Several MLB surprises so far

ST. LOUIS — Hard to believe, but when the Cardinals play their 54th game today in Colorado, they already will have completed exactly one-third of their 162-game schedule.

The team is substantially different from the one they expected to have back on Feb. 15. But they've survived injuries to some key players and ineffectiveness by others to rank as one of the surprise teams in the first third of the season.

However, there have been bigger stunners:

Surprise team(American League)

Cleveland Indians, and not even close. Manager Manny Acta, fired in Washington when he couldn't make chicken salad out of what the Nationals had, inherited seemingly an equally bad club at Cleveland. For instance, Washington and Cleveland had the same 69-93 record last year, which was Acta's first in Cleveland. But Acta got a lot smarter when the Indians' pitching (former Cardinal Chris Perez has 13 saves) got a lot better.

Surprise team(National League)

Arizona Diamondbacks. Anyone who watched the Cardinals whip up 31 runs on the D-backs in three games last month in Phoenix had to wonder how many more games than 100 Arizona might lose. Instead, the D-backs entered the weekend in second place in the Western Division.

Most disappointing team(American League)

Minnesota Twins. No team was further from first place (14 1/2; games) than the Twins, who finished in first place last year in the Central Division. No sign yet as to when sore-legged catcher Joe Mauer will be back. Or if any Twins player will hit 20 home runs.

Most disappointing team(National League)

Los Angeles Dodgers. Yes, the ownership is a mess, but neither Frank nor Jamie McCourt should be blamed for closer Jonathan Broxton's downfall.

Most surprising player(American League)

Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay outfielder. He entered the weekend hitting .367 with an OPS of 1.071. He hit .241 for the Rays last year.

Most surprising player(National League)

Tie: Lance Berkman and Kyle Lohse, Cardinals.

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