Now that the 2023 Major League Baseball season has moved into June, we can start to begin earnestly trying to sort things out. That is to say, while some teams with good records so far could collapse just as slow starters could get hot and move into playoff position, we have a decent enough sample to reconsider previously held notions. It would be totally foolish to abandon any strong convictions you had about teams in the preseason before we got to June. Now that we're in June, there's room for amendment.
Two teams from the southwest who should have turned heads to this point and hopefully are causing some reconsideration would be the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Heading into the season, I thought the D-Backs would be a total pest to contenders and possibly a sneaky sleeper to hang around in contention for a while. Ultimately, though, I didn't think they'd be a long-term contender as much as, again, a team that gives actual contenders fits.
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Instead, they have the look of a contender. The offense is exciting. They have five players in double digits in doubles, decent home-run power and run the bases very well. Newcomer Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is having a huge year just as is must-watch rookie Corbin Carroll.
It's possible there will be down stretches, but overall to be 10 games over .500 is a huge accomplishment for these D-Backs on June 5. They've gone 15-7 since May 11, too.
Regarding the Rangers, I remarked multiple times that the Rangers had gigantic upside and that, if everyone was healthy and playing up to their ability, this team could win the World Series. I also thought the variance was so huge that a terrible season and fourth-place finish in the AL West was possible.
So far, things are pointing up in a big way. Hell, they you can't even say something like "everything has gone right," because it hasn't. Jacob deGrom has only made six starts and Corey Seager has missed more games than he's played.
And yet, the Rangers have been amazing to this point. They have the second-best record in the majors -- only 2 1/2 games behind a team that started the season 13-0 -- and have the best run differential by 30. The offense is arguably the best in the majors behind All-Star-caliber work from the likes of Marcus Semien, Adolis García, Josh Jung and Jonah Heim. The rotation has been excellent, too. Nathan Eovaldi would be in the running for Cy Young right now while Jon Gray and Dane Dunning (filling in for deGrom) have been great.
I also think we've seen enough to give the proper due to the impact Bruce Bochy has in that dugout.
I had both the Rangers and Diamondbacks missing the playoffs in my preseason predictions. If you gave me one mulligan, I'd take the Rangers in a heartbeat. If you gave me an NL-only mulligan, I'd have to give strong consideration to using it on the Diamondbacks.
|They're still holding on to the best start in franchise history. The previous high win total through 61 games was 39 (2010) with 38 in 2019 and 2021.||--||46-19|
|Only four teams have scored 300 runs so far this season. Only the Rays and Rangers are over 350. The Rays are at 355. The Rangers have scored 376 runs and they've played three fewer games than the Rays.||--||40-21|
|I have a little game to play in order to illustrate just how high the Astros have set the bar. Be honest: How strong does it feel like the Astros have been this season? Think, internally, for a second about how impressive the Astros have felt to you this year. Now square that up with the realization that they are on pace to win 96 games.||1||36-27|
|It's beyond clear that I was wrong about the Orioles heading into the season. I thought they'd be mediocre. They are far from that. The win Sunday in San Francisco moved the Orioles to 20-10 on the road this season. They didn't win 20 road games all of 2018. For real, they were 19-62 on the road that year.||1||38-24|
|Since May 1, the Yankees are 21-10. Only the Rangers (21-9) have been better in that span.||2||37-27|
|J.D. Martinez only hit 16 home runs last season in 533 at-bats. His .448 slugging percentage was the lowest it had been in a decent sample since 2013. He was entering his age-35 season when the Dodgers decided to grab him on a one-year deal. He has 14 homers and is slugging over .600.||1||36-27|
|Over the course of 162 games, individual results will happen that look weird or dumb or even fake. The Braves dropping two of three to the hapless A's shows that absolutely anything at all is possible. That series is one of the reasons the NL doesn't have a top-five team. I just couldn't put the Braves in there after that. Had they won that extra-innings game, they'd probably be five with the Yankees six and Dodgers seven.||1||38-24|
