We are two months into the 2011 MLB, and there are some things that should surprise no one. After a slow start, the Red Sox are in first place. The Phillies rule the East, and Roy Halladay has been just as good as advertised, however there have been many surprises. Some teams have been better than expected, and other individual athletes have shined. Lets take a look at some of the surprise performers.
Suprises: Arizona Diamondbacks (30-25) I picked the D'backs to lose 96 games before the year. I figured they had some decent offensive players, but lacked pitching. Well, the bullpen is one of the biggest reasons the team sits atop the National League West. J.J. Putz has been flawless as the closer, and Rule 5 pick Joe Paterson, and Daniel Hernandez have fortified the backend of the bullpen. There is no reason why the D'backs cannot contend all year.
Cleveland Indians (32-20) Again, I picked the Indians to crash and burn this season, but they have built a sizeable lead in the AL Central. Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin have been a revelation this season, and Grady Sizemore is back from knee surgery. Cleveland could win the AL Central this year.
Florida Marlins (31-22) The Marlins are the Wild-Card leader, and Hanley Ramirez is hitting .210. However Gaby Sanchez, and Logan Morrison are having great seasons. Throw in young slugger Mike Stanton, and this team could be scary for years to come. Anibal Sanchez has been tremendous, and they have a legitimate #1 in Josh Johnson, when healthy.
AL MVP: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays are only one game over .500, but Bautista's numbers are simply too amazing to ignore. He has a slash line of .356/.502/.791. The guy has 20 bombs, and could win the Triple Crown. He has 46 walks, and 28 strikeouts. He is unreal.
NL MVP: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers. The National League wasn't as easy to pick someone, as I considered Jay Bruce among others, but Braun is my pick. He could become a 30/30 guy, and he has an OPS of exactly 1.000. He also leads the NL in runs.
AL Cy Young: James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays. Shields has rebounded from an awful 2010, and is my pick for the Cy Young. He's among the league leaders in ERA with 2.15, and innings with 83.2 innings. He leads the AL in complete games, shutouts, and strikeouts.
NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco. Ignore his 5-4 record, the Giants are a pitiful offensive club, but Timmy has been as dominant as ever. He has an ERA of 2.22, and is striking out more than a batter an inning. Timmy could have his third Cy Young before the age of 30.
AL ROY: Michael Pineda, Seattle Mariners: Pineda has been one of the best pitchers in the league, rookie or veteran. He is 6-2 with a 2.42 ERA, and he is averaging 9.4 K's per nine innings.
NL ROY: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves. Kimbrel has been solid as the closer for the Braves, with 15 saves, and he leads the NL in games finished with 23. He has blown four, but rookies aren't often thrust into the closer role, and he has handled it just fine.