros and Rays, the Brewers will need to do their best to stay in first place. It’s not going to go well for them as they face the Rays.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The LA Dodgers had sparked a whole series of speculation about their performance, particularly with the loss of Trea Turner. Despite the start, the Dodgers have found the formula. Dave Roberts’ infield now has a three-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks, leaving the Giants and Padres on the road.
So far, experiments like Mookie Betts at shortstop have been successful. In addition, the Dodgers will need Clayton Kershaw to continue his form if the Dodgers remain atop the Western Division.
What hasn’t been successful is the Dodgers’ offensive performance. They began a four-game set against the Arizona Cardinals yesterday, losing 16-8 in the first game. Fortunately, that was a fluke that won’t likely be repeated tonight.