The 2021 MLB season has been full of surprises through the month of May.
Some teams have been better than we thought they would be, while others have largely disappointed so far.
Here are the most surprising storylines of the campaign as we get to the one-third point.
3. The Twins Debacle
The Minnesota Twins entered the 2021 MLB season with high hopes after making several postseason appearances in the last few years.
They were considered, along with the Chicago White Sox, as the favorites to win the American League Central Division.
At the very least, they were viewed as significantly better than the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals, and most experts picked them ahead of the Cleveland Indians, too.
However, the year has been a nightmare for the Twins, as they are 21-31, dead last in their division.
They are currently surging, however, winning seven out of their last 10 games and currently awaiting for their best position player, Byron Buxton, and their top starting pitcher, Kenta Maeda, to come off the injured list.
Byron Buxton has been swinging in the cages for a few days, and Rocco says Buxton could start a rehab assignment towards the end of this week if running progresses well.
Would start with a game at DH, move to one or more games in the field, and then he could rejoin #MNTwins.
— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) May 24, 2021
Both should return at some point in June, thus increasing Minnesota’s chances to climb back to playoff contention.
However, there is no denying that their current position is among the most surprising storylines of the 2021 MLB season.
2. The Rays Remain Elite
The Tampa Bay Rays were a powerhouse last season, winning 40 out of 60 games and taking the American League East division with a seven-game lead.
They made it all the way to the World Series, but ultimately lost.
However, they are back at it, currently showing a sparkling 34-20 record that is the best in the American League.
They have managed to replace Morton and Snell’s quality innings by getting the best out of veterans such as Rich Hill and Michael Wacha, and young guns such as Josh Fleming, Tyler Glasnow, Luis Patino, and others.
Tampa has a very good bullpen and a sneaky good offense.
They may not have the payroll flexibility of other teams, but more than make that up with savvy planning, excellent player development skills, and an eye for getting value in trades.
In other words, Tampa should remain extremely competitive in 2021 and well beyond.
1. The Giants Ascent In The NL West
The Los Angeles Dodgers added Trevor Bauer to an already rock-solid rotation.
But so far, the most quietly dominant team out of the National League West division has been the San Francisco Giants.
The Padres are leading the division with a 34-20 record as of Monday morning, but the Giants are only 0.5 games behind, and they are both ahead of the Dodgers.
• Kevin Gausman left his start early today with left hip tightness, but he expects to make his next start
He earned a 6.0 IP, 2 H, 7 K line today (34% whiff, 43% CSW)
He’s allowed 0 ER with a 24:0 K:BB over his last 3 starts (17.0 IP)
He’s approaching low-end SP2 status
— Fantasy Central (@FantasyCentral1) May 31, 2021
The Giants took three out of the four games they played against the Dodgers this past weekend, and their position in the standings, along with the fact that they are going to get to June in the thick of things, is both surprising and impressive.
Led by Kevin Gausman’s incredible season (1.40 ERA in 70.2 innings) and Buster Posey’s improbable renaissance (.331/.415/.613 with 10 homers), the Giants are threatening to make the race for the NL West much more interesting than we initially thought it would be.NEXT: Can Mets Star Noah Syndergaard Ever Return To His Old Form?