The Atlanta Braves – Not only dominating the National League, but baseball as a whole, the Braves finished out their first 21 games with a stunning .714 winning percentage – that is the winning rate of the two best teams in history – the 1906 Cubs and the 2001 Mariners, who each won 116 games over the season. They’re now at .654.Their Achilles’ Heel may be the lack of a dedicated lead-off hitter. Naming the first batter in their lineup this season has been a game of musical chairs, and the players put in this position have combined for just a .195 average with a .268 on-base percentage this year so far. Not good.
The Boston Red Sox – The Red Sox are sitting with a .692 winning percentage after 26 games. If they could keep up that torrid pace, they would finish the season with 110 wins to their credit – 41 more than they won last year. Pitchers Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester have been phenomenal so far, but that winning rate seems to be unsustainable. Even as Buchholz’s ERA climbs above one for the first time this season, their bullpen continues to shine with strong performances so far from Andrew Bailey and Junichi Tazawa.
The Texas Rangers – Texas is boasting a 17-9 record after their first 26 games. This puts them ahead of the A’s, who started the year playing unbelievably good baseball. As of last night, the team has won four of their last six games. Like many previous incarnations of the Rangers, this Texas team is packed to the gills with great offense, belting the team up the standings.
The Colorado Rockies – This is a team that competes year after year, despite their small budget. As we saw in their magnificent run to the world series in 2007, the Rockies play good fundamental baseball. This young, athletic team is doing it once again, leading the National League West with their .615 winning percentage at 26 games into the season.
The St. Louis Cardinals – The Cardinals are perched on top of the National League Central division, with a 15-11 record at the end of 26 games. Their powerful hitting trio of Molina, Beltran and Holliday are all batting around .300, providing the RedBirds with a powerful punch.
There is a principle in baseball known as a regression to the mean. What this means is that teams or players who are playing extremely well will tend to get worse over time, and those playing poorly will tend to get better as the season progresses. Although these teams, even this early in the season, are off to a great start, the chances of any city ending the season with 110 or 116 wins is highly unlikely.