Major League Baseball's biggest first half surprises

Profile Picture: Andrew Champagne

June 29th, 2021

We’re almost at the halfway point of the 2021 MLB season, and there’s been a lot to digest. Between team achievements (or lack thereof), individual feats, and, yes, the controversies surrounding the use of certain substances by pitchers, it’s been a busy year to this point.

Here are some of the biggest surprises of the 2021 campaign to date!

5. Road woes for the Diamondbacks and Orioles

We’ll begin with the futilities surrounding Arizona and Baltimore. The Diamondbacks went 24 games (and more than two months) between road wins, finally snapping that skid with a 10-1 win at San Diego on June 26.

Meanwhile, the Orioles had a similar streak that reached 20 games before they topped the Toronto Blue Jays 6-5 on June 25.

4. DeGrom powers Mets to NL East lead

Otherworldly righty Jacob DeGrom has been the most dominant pitcher in baseball this year, and it’s not particularly close. With 122 strikeouts in 78 innings, an ERA of 0.69, and a WHIP of 0.53 (yes, you read all of that correctly), he’s turning the race for the NL Cy Young Award into a walkover.

How good have Met pitchers been? Consider this: Despite batting just .228 as a team and recording 104 more strikeouts than hits, New York leads the NL East by two games.

3. Giants surprise Dodgers, Padres in NL West

Baseball pundits speculated the NL West would be interesting, but much of the preseason attention swirled around the L.A. Dodgers and San Diego Padres. However, it’s the San Francisco Giants who are 50-28, boast baseball’s best record, and lead the division by 2.5 games over the reigning champs.

National League West 2021

Sun, October 3 2021, 5:00 PM

Los Angeles Dodgers


San Diego Padres


San Francisco Giants


Arizona Diamondbacks


Colorado Rockies


In any other year, starter Kevin Gausman would be garnering Cy Young consideration, and veteran catcher Buster Posey has shown he still has more gas left in the tank.

2. Guerrero Jr. follows in dad’s footsteps

We’ve seen flashes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s immense talent before, but he’s put it all together in his third season with Toronto. He’s hitting .342 with 26 home runs, 66 RBIs, and a whopping 1.127 OPS.

The younger Guerrero has turned into one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the sport, and he’d be the leading American League Most Valuable Player candidate by daylight if not for…

1. The two-way dominance of Shohei Ohtani

There’s no individual story in baseball bigger than Ohtani, who has turned his massive two-way potential into one of the most noteworthy first halves in recent MLB history. As of this writing, he’s tied for the MLB lead with 26 home runs at the plate, and he’s also racked up 82 strikeouts in just 59 1/3 innings pitched.

Ohtani would be an All-Star as either a hitter or a pitcher, and it seems like we’ve seen something remarkable from him every week.