We’re about four weeks into the 2021 MLB season and there have been quite a few surprises. Leading the division at the end of April isn’t exactly a cause for celebration, but they still deserve their credit. Here we’ll be examining each first place team (except for the Mets, who are only at .500 at the time this is being written, hardly a hot start). Also, even though the Giants and Dodgers are tied for the division lead at this moment, we’re going to look at the Giants rather than the Dodgers because this was expected of LA and not so much of San Francisco.
AL East: Boston Red Sox
After starting the season with getting swept at home by the Baltimore Orioles, things were looking bleak early for the Red Sox. Then they immediately pulled off a nine game win streak which included sweeps of the Rays and Orioles. Led by J.D. Martinez, Boston leads the MLB in batting average and slugging percentage. The pitching, however, has been below average, as expected. Unless the Red Sox make some moves, it is hard to see Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers being able to sustain a top offense in the league that can continue to make up for the poor pitching. Plus, it’s only a matter of time until the Blue Jays and Yankees get hot.
AL Central: Kansas City Royals
The Royals might be in a bit of a sweet spot of their rebuild where their young guys and their vets are both contributing and manufacturing wins. Picked by most to finish towards the bottom of the division, Kansas City has been the biggest surprise of the season. They are especially interesting because they aren’t putting up particularly impressive numbers on offense or pitching. In fact, the Royals are statistically below average on offense and pitching. However, they don’t care and are winning anyway. While the Royals are so likable as an underdog team, there’s a better chance that they finish in last than in first. That being said, a wildcard appearance is not out of the question and the future is looking bright in Kansas City.
AL West: Oakland A’s
It’s been quite a rollercoaster so far for the A’s. After starting the season on a six game losing streak, they have only lost three games since. They also went on a 13 game winning streak, the longest of the season for any team. While the streakiness has been surprising for Oakland, their overall season so far has been pretty much as expected. The A’s were a popular pick to win the division and still should be the pick after the ups and downs. It’s not guaranteed, but it looks like Oakland’s six game slide was the fluke, not the 13 game winning streak.
NL Central: Milwaukee Brewers
This division was supposed to belong to the St. Louis Cardinals after their big offseason. While the Cards aren’t living up to their lofty expectations, however, the Brewers are surpassing their own. Starters Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff are looking like the best 1-2 punch in baseball right now and Josh Hader is nearly unhittable out of the bullpen. Christain Yelich has only played nine games so far, but he is beginning to look like himself again. The NL Central isn’t a very talented division, and the Brewers have enough to win it.
NL West: San Francisco Giants
It is unfortunate for the Giants that they are in the same division as the Dodgers and Padres. The Giants are tied for first in the division with the Dodgers right now, but that isn’t expected to last for very long. Despite the near guarantee that they will finish third in the division, San Francisco is actually a very good baseball team. The main reason for this is their pitching, which has been one of the best staffs in the league. While winning the division is highly unlikely, the Giants are an excellent pick for a wildcard team.