4 Early Surprises in the 2014 MLB Season

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Major League Baseball is officially one month into the new season. While 2014 as a whole had a bumpy start (there was still snow on the ground in a lot of ballparks on Opening Day), now that it’s in full swing, you realize why it’s America’s pastime. There have been walkoff home runs, pitching duels, and just all-around good baseball. But there have also been some surprising developments in this young 162-game season.

Keep in mind that a lot can happen — we’re barely even one-sixth into the 2014 season. What might be a new revelation now could end next week. And besides a slew of injuries that are always occurring and are always just a game away, the surprises this year have been more about the players on the field and what they have accomplished thus far — or not accomplished, in some cases. There will be slumps,and there will be hot streaks: it’s the ones that maintain those hot streaks that are the true surprises. So without further ado, here are four surprises from baseball’s first month.

1. The Royals’ pitching staff

When Kansas City traded for James Shields two years ago, the team was taking a strong stance to shore up its pitching staff and become a contender. Shields would become the Royals’ No. 1 starter in the rotation – in other words, their ace. He currently is that: he’s 3-2 on the year with a 2.03 earned run average. The Royals’ pitching starts and ends with Shields, but that was expected.

The surprise comes from the rest of the rotation. The Royals have three of the top-10 ERAs in the American League. Jason Vargas is 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA and an even more impressive 1.09 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched). While Vargas has never been a slouch, these numbers aren’t the norm – just look at his career 4.22 ERA. Even ahead of Vargas is rookie Yordano Ventura, a player who’s been a true surprise, since he was relatively unknown on the national stage. In his first four starts, he has a 2-1 record and 1.80 ERA.

Sure, some of these numbers won’t hold for the entire season, but regardless of future expectations, the Royals currently have one of the best starting rotations in the majors. Veteran Jeremy Guthrie currently brings up the backside of the rotation, and despite his 4.22 ERA, his 2-1 record and 1.28 WHIP are more than adequate. This doesn’t appear to be a onetime event – the Royals are here to stay, and they’ve got the pitching to do it.

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