|Man, that Eddie Rosario grand slam in the ninth Sunday was a gut punch. The D-Backs were set to enter this week with the best record in the NL.||2||37-25|
|They appear to be over their funk. The Jays have won six of seven now. They've still played so many fewer home games (25) than road (35), too. They host the Astros for a four-game series to start this new week and that'll be fun.||2||36-28|
|Jon Singleton is back in the majors for the first time since 2015. Remarkable story.||3||34-29|
|After taking the first two games of the series from the Guardians, it really felt like the Twins had a chance for a weekend to remember. And then they dropped the next two and that 3 1/2 game lead over the Guardians feels awfully tenuous.||3||31-32|
|The Red Sox have lost nine of their last 13 and have gone 9-15 since May 6.||3||31-32|
|Here's a good one from the files of you can't predict baseball: Sandy Alcantara is 2-5 with a 5.07 ERA. The Marlins are just 4-8 in his 12 starts. And yet, they are four games over .500 and in playoff position.||2||35-28|
|I keep getting asked how far out of playoff contention the Angels have to be in order for Shohei Ohtani to be put on the trade block and the answer is a lot more. It is five games from the last wild card right now and there's no way to justify dealing this player in that range.||2||34-30|
|The roller coaster continues, as the Mets sweep the Phillies before getting swept by the Jays. Through 60 games, they sit at exactly .500. Also, this bunch from 12-18 is impossible to rank. Put them however you want.||2||30-33|
|I definitely got overzealous last week. I own it. The Mariners didn't help with an embarrassing showing this past week, that's for sure.||8||30-31|
|And now they've won five in a row. They were never good enough to be 20-8, but by banking that many wins, they've set themselves up to exceed expectations all season. Especially with them being in a Central division (even if it's the stronger of the two), they've got a fighting chance.||4||32-29|
|Rough week and they've lost five of seven after that hot streak that all of a sudden put them two games over .500. The good news is a three-game series in Colorado followed by three games against the Cubs at home could prove to be a fruitful week.||6||32-30|
|If we could use GIFs in these team comments, I think I'd go with the one where Judge Smails, very intensely, says "well, we're waiting!"||1||29-33|
|For whatever reason, Kyle Schwarber has much better numbers in June than any other month in his career. In 2021, he hit 16 homers in 100 at-bats. Last year, he had 12 homers and 27 RBI in 27 games. Sunday, he hit two homers and drove home six. Here he comes?||2||30-32|
|Triston McKenzie is back off the IL and struck out 10 in his 2023 debut. The Guardians are just 3 1/2 games behind the Twins despite so many problems so far this season. Hmmm ...||1||29-33|
|The Reds were only down by three games with the first-place Brewers coming to town for a four-game series. Moving into first place in June this season would've marked a major statement to a disillusioned (rightfully, mind you) fan base. Instead, the Reds have now lost four straight and sit six out.||2||29-34|
|Taking two of three from the Rays (and nearly sweeping them) before getting two of the first three in San Diego is a hell of a week.||5||26-36|
|They are closer to first place than the Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays, Phillies, Angels, Mariners and Padres. Everyone say hello to the AL Central!||2||28-36|
|After climbing to just one game out on Memorial Day, the Tigers have lost five of six and now get to the play the Phillies, Diamondbacks, Braves and Twins in their next four series. We can start burying them.||6||26-34|
|Remember when Joey Meneses came from seemingly nowhere to hit .324 in 56 games as a rookie last year? He started slow this season, but he's now hitting .336 in his last 43 games.||1||25-36|
|They just got swept in Pittsburgh, have lost five of six and are again 10 under .500. At this point, the bad times have far outweighed that one hot streak.||4||26-37|
|I love a good, old-fashioned Coors split. Check this one out: Catcher Elias Diaz is hitting .374 with a 1.052 OPS at home versus .244 and .620 on the road. He has six homers and 21 RBI at home versus zero and eight, respectively, on the road. He has one fewer plate appearance at home, too.||3||26-38|
|In nearly any other season, there would be an awful lot of attention on how pathetic the Royals have been to this point. For example, the worst team in baseball won at a .340 clip last season. In 2021, the worst teams played .321 ball and lost 110 games apiece. The Royals are at .305 right now and still are ahead of the A's by SEVEN games.||--||18-44|
|They are on pace to go 32-130.||--||14-50|