Three First Half Surprises

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images North America/TNS

Three days away from the All-Star break, we find ourselves in a season full of surprises. Like every season, there have been a few things that might make you scratch your head and wonder, “how did that happen?” Let’s take a look at the three biggest so far.

3. Baltimore Orioles

Perhaps the hottest topic in baseball right now has been the Baltimore Orioles. Currently riding a ten-game winning streak, the Orioles find themselves at 45-44, and only 1.5 games back of a wildcard spot. Not many could say they saw this coming, as the latest date the Orioles have been at .500 or better in the previous three seasons has been April 10th. Yet here we are on June 15th and the Orioles are sitting one game over .500. So what has been the difference? Well, things have finally started coming together, with contributions coming from all over the roster, particularly the bullpen. Over the past ten games, Baltimore has had the seventh-best bullpen ERA, sitting at 2.93. This is largely thanks to Jorge Lopez, who has been a surprise himself, posting a 1.70 ERA in 42.1 innings pitched so far this season.

The bullpen hasn’t been the only thing clicking for the Orioles, as they have also found solid results from their core players. There hasn’t really been one player standing out, but they have received solid numbers from Ryan Mountcastle, Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Trey Mancini, and rookie Adley Rutschman. The core has found a way to click together, which has led to success. We discussed potential deadline plans for the Orioles earlier this week, and it seems the surprises could keep coming from Baltimore.

2. Tony Gonsolin(SP)-Los Angeles Dodgers

Talk about a breakout campaign. Gonsolin has emerged as one of the game’s best pitchers, if not the best so far this season, posting a 2.02 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 86 strikeouts, to go along with his dazzling 11-0 record. Gonsolin has shown signs of promise in the past, however, he took things to the next level this year. In his first season entirely as a starting pitcher, Gonsolin has also earned his first All-Star nod, in which he will potentially start, and if things keep up through the second half, will surely find himself in the Cy-Young conversation. It seems the Dodgers have found yet another ace.

1. Brandon Drury(2B,3B,OF)-Cincinnati Reds

Nobody saw this season coming from Drury. The veteran utility man/journeyman has been average if not replaceable for the most part of his career, except for this year. In what should have been an All-Star season, Drury has slashed to the tune of .279/.336/.532 to go along with his 55 runs, 51 RBI, and 18 homers. To put things in context, in his previous 7 seasons in the league Drury has averaged roughly 27 RBI, 23 runs, and 7 long balls. Drury has already hit a career-high in home runs and looks to do so in just about every offensive category by the end of the season. Whatever happened to Drury in Cincinnati has drastically turned him around, making him one of the biggest surprises of the season so far. Drury has turned into a solid trade chip for the Reds before this summer’s deadline and has impressed many.

Honorable Mentions: Sandy Alcantara, Chicago White Sox, Julio Rodriguez, Joey Gallo, C.J. Cron.

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