MLB: Surprising Start to the 2023 Season

The Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates are off to a hot start to the 2023 MLB season.

The 2023 Major League Baseball season has begun and with teams about 20 games in, there have been plenty surprises. The standings as of April 27th consist of two very surprising teams at the top. The Pittsburgh Pirates, at 17-8, and the Tampa Bay Rays, at 20-5. The Pittsburgh Pirates play in the National League Central divison, while the Tampa Bay Rays play in the American League East division. Well, what has the reason behind their success been?

Pirates Infield coach Joey Cora hits ground balls to his infielders.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been off to their first winning start in the first twenty games of the season since the 2010 season, and there have been many reasons behind their winning methods. The main reason is longtime Pirate Andrew McCutchen has returned to where he played his first ever MLB game, Pittsburgh. While Andrew is only on a one-year contract, he has not disappointed. McCutchen is batting with a .310 batting average, and four homeruns already to begin the season. McCutchen was not the only veteran added to the Pirates roster, as veteran first baseman Carlos Santana was also signed to a one-year deal, and he has made presence in the lineup.

Another reason for their success has been strong starting pitching from a pitching staff that was expected to produce absolutely nothing, but have two beasts in Mitch Keller and Roansy Contreras, both being heard around the league. The last reason behind the early winning ways of the Pirates is the young players have taken their roles on the team, perhaps sooner than expected. Rodolfo Castro, the Pirates new shortstop after stud Oneill Cruz got hurt in a collision at home plate and is out for 12 weeks, Castro has taken over very comfortably. The Pirates currently sit at 17-8, atop of their very underrated National League Central division.

Tampa Bay Rays reliever Jose Alvarado pitches for the Rays.

On the other side of the league, the American League East Tampa Bay Rays started their season off hotter than almost any team ever has, winning a jaw dropping 13 games in a row, right out of the gates. Through the 13-game win streak, the Rays managed to score 101 runs, and only strikeout 94 times, which is a close to impossible stat. The Rays needed to win one more game to set the new record for most consecutive wins to start the season, with the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers and 1982 Atlanta Braves having 13 also. Unfortunately, The Rays would fall on the road to division rival Toronto Blue Jays, to lose their first game of the season on April 14th. However, this would not stop the Rays from their winning ways.

The Rays would not lose a single home game until April 25th, winning 15 home games in a row to start the season, setting even more records. Tampa Bay was not a team many thoughts would have this much success, as they have always been coached well by Manager Kevin Cash, but their roster has never had many big names. So far, the clear standout bat for the Rays is Randy Arozarena, batting with a .341 batting average to start the season. Tampa Bay plays in a very competitive division, with the Yankees, Orioles, Red Sox, and Blue Jays. They currently sit at 20-5, 4 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for first place.