The Mets aren't the only team this year with unexpected success
The Mets aren't the only team that has found unlikely success this season. While the Amazin's have received most of the attention in New York for exceeding expectations, these three teams have also been punching above their weight. Can they keep it up in the second half?
Led by its baby-faced duo of pitcher Stephen Strasburg, 23, and rightfielder Bryce Harper, 19, the Nationals have stormed to the top of the hypercompetitive NL East. With a below-average payroll ($81.3 million, 20th in the majors, according to the USA Today) and the third-youngest roster, the Nats are built for the future.
Can they keep it up? That's a clown question, bro, as Harper would say. Get used to seeing the Nationals at the top of the NL East.
Chicago White Sox
Former Met and Yankee Robin Ventura was the surprise choice to manage the White Sox, who haven't made the playoffs since 2008 and weren't expected to make it back this season. But the South Siders have taken advantage of division favorite Detroit's struggles to top a weak AL Central. A resurgent Alex Rios (.318, 12 HR, 49 RBI) and the ageless Paul Konerko (hitting .329 at age 36) have helped the White Sox to a 47-38 record and a three-game lead over Cleveland (another surprise) at the break.
Can they keep it up? As long as Justin Verlander doesn't start every game for the Tigers (we're not ruling it out), Chicago is the favorite in the Central.
Newsflash: Andrew McCutchen can play. The long-hair-don't-care centerfielder leads the Pirates in just about every offensive category (batting average, homers, RBI, OBP, OPS, NRA) to carry his team to the top of the NL Central.
Can they keep it up? Cincinnati and St. Louis are breathing down the Pirates' neck, and both have more depth (but less McCutchen). Also, they rely on A.J. Burnett (10-2, 3.68 ERA so far), which Yankee fans will tell you is never a good bet.