Now that we’re halfway through the MLB season, it’s time to take stock of what we’ve seen over the last few months – and what we’ve seen is a lot of dominance from the Chicago Cubs.
“I didn’t expect the Cubs to be a super team,” MLB Network host Brian Kenny said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I thought they’d be good. I thought they would come back and be pretty much even up with the Cardinals and even up with the Pirates, and instead they blew everybody out at the very beginning.”
The Cubs started the season 25-6 and 47-20. They’ve hit a rough patch lately – they’re 5-13 over their last 18 games – but are still 52-33 and lead the Cardinals (44-41) by eight games.
While the Cubs have the biggest lead of any division leader, the Orioles (49-35), with a two-game lead over the Blue Jays (49-39), have the smallest.
“I didn’t expect the Orioles to be on top, and I don’t expect them to be on top at the end – and I’ll probably be wrong on that too,” Kenny joked. “They just do not have the firepower. They don’t have the starting pitching. You’ve got to have a number of quality innings. They have holes all around. They have a lot of offensive holes. They play a lot of guys straight out of the minors. So even though they spend money, compared to the Red Sox and the Blue Jays and even the Yankees, they should not be in first pace. And yet, the way they compete, the way they get after it, the way they’re managed, there they are once again on top.”
Cleveland, meanwhile, is having its best season under Terry Francona, who, in his first year, took the indians from 68 wins to 92 wins.
“He did wonders for them immediately,” said Kenny, the author of Ahead of the Curve: Inside the Baseball Revolution. “He made them much better just getting there, and the last few years, he did the best he could. They’ve kind of been in the no man’s land of being pretty good but not quite good enough. They got to the playoffs one year and lost, but they’ve kind of been stuck – winning but not winning enough.”
The Indians won 92 games in 2013, 85 in 2014 and 81 in 2015.
“That’s a good team,” Kenny said, “but not good enough to get into a playoff series. They’ve played one Wild Card in those three years. So I think he’s done good steady job all of these years, and this year finally it all came together with their pitching. They have power pitching. I thought the Rays might be a better rotation, but they’ve emerged as the best rotation in the league.”