By Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network
I have the standings in front of me, trying to establish some of the season’s surprises as far as teams go, as we head into the final stretch.
What has to impress me and a lot of other people is the grit of the Blue Jays, bearing in mind the franchise has not gone to the post-season since 1993. So you have to say that what they have done is the biggest surprise of the season in the majors.
Like the 1994 Expos, who were running away with the National League East when the players’ strike began, the Jays are in a similar spot. Like those Expos, these Jays were in a bit of a rut before the all-star break but since then, they have been a potent team. Like those Expos, these Jays have the offence, defence and the pitching.
So what other teams do we see that have surprised many? For much of the season, a big surprise for me was the Houston Astros but they have fallen out of first place. Even the Texas Rangers, who have overtaken the Astros, are surprises.
How about the Chicago Cubs under new skipper Joe Maddon, who should be the NL manager of the year? The Cubs were a franchise going nowhere before Maddon arrived to put his stamp on the team.
How about the New York Mets? They started solidly, went into a semi-dive and then recovered to be solid again in the NL East with an almost insurmountable lead on the Nationals.
The St. Louis Cardinals? They have been an eye-opening team for a number of years, a dynasty of sorts under manager Mike Matheny so they are not really surprising.
Same goes for the Kansas City Royals. They made it to the 2014 World Series and have come back as a powerhouse this season so you can’t really say they are a surprise.