The end of the first month of any season carries with it more than a bit of uncertainty. There are only six months, roughly speaking, in a campaign, so the data generated in those early weeks is one-sixth of the data we'll end up with by late September. But it's not enough for us to let go of the expectations for the season established by things like preseason predictions, betting markets, analytical projections and our own set of preconceived projections.
In other words, we know some of what we've seen so far is real, some is fodder for dreamers and the exact split of those things is unknown.
As we lean into the month of May, the ratings behind the Stock Watch reflect this gray area between expectation and reality. There are more than 500 games of real-life results that have to be weighed. At the same time, the preseason projections can't yet be ignored, either. Love 'em or hate 'em, projections are based on research, established patterns and past results.
With that in mind, the pecking order laid out in the Stock Watch has evolved since the beginning of the season. That order has not, however, been overwhelmed by, for example, the tepid start of the defending champion Red Sox or the amazing start of the upstart Padres. This evolution will continue, of course, as the standings are further validated with each day's slate of games.
Before you know it, teams will start acting on those results. General managers will stop saying, "It's early" or "We believe in our guys." Teams in contention will move toward proactively bolstering their roster. The others will pivot to positioning their organization for a future push at contention. Even as Opening Day remains fresh in our minds and many games are still being played in chilly conditions -- in the upper Midwest, at least -- we're only 11 weeks away from the trade deadline. The end of July will be here before you know it.
Don't forget: Beginning with this season, there is only one trade deadline. The August waiver-wire processes have been eliminated, so late-season trades such as the one that sent ace Justin Verlander from Detroit to Houston in 2017 will no longer be possible. The timeline for in-season improvement has been accelerated.
One thing about this year's standings is that in both leagues there hasn't been a tremendous amount of separation. It's too soon to start identifying buyers, sellers and holders, but we are seeing emergent shortcomings on rosters and in organizations that might have to be addressed via outside acquisition before that July deadline arrives. As you wind your way through the data accompanying the May Stock Watch, these possible holes will be the focus of our commentary.