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MLB Mid-Season Review: 7 Surprise Team Overachievers

The first half of the 2023 MLB season has been interesting to say the least. Teams getting off to historic starts, players on a season record pace and more. Some of those trends have slowed down, but some teams have caught the Chefs’ eyes. Here are 7 of the most surprising teams in our MLB Mid-Season Review.

We have looked at their preseason win total according to CBS Sports, their current record coming into Monday and their updated projected win total. Let’s dive in!

Tampa Bay Rays

Preseason Win Total: 88.5

Current Record: 57-30

Projected Wins: 108 wins

randy arozarena tampa bay rays

Photo Credit: GettyImages

It’s hard not to start this list without the best team in the American League. By mid-May, the Rays were on pace for a record 126 wins, but they cooled off as I suspected they would. Falling off to a projected 108 wins according to Bleacher Report is hardly falling off a cliff. The Ray are playing terrific baseball and are still arguably the best team in the league.

One of the biggest issues with this team is their hitting. I suspected they would struggle to hit this season but they led MLB with 61 home runs through May. But since then, the Rays have only belted 25 homers in June. They lead the league in homers and stolen bases (the stolen base is back!), but this is why I thought they were a 3rd place team this year. They have to get the power back if they want to make a deep run to the World Series.

As far as pitching goes, they could be in trouble as P Shane McClanahan has hit the IL with a back. They already lost Jeffrey Springs for the season to Tommy John injury and Drew Rasmussen hasn’t progressed like they have hoped since he hit the IL 2 months ago. It’ll be interesting to see if the Rays are buyers at the trade deadline, as this team rarely buys anything.

Cincinnati Reds

Preseason Win Total: 65.5

Current Record: 45-39

Projected Wins: 82 wins

elly de la cruz cincinnati reds

Photo Credit: GettyImages

It’s easy to say that this team changed when the prized rookie prospect Elly De La Cruz got the call to the big leagues on June 6. But the Reds were actually playing some good baseball before that, going 7-5 before the rookie's call up. I know, 7-5 is not on the Rays’ level, but they were near the bottom of the league and without the veteran Joey Votto. But since adding De La Cruz, they have gone 17-5 and look like the most exciting team in baseball.

The pitching is still a struggle for me and will not be good enough to make a deep run. While they are 2nd in the league in Saves, they have a 4.98 ERA (good for 27th in the league) and a 1.45 WHIP (26th in the league). They are simply outsourcing teams at this point to get those wins, but that won’t last in the playoffs.

I’m not sure if they have enough to win the NL Central with that pitching staff unless they make a few trades. I think patience will be the name of the game for the front office, but this is an exciting team to watch right now. My bet is this team sneaks into the playoffs as the last Wild Card team.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Preseason Win Total: 75.5

Current Record: 50-35

Projected Wins: 92 wins

corbin caroll arizona diamondbacks

Photo Credit: GettyImages

I have to say the DiamondBacks are the biggest surprise in the NL, even ahead of the feel good story brewing in Cincinnati. But the D-Backs are the 1st NL West team to win 50 games with the Padres and Dodgers as the heavy early season favorites. The D-Backs pulled ahead of the Dodgers to take first place in June and haven’t looked back.

Ketel Marte has turned the clock back to look like the player that was an NL MVP candidate in 2019. But it’s rookie sensation Corbin Carroll who has become a serious NL MVP candidate this season. Carroll is batting .290 with 17 HRs and 24 stolen bases on his way to his first All-Star game. This D-Backs team isn’t being carried by the Marte/Corbin duo, as they are 4th in the league in hitting at .261 BA.

But this is another team that will live or die by their pitching. Losing Merrill Kelly to the IR with a blood clot is not going to help their second half push. It sounds like there’s no time table for his return and that’s a big problem. The D-backs were definitely going to be buyers at the trade deadline for 1 starting pitcher. But now they might need to add 2 starters, and I’m not sure if they are willing to pay that price in a limited sellers market.

