I know there were people who predicted the Mets would do well this year.
I was not one of them. (Funny that this year I was particularly down on both the Mets and the Jets, and they've both given me way better seasons than I expected.)
But isn't that the way it is every year? Surprises, disappointments, great stories - what follows is my assessment of the first half of the baseball season, both from around the majors and at Citi Field.
MOST SURPRISING (TEAM):
There are a couple of candidates here - but I'm going with the San Diego Padres. I'd be shocked if anyone had picked them to do well, let alone lead the National League West most of the first half of the season. I don't think the Reds are surprising because I've been expecting this from them for years
...and I did pick the Rangers to make it to the World Series
...so I'm not surprised by the AL West
. You shouldn't be, either, if you read my picks.
MOST SURPRISING (PLAYER - METS): I guess Angel Pagan fits this bill, though moreso by the fact that he has stayed healthy as long as he has filling in for Carlos Beltran. Pagan has shown flashes in the past of being this good - but those flashes are only flashes because he has never gone a long stretch with the Mets without getting hurt. Thank goodness he has stayed healthy so far this year - he's helped keep the Mets in contention.
MOST SURPRISING (PLAYER - MLB): While it's tempting here to say "anyone on the Padres", I'll go with Ubaldo Jimenez. It's not that he shouldn't have been expected to be good - it's just that he has been ridiculously good. 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA? Wow. I also heard an argument for him as MVP - it's hard to not agree - the Rockies are 34-38 in games he hasn't started. (For the record, if I was picking MVPs at this point, mine would be David Wright. Just because he plays every day and he has been so constant in their lineup, while everyone else has been streaky. Without him, the Mets would be toast.)
MOST DISAPPOINTING (TEAM):
I think almost everywhere you're going to read about the most disappointing team being the Seattle Mariners. I wish I could say I'm surprised by their performance, but I'm not. (Well, a little - I didn't think they'd be this bad.) But I certainly am disappointed - I would have liked to have seen that franchise succeed
. And I'll add here that I am really disappointed in the Cubs this year.
MOST DISAPPOINTING (PLAYER - METS): A few candidates here, but I'd have to say John Maine. Oliver Perez you don't have high expectations for...John Maine you do. Or at least, you did. Probably never again. Even before he had an official injury he just didn't seem healthy.
MOST DISAPPOINTING (PLAYER - MLB): It's really hard to focus in on one "Most Disappointing" player, but with all that has gone on in Chicago, what about Carlos Zambrano? When he was starting he was hardly effective, and most of the year he hasn't been starting because he was relegated to the bullpen, and then was suspended by the team. Yeah, I guess he fits the bill here.
BEST STORIES: I originally wanted to focus on R.A. Dickey here, but I love the resurgence of Joey Votto, too. And it's great, after he was touted as having had a very good winter ball season, that Fausto Carmona carried that success into the Major League season.
The great thing about all this, though? This story's only half-told. Just a couple of more days until the rest of the story unfolds.