Posted 04/23/2009 at 02:54 PM
Which MLB team off to a solid start is the most likely to stay in contention all year long? There are several teams that may appear to be overachieving so far this season and in all likelihood order will be restored at some point, but through the first 14-16 games of the season there are signs that some teams may really have what it takes.
Those that love offense and runs will not like seeing the Royals and the Pirates both with winning records but both teams may have what it takes to stay in the mix, or at least push for an over .500 season. Both teams have had great starting pitching this season and there is reason to believe that it is not a 2-week fluke. With Greinke, Meche, and Davies the Royals may have the best top of the rotation in the division and Cleveland, Detroit, and Minnesota have really struggled with pitching. Chicago and Kansas City should have the best pitching in the division and the offensive numbers for both teams should be good enough to stay in the mix.
Pittsburgh has found an ace in Paul Maholm as he is off to a great start while Zach Duke and Ian Snell have showed promising starts after inconsistency in the past two seasons. The Pittsburgh bullpen has been among the best in baseball with Matt Capps off to a perfect start. Ross Ohlendorf and Jeff Karstens will be the determining factors to whether Pittsburgh can stay relevant and so far both young pitchers have been encouraging.
Toronto may appear to be a more legitimate contender among the teams off to hot starts but in reality the Blue Jays starting pitching has been decimated with injuries and will not hold up all season. Roy Halladay is as good as it gets but he can not carry this team. The hot start on offense is not likely to last and the Blue Jays have not hit the toughest parts of the schedule and inevitably the AL East games will take a toll.
Although Seattle is not likely to win at the same percentage that they have posted early in the year the Mariners probably have a better shot at reaching the postseason. Like the NL West last year the AL West could be an ugly group of teams fighting to stay above .500. The Angels have really struggled early and unless the pitching improves, Los Angeles could stay in the early season hole that they have dug. Oakland was a trendy pick in this division but the A's have not received the offense they expected and the young rotation will see some rough patches. Texas will struggle to hold leads and will burn through pitchers but the offense could carry the Rangers. Seattle has a great 1-2 in Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard. Jarrod Washburn has looked great so far this season but the rest of the rotation is still big question mark for the Mariners.