For two and a half months, the Milwaukee Brewers (38-33) have taken a surprising ride to the top of the NL Central.
What has been even more surprising in many people's minds is the staying power they have had in remaining in first place, now 2.5 games ahead of the world champion Chicago Cubs (34-34).
"It's time you have to take them seriously, especially until someone else in the division gets going," said Journal Sentinel beat writer and WTMJ Brewers 360 contributor Tom Haudricourt on Wisconsin's Morning News Monday.
Yes, the Brewers have made a seven-game improvement over 2016 at the 71-game mark, but there are other factors that have assisted Milwaukee at this point, especially a surprising lack of quality competition in the NL Central.
"There is still no other team in the division about .500," said Haudricourt. The normally-competitive St. Louis Cardinals are 31-37, 5.5 games back of Milwaukee, with the Pirates and Reds rounding out the Central.
In fact, only four other teams in the NL have winning records - East-leading Washington (42-27) and three teams in a western dogfight: Colorado (46-26) and a pair of 44-26 teams in Colorado and the L.A. Dodgers.
Yet Milwaukee has its own internal factors for success - mainly starting pitching and record-pace power.
Milwaukee's current five-man starting rotation (Jimmy Nelson, Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Matt Garza and Junior Guerra) has a 21-11 record with a 3.65 ERA.