The MLB season is less than four weeks into its grueling 162-game schedule, and it’s already packed with a year’s worth of highlights.
From pitchers hitting bombs to position players carving up the strike zone, we’ve truly seen it all in this young season.
— MLB (@MLB) April 5, 2021
Willians Astudillo, 72mph Fastball and 46mph Slowball, Overlay. 🐢 pic.twitter.com/xE9LxNbRqF
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 17, 2021
Surprise contenders have risen to the top of their division, while championship favorites have sunk to the cellar.
A lot can change over the next five months, but for now, let’s acknowledge the best of the best so far in April.
Here are three teams that are off to great starts to begin the 2021 season.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Not everything has to be a surprise, right?
The Los Angeles Dodgers came into this season as the defending world champions and have lived up to the billing.
They have the best record in baseball at 14-4 and own the top mark in run differential at +38.
Zack McKinstry hits the Dodgers' first homer of the year, an inside the park homer off Raimel Tapia's glove. pic.twitter.com/3BdENTxJyM
— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) April 4, 2021
The pitching, though, is the crown jewel of this team.
Each of them has an ERA of 2.81 or better, and they have produced a combined 12 quality starts, easily the best mark in the MLB.
There isn’t a more complete or talented roster in baseball, and so far, they have the record and stats to back it up.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox did not have high expectations this year after their last-place finish in 2020.
They swung the bat well, but their atrocious pitching kept them from climbing out of the basement.
This season, they’ve surged to the top of the AL East with a more potent offense and improved pitching staff.
Boston currently owns an AL-best 12-7 record and +27 run differential through 19 games.
They are by far the best hitting team, either at or near the top in several categories.
Red Sox offense rankings, among the 30 teams:
Runs: First (96)
Hits: First (165)
Doubles: First (40)
Homers: Eighth (21)
OBP: Second (.351)
OPS: First (.818)
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) April 20, 2021
And while their pitching hasn’t quite matched their slugging, it has done more than enough to keep them in games.
The Red Sox bullpen owned a cumulative 5.79 ERA in 2020, good for 27th in the league.
The offense will inevitably come down to earth at some point, but if their pitching staff can maintain their productivity, it will be difficult for the rest of the division to knock them from the top spot.
This nomination could have gone to the Seattle Mariners, the Kansas City Royals, the San Francisco Giants, or the streaking Oakland Athletics.
However, none of these teams dominate at any particular facet of the game quite like the Milwaukee Brewers have done with pitching.
The Brewers sit third in the MLB with a team ERA of 2.71 and WHIP of 1.05.
This is getting absurd.
Assuming Corbin Burnes' day is done after six innings, he is the first pitcher in MLB history to start the year with 4 straight starts of 9+ strikeouts and 0 BB.
No other pitcher has even had 2 (!!!).
— Curt Hogg (@CyrtHogg) April 21, 2021
Yet, Milwaukee has needed every ounce of effort from their starters, as the offense has sputtered to begin 2021.
Home runs have kept the offense afloat, but otherwise, the team has an atrocious .209 batting average and .660 OPS.
Nonetheless, they sit atop a competitive NL Central with an 11-7 record and have the second-best run differential in the NL at +24.
The Brewers are without many of their offensive stars yet have managed to put forth one of the best teams early this season.