Can we determine the contenders this early?

The MLB season is well underway with most teams having played about 1/3 of their schedule which is about 55 games. A couple of months ago I wrote about the season starting. The article covered expert team predictions, expert player predictions, and my own personal predictions. Obviously teams have plenty of time to either start playing better or playing poorer, but 1/3 of the way into the season gives us a good preview of where it may end up. We can also look at the early leaders for MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year.

I, along with the experts predicted the AL would be a race between the Red Sox, Yankees, Astros, and Indians. I gave the Twins and Rays a shot to compete and that is a good thing. The Twins have come out firing on all cylinders and have the best record in the league. Are they for real? It looks to be that way based on the strength of their offense. They lead the league in home runs. They also have a nice pitching staff led by Odorizzi and Berrios. The Rays are hanging with the Yankees and are only a half game out of the lead in the East. If the season ended today the playoffs would feature the Astros, Twins, Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox. Plenty can change in the next 100-110 games so teams like the Indians and A’s have time to right the ship.

The National League is shaping up exactly as was figured early in the year. The Phillies and Braves are leading in the East, with the Cubs and Brewers leading the Central, and the Dodgers hold a comfortable lead in the West. Can anything change? I believe the Central is bunched up heavily and almost any team has a shot to come out on top. I also believe the Rockies and Padres have a shot to get hot and catch the Dodgers.

In my earlier article I mentioned that picking a winner of the Cy Young, MVP, and ROY would be very difficult. Now that the season is 1/3 complete I will make a few predictions. There are plenty of players that have had a great start to the season, but will they be able to sustain it? Here are a few names that should end up in the hunt for the MVP in the AL. I think Rosario, Bregman, Bogaerts, and of course Mike Trout have a shot. In the NL the favorites will be: Bellinger, Arenado, Yelich, and Rizzo. I think the Cy Young contenders in the AL are Verlander, Morton, Snell, and Odorizzi. The NL contenders will be Ryu, Scherzer, Greinke, and Strasburg. The ROY in the AL may come down to Chavis, Lowe, and possibly Vlad Jr. if he can get on a hot streak. In the NL the frontrunners are Alonso from the Mets and Paddack from the Padres.

It may be a little early to predict the actual winners of the divisions and player awards. Baseball has so many games that it is not too late for almost any team to make a run. Having 110 games left leaves plenty of time. In the NFL, being 1/3 of the way through the schedule means you have 10-11 games left and it may be too late. You also have to take the trade deadline into account. A team can get a dominant pitcher and that could drastically change the course of the season. Picking the winners could be anybody’s guess, but watching the season play out is what makes the sport so fun to follow.

—Victor Mandalawi