Now that we are nearing the end of the first month of the season, let’s take an early look at the biggest surprises so far. Who has come sprinting out of the gates?
Well, let’s take a look.
2016 Biggest Surprise Players
Yes, the same Daniel Murphy who was the new “Mr. October” in last year’s playoffs. Murphy signed with the Nationals in the off-season and has been huge for the team with the best record in the National League, and in the entire Major Leagues so far. Murphy has adjusted well to his new home, and it certainly helps that he hits behind sensation Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman in the Nats order.
Murphy’s numbers so far are mind-boggling. He has posted a .422 batting average and a .714 slugging percentage to go with his .500 OBP. Those numbers already are staggering, even though only fourteen games have been played. He has twenty-one hits in forty-nine at-bats, a pair of home runs, four doubles, and two triples, with eight RBI.
Those are insane numbers, and Murphy leads the entire MLB in batting average, a whole thirty points ahead of Manny Machado. Murphy is on fire, and the New York Mets are probably wondering why they let him go, especially to a division rival. Just for perspective, Murphy is hitting .429, while teammate Bryce Harper has a .327 batting average so far this season. If Murphy keeps this up, and the Nationals keep it up, Washington might be on a crash course for a trip to the World Series.
Segura is cemented atop the Diamondbacks lineup, and has lived up to expectations, to say the least. The 26-year-old shortstop has a .339 batting average thus far, and is tied with Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez for most hits this season with twenty in 14 games. He also has three home runs and eight RBI as a lead-off hitter. Segura had two homers in one game, including the (in)famous inside-the-park home run that unfortunately ended Cubs OF Kyle Schwarber’s season. Segura is a stud with the bat, and Arizona has found their lead-off hitter for the next few years, at least.
This list can’t be complete without the never-ending Story: Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story. The 23-year-old started the season because of Jose Reyes’ suspension, and the Rockies have certainly forgotten about Reyes. Story has an MLB-leading eight homers this season through fourteen games. In fact, Story just has seventeen hits in fifty-seven at-bats, which is only good for a .288 batting average. But when almost half of those hits are home runs, that’s something to talk about. Story also has twelve extra base hits and fourteen RBI.
Story caught everybody’s attention when he hit an MLB-record seven homers in the first six games of the year. Seven! In six games! Who does that? Well, nobody, apparently. Regardless of playing in high altitude in Denver or not, it’s nothing short of remarkable. Nobody knows what Story has in store for the rest of the season, but it’s certainly an amazing start to his young career.
Nobody has been more impressive to start the year than Jordan Zimmerman. Zimmerman left the Nationals to sign a hefty deal with the Detroit Tigers, and has earned every dollar so far. The veteran right-hander has thrown 19.1 scoreless innings to start the 2016 season, and has an unbelievable 0.00 ERA. Zimmerman has allowed fifteen hits total, and is 3-0 to start the year. The Tigers struck gold, and if Zimmerman can pitch like this all season long, the Tigers will certainly remain a factor in the American League Central.
If you don’t know this name, you will soon enough. Maeda came over from Japan after spending eight seasons overseas, and signed an eight-year, $25 million deal with the Dodgers that is full of incentives. Maeda is certainly showing he’s perhaps one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, and with Kershaw and Kazmir at the top of the order, the Dodgers don’t miss Zack Greinke one bit.
Maeda has been dominant, and even that is an understatement. The 28-year-old threw identical six-innings, five-hit shutout appearances in his first two starts. In his third start, he finally gave up a run, going seven innings with just four hits and one run allowed to give him an ERA of 0.47 on the year. Maeda even hit a home run in his first major league game against the Padres, where he also got his first big league victory. What a debut for Maeda. If he can keep this up, the Dodgers might be headed to the top of the National League West.
Lastly, and perhaps the most surprising. The man had a 6.66 ERA last season with the Dodgers in six starts, and a 4.48 ERA withe the Marlins in 2015 in sixteen starts. Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need, and nobody agrees more with that statement than Latos himself.
Mat has been incredible so far this season. In a small sample size, the new White Sox pitcher is 3-0 with a 0.49 ERA in three starts. Latos has gone six innings in each of his starts, and only surrendered one hit, three hits, and two hits, respectively. Latos is now in his fifth different uniform since 2011, and Chicago has treated him well so far. Latos’ best season in his career was in a San Diego Padres uniform in 2010, when he posted a 14-10 record with a 2.92 ERA in thirty-one games at pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Latos is the biggest surprise so far in this young season, because who would’ve thought the guy who had a 6.66 ERA last year would be this good early on? Nobody, except maybe Mat himself.
The season is young, but these players have shown their worth so far. We will see if they can keep it up as the season goes along.