The Chicago Cubs are consuming worlds and expelling starfire, laying waste to entire galaxies before they search for the next one. You need a quantum processor to figure out their run differential on the season, and you're right to be a little terrified.
The Cubs also didn't have a lot of help from their offseason acquisitions this month.
It's true, amazingly. Jason Heyward is playing like Juan Lagares with a wrist injury. Ben Zobrist has been OK, not great, and John Lackey has the highest ERA on the staff. They can get even better, somehow. They just need the offseason to start bearing fruit.
That's not a problem for these five teams, who wouldn't change a thing with what they did over the winter. It's irresponsible to judge an entire offseason based on a month's worth of data, so here are the five best offseasons in baseball as determined by a month's worth of data.
5. Blue Jays
They gave up a healthy haul for David Price, and they kind of got used to the idea of a big, hulking, unambiguous ace. Wind him up, set him down, and watch him do ace things, mostly without interruption. Every team should have one. They're fun.
The Blue Jays couldn't afford to keep him, though. Or, perhaps, they would rather save those clams for their own free agents, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Regardless, the plan was always to let Price walk. It was a fling.
But he needed to be replaced, clearly. The Blue Jays' rotation was short, which was why they got Price in the first place. So they reached down into their bag of tricks, rummaged around a bit, and came back up with ... re-acquiring J.A. Happ and re-signing Marco Estrada. Replacing Price with Happ is sure some kind of trick.
Announcer: We've secretly replaced the fine coffee they usually serve with living, wriggling earthworms. Let's see if anyone can tell the difference!
Diner: oh god worms they're everywhere
Pretty much! Except it's worked. Happ's been great, even if the flashy K/BB isn't what helped him get the contract in the first place. Add in the rescue of the perpetually undervalued and unlucky Michael Saunders, and you have yourself a surprisingly effective offseason.
Just ignore the team's overall record and that Troy Tulowitzki stepped through the wardrobe door into Nomarnia, where the lion is a metaphor for a literal lion that bites your knees, backs, and hamstrings.
They went cheap. As they do. They built a lifehack roster, even though they have a wide open window. They've made the postseason in each of the last three years, but they still can't win the division, and now they're pinching pennies at exactly the weirdest time.
Sound familiar? It's kind of like the Blue Jays up there, and it worked, too. John Jaso was someone they apparently wanted for years, which is like keeping pictures of a Corolla in your cubicle to remind you that your day is going to come, and he's been exactly what they've wanted. David Freese was a magnificent last-second addition to a team that needed to buy time, and Matt Joyce has been everything they could have wanted.
The trade of Neil Walker for Jon Niese hurts, not because they're missing Walker's bat as much as Niese hasn't been very good. The low-risk, high-reward move to get Juan Nicasio negates that, though. We would have written a million words about the Pirates doing the right thing if they mortgaged their future to sign Zack Greinke. Here's a grab bag of spare parts, though, that's been much more effective.
Daniel Murphy has been a tremendous addition so far. Now, there's a chance -- a slight chance -- that he won't finish with one of the greatest offensive seasons from a second baseman in history, but these are 100 plate appearances he doesn't have to give back.
I'm more impressed that the Nationals didn't panic over the offseason.
They would prefer to have a healthy Ben Revere, so the offseason isn't a total success so far, but think of all the talent they had to replace. They lost Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, Yunel Escobar, Drew Storen, Denard Span, and Doug Fister. Now, a lot of those players (or their injuries) were part of the problem last year, not a part of the solution, but they were all a part of why the Nationals were supposed to win the NL East by 10 games in 2015. They could have went wacky on the hot stove league, signing a half-dozen players to regrettable deals.
Instead, they were fine with Joe Ross and Tanner Roark. They were OK with Danny Espinosa, for all his warts, as a bridge to Trea Turner. They didn't spend their prospect capital in trades, and they left a little financial flexibility if they wanted to keep Stephen Strasburg or make a deal in July.
They could have had Mike Leake and another iffy long-term commitment. Instead, they trusted themselves, and a month into the season, they're glad they did.
2. White Sox
They're the obvious fit for the top spot in the American League, considering their hot start. Huge chunks of the winning can be directly attributed to some of their new acquisitions, too. Mat Latos is throwing softer than ever and he's not missing bats, but he's five excellent starts into what might be new career as a White Sox folk hero.
Jimmy Rollins and Austin Jackson can't really hit anymore, but at least they can field, which is something the White Sox haven't been able to say about all of their players. Todd Frazier is doing power-hitter stuff, and the average and OBP will come around.
The best, most encouraging surprise has to be Brett Lawrie, though. After being the anchor in a trade for Josh Donaldson, the White Sox bought low, moving him from a cavernous park into a hitter's paradise. They made him switch positions on the fly, but he's single-handedly turned the team's biggest weakness into one of its biggest strengths.
Like almost every player in this entire article, there's still a chance he'll regress to the player he was, which wouldn't be as exciting. But the walk rate has more than doubled, and the extra-base hits are also up. For a hitter who's still just 26, these are all encouraging signs, which makes Lawrie a particularly inspired acquisition.
I knew someone who got a divorce and was engaged six months later to someone who looked exactly like their former spouse. It was absolutely comical, even if no one could say anything. Ever. I shouldn't even be writing this.
That's the Mets with Daniel Murphy. "Where can we possibly find another above-average hitter to play a passable second base?" they thought in their darkest moments, right after Murphy left. Except they're fine. Murphy's fine. They ran into each other at the grocery store, and there weren't any hard feelings at all. Everyone's in a better place.
Both Neil Walker and Murphy will return to their past incarnations, and that's just fine. But the Mets also get credit for addressing shortstop, bringing in Asdrubal Cabrera to help Wilmer Flores out. And we all noticed that, 31 innings in, Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard have identical ERAs, right?
Take a brief moment to pause and think about Syndergaard in 20 years, rotund and jolly, still pitching in the major leagues. It's basically the same thing, and it's a beautiful dream.
The cherry of the offseason, of course, was keeping Yoenis Cespedes around. It took a very, very strange free agent market for it to happen, and the Mets' inability to spend will cost them when Cespedes ditches them after this season, but that still doesn't change that they chose the right outfield option again. The answer wasn't Jason Heyward, at least not in April. It was Cespedes. It wasn't Justin Upton. It was Cespedes, and the Mets nailed it again.
Well, Cespedes or Michael Saunders. Which is a reminder that baseball is messing with us, as usual. In a month, after a half-dozen scoreless starts from Zack Greinke or Shelby Miller, this list might include the Diamondbacks. Maybe Upton hits a dozen homers, and suddenly the Tigers are way up in the Central. Dunno.
But after a month of baseball, here are the winners of the offseason. Good job, teams. For now.