Texas Rangers

Preseason Win Total: 82.5

Current Record: 50-34

Projected Wins: 103 wins

corey seager texas rangers

Photo Credit: GettyImages

This was a team that many thought could be a sneak OVER pick because of the moves they made in the offseason. But this team has been better than advertised so far, and honestly their record should be higher if you look at their run differential statistics. That's because they have a potent offense that just blows everyone out.

The Rangers are 23-0 when scoring 8+ runs as they sport the league’s best offense with a .274 team batting average. They are 6th in the league in home runs and 3rd in the league in slugging. Nathaniel Lowe is batting .272 with 8 home runs, and Adolis Garcia leads the team int home runs (20) and RBIs (67). They are sending 4 All-Star starters to Seattle; catcher Jonah Heim, 2B Marcus Semien, 3B Josh Jung and SS Corey Seager.

I honestly thought losing Jacob DeGrom to Tommy John was going to be a huge blow. But this team has weathered the storm with Nathan Eovaldi leading the team in wins (10), ERA (2.64 ERA), and strikeouts (106 Ks). Trading for Aroldis Chapman was a huge upgrade (if he can be the dominate pitcher we know he can be. The bullpen is the one weakness this team has and they are looking to address it. I think as the deadline approaches, the Rangers will add one more reliever to take control of AL West.

Baltimore Orioles

Preseason Win Total: 76.5

Current Record: 49-33

Projected Wins: 90 wins

Anthony Santander baltimore orioles

Photo Credit: GettyImages

It’s hard to have this team on this list coming off losing 4 in their last 5 games. But this was only the Orioles’ 2nd three-game losing streak all season. This is how good this Baltimore club has been all season, as they’d would be in first place if not for those meddling Rays.

The O’s have been the most consistent team this season, never too high or too low with wins/losses. Their run differential is likely the reason the O's haven’t been able to catch the Rays, but they are still on track to a top 5 finish in all of baseball. The team .249 batting average is a big reason why they can’t get over the hump. I expect the Orioles to add a bat at the deadline.

Gunnar Henderson is turning into a legitimate star, but Austin Hays and Anthony Santander are pacing this ballclub. The pitching is also middle of the pack as they are 17th in ERA at 4.25 and 19th in WHIP at 1.25. Despite that, I love their story and believe they'll stay on that track to a postseason berth.

Miami Marlins

Preseason Win Total: 76.5

Current Record: 48-37

Projected Wins: 85 wins

luis arraez miami marlins

Photo Credit: GettyImages

The Marlins were a playoff team 2 years ago in that COVID-shortened season, but had completely fell off. They fell to the point that Derek Jeter wanted out because of the lack of spending. But one thing this team does well is draft and develop young talent, and this team is now in the thick of a playoff chase.

But while the Marlins have gone 23-10 since May 26 led by Luiz Arraez’s .389 batting average. Arraez’s hot start is good enough to earn him an All-Star spot. The biggest issue for me is that they have been owned by the Atlanta Braves so far this season, going 1-9.

Another issue is that their star OF Jazz Chisholm Jr. is headed back to the IL with an oblique strain. THey must have him healthy to make a serious playoff push. I doubt the Marlins will be buyers at the deadline but the team’s record might push the organization to be a serious buyer at the trade deadline.

San Francisco Giants

Preseason Win Total: 81.5

Current Record: 46-38

Projected Wins: 89 wins

patrick bailey san francisco giants

Photo Credit: GettyImages

One thing I know about baseball is you can never count the San Francisco Giants out. Every time you think they're finally dead, they come back to life. The Giants were 17-23 and could score enough runs to make a serious move. But since, they've gone 29-14 with a plus-67 run differential and just continuing to climb the standings.

Pitching has definitely been key to their rise as they are 10th in ERA at 3.95 and 13th in WHIP at 1.26. They have a decent offense that averages 4.8 runs per game on a .249 team batting average.

Their offense needs a boost at the deadline by picking up another outfielder and probably another starting pitcher wouldn’t hurt. But they have one of if not the best bullpen in baseball to make them a serious contender in the NL.

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