The teams that led their respective divisions in the NL were looking up from the middle of the pack last season. The difference in records at the halfway point for those teams is a horse of a different color.
The Braves lead the NL East with a 53-36 this year while they were 43-45 last season.
NL Central-leading Reds are sitting at 49-41; last season they were 42-45 and sitting in fourth place of that division.
How about those San Diego Padres, from last to first. They were laughable to watch last season as they sat at 36-52 and 15 games out of first place at the halfway point.
This season they are the team laughing, as they are on top of the NL West with a 51-37 record.
The big question is how this turn around happened in less than one season. Neither teams acquired a “huge” free agent in the off season.
Oh that's right, it’s those players that you have never heard of that have made these teams the ones to compete with in the NL.
Forget about those day to day starters, focus on the starting pitchers. Can you name more than one or two starting pitchers on both the Padres and Reds?
Of course, the true sports fans should at least be able to name three or even the entire starting rotation.
Padres: John Garland has helped lead a bunch of no names to the league's best ERA at 3.27 and seems to be quite the journeyman in the NL West the past two seasons.
He played for both the Diamondbacks and Dodgers last season. Kevin Correia has been in this division ever since he came up to the big leagues with the Giants.
The only reason I even know of Mat Latos is due to the fact that he is one of the pitchers on my fantasy team.
Have you ever heard of Wade Leblanc or Clayton Richard? Other than that I am not to sure anybody but Padres fans can name their entire rotation. Then again I am not even sure they can do that.
Reds: Aaron Harang has been with this team forever and has normally been their go-to guy, but he has struggled a lot this season.
Mike Leake, who won the fifth and final starting spot in the rotation during spring training. has given himself a shot at winning the Rookie of the Year in the NL with a 6-1 record.
Then you have Bronson Arroyo who I know very well, considering I saw him battle my Yankees for three seasons.
Arguably their best pitcher this season, Johnny Cueto, who has been with them for three seasons now, seems to finally be finding his form.
His performance this year has been something they had hoped for since they took a chance on him back in 2005. The other starter can’t even be named as they have tried four different pitchers to fill this role.
Braves: Of course most of you would be able to name Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe who have been playing forever. Both have pitched more years in their careers then the rest of the starting staff combined.
Jair Jurrjens was one of their better pitchers for the past two seasons but has struggled to stay healthy this season.
The only reason I have ever even heard of Tommy Hanson was because of his outstanding season he had last year. Also, he has been one of their top prospects ever since he was drafted in 2005.
Think you can name the last one? You probably can’t because even the Braves don’t have a clue who that fifth starter is.
Kenshin Kawakami was a starter to begin the season, but with Jurrjens coming back and a dismal 1-9 record, he will more than likely be headed to the bullpen.
Kris Medlen is another young pitcher who lacks experience but is in the starting rotation for now anyway.
So as an average fan, do you think you would have been able to name more than two starting pitchers from these teams?