And, we've had enough time to make the following observations that have gone beyond the it's-still-early category:
AL MVP: When you're a couple of batting average points from having a Triple Crown winner, this one is obvious. Josh Hamilton is the best player on what clearly has been baseball's best team. Not to ignore the great starts for Paul Konerko and Adam Jones, though. Konerko actually led Hamilton in batting average and on-base percentage through Wednesday.
NL MVP: It was unanimously Matt Kemp in April. Then he slumped, went on the disabled list and the Dodgers won six in a row without him. So at this point, we'll go with David Wright, who through Thursday had the remarkable slash line of .405/.500/.628 in leading the surprising Mets.
AL Cy Young: Nothing mysterious here - Justin Verlander is first or second in the AL in innings, strikeouts, ERA, WHIP and wins. Much more surprising are the great first two months of Jake Peavy, Derek Lowe, Brandon Morrow and Chris Sale.
HBT Extra: Milestone predictions David Ortiz aims for 400 homers and Derek Jeter chases hitting legends, while Albert Pujols and A-Rod struggle.
HBT Extra: Milestone predictions
David Ortiz aims for 400 homers and Derek Jeter chases hitting legends, while Albert Pujols and A-Rod struggle.
AL Manager of the Year: It can only be Buck Showalter, as the Orioles were a near-unanimous spring choice for another last-place finish in the AL East. Nobody knows how long they can hang around, but there are enough positive signs throughout the organization for legitimate optimism. This also could be the year Manny Acta gets his due, while Joe Maddon remains the most interesting manager in the world.
NL Manager of the Year: Nobody was paying attention when the Dodgers turned the corner last August and went 34-20 down the stretch. But everybody is aware of Don Mattingly's team now, as it sat 30 games over .500 at 64-34 in its last 98 games through Wednesday.
It's who Mattingly is winning with that makes his case. Kemp, Mark Ellis, Juan Rivera, Juan Uribe, Jerry Hairston Jr. currently are on the disabled list, Dee Gordon was benched then dropped to eighth in the order, and James Loney's power struggles continue. Yet the wins keep mounting with lineups including Jerry Sands, Justin Sellers, Elian Herrara, Scott Van Slyke and Ivan DeJesus.
AL Rookie of the Year: He's no rookie, of course -- not when it took over $100 million to get him out of Japan. But Yu Darvish is eligible for the award and gets it at this point. But Mike Trout is making it interesting, isn't he?
NL Rookie of the Year: We know where this likely is leading as the season unfolds -- Bryce Harper. Especially when this isn't a particularly strong year for NL rookies. Wade Miley, Yonder Alonso, Zack Cozart and Kirk Nieuwenhuis are off to nice starts.
Retaliation tactics In professional sports when is it OK to retaliate, and when is it wrong? Our panel of experts share their thoughts and experiences.
In professional sports when is it OK to retaliate, and when is it wrong? Our panel of experts share their thoughts and experiences.
Also, the Nationals have risen to the top of the NL East behind great starting pitching - and without Michael Morse (expected back in June), Drew Storen (expected back in July) and Brad Lidge (expected back in June).
Most disappointing team: Tie: Angels and Tigers. Albert Pujols has been far from alone, as Erick Aybar, Ervin Santana, Dan Haren and Peter Bourjos also have underachieved. Injuries/losses of Chris Iannetta, Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells have been costly. The bullpen had to undergo a reconstruction and appears to be settling. The infusion of Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo in the every-day lineup has lit some recent offensive sparks.
As it's turning out in Detroit, Miguel Cabrera playing third base has been less of an issue than Prince Fielder playing first base. The offense's problems lie with the supporting cast - with the obvious exception of Austin Jackson. The bullpen could be bolstered by the trade deadline, but there is hope for the rotation with Doug Fister's return and the expectation that Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello will lower current 5-plus ERAs.
The two-month All-Stars
AL- 1B: Paul Konerko, 2B: Robinson Cano, SS: Derek Jeter, 3B: Adrian Beltre, OF: Josh Hamilton, Austin Jackson, Adam Jones, C: Joe Mauer, SP: Justin Verlander, Closer: Jim Johnson.
NL - C: Carlos Ruiz, 1B: Brian LaHair, 2B: Omar Infante, SS: Rafael Furcal, 3B: David Wright, OF: Matt Kemp, Melky Cabrera, Ryan Braun; SP: Clayton Kershaw, Closer: Jonathan Papelbon.
By the numbers: How much better are the Rangers than the rest of the AL?: Through Wednesday, they led the majors with a +79 run differential. The next-highest AL team was Toronto at +35, and no other team was better than +17.
How much worse are the Twins than the rest of the AL? Through Wednesday, they sported a -69 run differential. Next worse in the AL were the Royals at -22.
Which surprise team is least likely to sustain its current winning percentage? Taking nothing away from the job Terry Collins has done in a very tough situation, the Mets had a 24-20 record despite a -29 run differential through Wednesday.
With the exact same run differential, the Brewers were 18-26. And the Rockies were 16-27 with a -27 run differential. How have the Mets gotten there? They're 9-5 in one-run games, but have lost by scores of 8-2, 14-6, 9-3, 6-1, 7-2, 18-9, 8-1, 8-0 and 14-5.