The Red Sox are among those wondering what has happened since the first lineup card landed just a few months ago.
But several teams have performed far above expectations, leaving their fans with plenty to root for entering the final month of the season as the remaining contenders make their playoff pushes.
In the American League East, the Baltimore Orioles continue to combine luck, spunk and flat-out solid play as they chase down the Yankees for the top spot in the division. The Birds are 73-58 coming into Saturday's contest (two games behind New York), with two games left this weekend against the Bombers — meaning the East could be tied by the end of the series. The Orioles are 55-0 when they lead after seven innings this year, a pretty good way to ensure victories.
Across the American League, another team that hasn't smelled success for a few years is also putting together quite the run, albeit at the behest of the hometown Sox. The A's have posted a 74-57 record going into Saturday, good for third overall in the American League (although it's second in the American League West behind the Texas Rangers). The A's can thank a combination of daring trades and high-performing call-ups for most of their success so far.
In American League Central, the Chicago White Sox — picked to fold this season after a down year and the departure of manager Ozzie Guillen and starter Mark Buehrle to Miami — have managed to beat back challengers in their division. They lead the Tigers by two games going into Saturday, and with a 72-59 record, they're in good standing for the wild card, too, if Detroit makes a run for the division.
The National League also has two big surprises this year: the Nationals and Pirates. While both clubs have had great, rising players and shown promise in years past, no one would believe either was for real until they sustained their success for a whole season. Both Washington (80-51) and Pittsburgh (70-61) have done that this year, with the Nats riding young talent and the Bucs fighting for a National League wild card behind Andrew McCutchen.
Elsewhere in the National League, Cincinnati has had a renaissance behind Joey Votto and the division-leading Reds (81-52), who have quietly built the best record in all of baseball.
It's quite the competition — but which team has had the most surprising year?
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