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It's not how you start

What we've learned

By Phil Alexander
On April 15, 2011


Some baseball teams that are on a hot streak in April do not always stay hot until October.

            As it stands, the American League (AL) divisional leaders are the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, and Texas Rangers. The National League (NL) divisional leaders are the Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, and Colorado Rockies.

            So what does MLB history say about teams that lead their respective division early into the season? Last season, two of the six divisional leaders (the Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins) won the division after leading it through the month of April.

            The same can be said for the 2009 season. After one month of baseball, only the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers maintained success by winning the NL Central and NL West divisions, respectively.

            The trend was a little different in the 2008 season. As of May 1, 2008, four divisional leaders went on to win the division at the end of the regular season.

            Some surprising teams have started strong out of the gate in the 2011 regular season. Young teams like Baltimore and Cleveland have impressed with great hitting and some timely pitching. Even the Texas Rangers, a team that represented the American League in the World Series last season, have started better than many experts expected.

            As always, some teams that have started poorly were not expected to do so. The Boston Red Sox, a team which owns the second-highest payroll in baseball, is off to a slow start. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays have struggled to find much offense despite a young, potent pitching staff.

            Even the Minnesota Twins, a team that won the AL Central last season, is off to a slow start. Unlike Boston and Tampa Bay, Minnesota did not lose or add many players from last season's roster.

            Recent history has been inconsistent when factoring in fast starts to an MLB season. That is because a baseball season is 162 games long, which makes it more of a marathon than a sprint.

The fast start by some teams in the MLB can be attributed to youth and energy that those teams have. Meanwhile, some veteran teams may take awhile to find a groove and get in the swing of things by the later months of the regular season.

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