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Surging Brewers are in 1st, the Cubs and Cardinals are not

Thursday’s Say Hey, Baseball sees the Brewers are atop the NL Central, a ridiculous Angels-White Sox game, and the benches clearing in Atlanta.

Milwaukee Brewers v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

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It's only May 18, so don't start printing postseason tickets just yet. However, these wins (and losses) are already in the bank, never to be removed from the record of 2017, and playing well now makes life easier later on.

That's good news for the Brewers, who are in first place in the NL Central following an 8-2 run over their last 10 games, and less good news for the Cardinals and Cubs, the former which fell out of first after dropping a two-game series to the Red Sox, and the latter of which hasn't seen first place since May 6 and sits just one game over .500 on the year.

Just like Brewers fans shouldn't get too thrilled about being in first, Cardinals and Cubs fans can't get too broken up about not being there. Yes, the Cubs are just 20-19, but that puts them all of two games back of Milwaukee. The Cards are all of half a game behind, even more impressive when you consider that, thanks to a horrific start to 2017, they were at one point 4.5 games back of first.

With all that being said, the Cubs and Cardinals can't merely dismiss the Brewers as an early season phenomenon. Milwaukee is second in the NL in runs scored, and the only Central team with over 200 already. Yes, they've given up 188 runs, the most in the division, but their run differential (+29) is significantly better than that of the Cards (+15) or Cubs (+8). All three teams, based on run differential, have the record they would be expected to have.

All three clubs have weaknesses, but all three also have plenty of strengths. The Brewers had plenty of potential, but the main question was whether it was going to show itself this year or wait another season or two before manifesting. Given the early season performance, it might be showing itself already. And even if they aren't quite there, these teams' starts are going to help them in the long run.