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Toronto Blue Jays Pitchers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez Bond as 'Brothers'

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — How did you meet your best friend?

Were you in the same third-grade class? Did you play on the same Little League team? Or perhaps work at the same crappy, after-school job?

It’s more likely than not it was through some sort of shared experience, one that wasn’t necessarily as exhausting or thrilling as working your way from the minors to the big leagues.

Playing Pretender or Contender with MLB's 2016 Playoff Hopefuls After 1 Month

Are you for real?

That's the question we're asking of each MLB playoff hopeful a month and change into the 2016 season.

It's too early to know for certain, of course. We've got a summer's worth of injuries, trades, hot streaks and cold spells to slog through before the postseason picture becomes clear.

But it's never too early to speculate. And we've got tools at our disposal, including stats, trends, track records and, of course, a dollop of old-fashioned gut feeling.

Shelby Miller Looking Early on to Be One of Worst MLB Trades in Decades

Shelby Miller could throw a no-hitter in his next start. He could rip off a streak of run-suppressing dominance and propel the Arizona Diamondbacks to the top of the National League West standings.

Those things could happen, and if they do, what you're about to read will seem silly and alarmist and premature.

I'm willing to take that risk.

Giancarlo Stanton Rounding Back into Elite Form for Surging Marlins

Be careful out there. 'Tis the season when you never know if a Giancarlo Stanton home run ball might come falling out of the sky.

The Miami Marlins right fielder went into Wednesday with five home runs in his last eight games. The Marlins won all but one of those, bringing themselves from well under .500 to a nice, respectable 13-12.

What Is Behind NL's Offensive Leap in 2016's First Month?

The National League has come here to chew bubblegum and score runs. And it's all out of bubblegum.

The first month of 2016 has indeed been a rowdy one for Senior Circuit offenses. As their American League counterparts have averaged just 3.96 runs per game, National League offenses are sitting pretty at 4.49 runs per game. That's way up from last year's average of 4.11, and it puts the NL on track for its best run-scoring season since 2008.

How Important Is an MLB Manager, Really?

Managers matter, except when they don't.

Everyone in baseball can tell a story of a manager who turned around a team, from Sparky Anderson and later Jim Leyland with the Detroit Tigers to Buck Showalter with the Baltimore Orioles and Joe Maddon with first the Tampa Bay Rays and then the Chicago Cubs.

And, perhaps, Dusty Baker with the Washington Nationals.

Chicago Cubs Could Turn NL Central into 1-Horse Race in 2016

Last year, the National League Central was a neck-and-neck-and-neck scramble. This year, it could turn into a one-horse race.

It's still earlyin case you're not sick of that particular qualifierbut the Chicago Cubs are establishing themselves as the class of the division. 

After defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-1 Tuesday night behind ace Jake Arrieta, Chicago sits at 19-6, five games up on the Bucs and seven games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Scott Miller's Starting 9: Early Miseries Indicate Yankees Are in Trouble

April flowers bring May showers, or something like that...

1. Yankees Feeling the Burn

Is this the summer the New York Yankees devolve into also-rans?

Everyone knew their current nine-game trip to Texas, Boston and Baltimore would be a Rawlings buster, but it's turned coyote ugly quick. They're like the varmint in that Whac-A-Mole game. Every time they pop their heads up, Travis Shaw or David Ortiz or Rougned Odor bludgeons their little pinstriped heads back into the ground.

Stock Up, Stock Down on Values of MLB's Top Projected 2016 Trade Targets

It's never too early to start thinking about trades.

With the regular season's first month behind us and baseball's rumor mill well-rested after an offseason of activity, each passing week will see an increase in rumors and speculation surrounding some of the season's biggest potential trade targets.

MLB Rookie Star Nomar Mazara's Maturity Helps Maximize Immense Talent

No scientific survey is needed to know that every MLB team would love for its prospects to be ready at 20 years old. Just like anyone would rather dine at a restaurant with a Michelin star.

But neither figures to happen with frequency.


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