American League All-Star Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins hits a single in the ninth inning during the 83rd MLB All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Did you know that Jonathan Sanchez has been the best pitcher in the American League? That's just how good the hitters are! Yes, that's not true. But we've got some real surprises in store for you. Some nice surprises.
I'm sure you saw it already, because the thing's been literally and figuratively burning up the Internets all afternoon, but earlier today I reviewed a number of surprising league leaders in the National League.
But that wasn't the end of it. Just like everyone's favorite news channel, we're nothing here at Baseball Nation if we're not fair and balanced, so now it's the American League's turn. Just remember, these things are supposed to be surprising right now or right now but only if you've been asleep for the last two or three months. Ready? Let's go!
Batting Average: Mike Trout (.352)
Yes, the 20-year-old guy is running away with the batting title. We knew he was going to be good. We didn't know he was going to be quite this good, quite so soon.
Slugging Average: Mark Trumbo (.622)
Yeah, another Angel and not the one named Albert Pujols. Really, it's beginning to seem sort of ridiculous, how many great hitters you can see in Orange County. What's really surprising is that the Angels rank just seventh in the American League in scoring, which is about half bad luck and half Bobby Wilson.
On-Base Average: Joe Mauer (.416)
Yes, the power Mauer showed in 2009 was probably just a strange mirage, never to be seen again. But he's proving himself once more as one of the best-hitting catchers we've seen in a long time, and is firmly back on his original path to Cooperstown.
Sacrifice Flies: Ryan Doumit (8)
Hey, you had to be there.
Earned Run Average: Chris Sale (2.11)
He's essentially a rookie, since before this season he'd never started a single game in the major leagues. Or in the minor leagues. The White Sox made him a relief pitcher after they drafted him, and through a whole season in the majors, because they wanted him to reach the majors quickly. Then, seamlessly, they asked him to become a starting pitcher again. And this couldn't have worked out better.
Saves: Jim Johnson (28)
Johnson's 29, and entered this season with 21 career saves, never more than 10 in one season. But he got the job this spring and he's been nearly perfect, converting all but two save opportunities this year.
Meanwhile, we must honorably mention Fernando Rodney, right behind Johnson with 27 saves. Rodney used to be a closer. But last season he saved only three games all season, and over the last three seasons he'd posted a 4.35 ERA; even when he was closing games, he was shaky.
This season, though? He's already set a career high in saves, thanks to a ridiculous (0.86) ERA. How? He used to walk almost everybody, and now he walks almost nobody. Damnedest thing I've seen.
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio: Colby Lewis (6.6)
Much like Joe Blanton in the other, lesser league, Lewis has brilliantined his strikeout-to-walk ratio by maintaining his strikeouts while cutting his historical walk rate in half. Can he keep it up? Probably not. Are we impressed anyway? Probably.
Home-Run Ratio: Jarrod Parker (0.396)
Hey, remember when the A's were giving up on 2012 by trading Trevor Cahill to the Diamondbacks for a bunch of raw kids? Well, one of the kids (Parker) has given up only four home runs in 91 innings. Another of the kids (Ryan Cook) pitched in the All-Star Game. Moneyball!