Though they still have a mathematical chance to make the playoffs — or even finish with the best record in MLB history, if you’re really optimistic — odds are the Detroit Tigers will be sitting at home for their fifth October in a row. They were projected to finish last by multiple outlets prior to the start of the season, and after a plucky start, have already fallen 10 games under .500. While we will undoubtedly accept a shocking turnaround that puts them into the Wild Card game (or better), Tigers fans will likely be finding another team to cheer for when October rolls around.
There is plenty of time to find the right bandwagon to hitch onto once all of the different playoff races around baseball are decided, but why wait? Nearly everyone is still in it at this point, so why not follow along and see if the early upstarts can keep it going throughout the 2019 season?
That brings us to our Question of the Day.
Which surprise contender are you rooting for this season?
My answer: As fun as it would be to draw a bunch of hate-clicks by naming the Minnesota Twins, I have to go with the San Diego Padres. They took a page out of Milwaukee’s book in jumping at an opportunity laid out in front of them when they signed Manny Machado late in the offseason, and doubled down on their aggressiveness by promoting shortstop prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. at the start of the season — essentially turning their nose up at the service time manipulation so many other teams willingly engage in to keep a star prospect around for an extra season (looking at you, Blue Jays).
It hasn’t stopped there for San Diego, though. The Padres are three games above .500 this year, and currently hold the National League’s second Wild Card slot. They will have to fend off a plethora of teams throughout the year, especially if the Dodgers run away with the NL West, but the Padres have plenty of young talent — Luis Urias hasn’t even made it to the majors yet — along with a strong bullpen (Kirby Yates leads baseball with 22 saves).
Plus, who didn’t love this?