Here is my 2nd half preview of the AL Races in baseball:
Who would have thought before the season this team would lead the majors with 58 wins? They have been playing team ball most of the year after cutting the fat of the expensive contracts in Adrian Gonzales, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford last season. They still are in need of a consistent 3rd basemen and must look for that as the trade deadline nears. While I think they will be in the hunt, I feel they may not be as good as others in their division
Predicted finish: 2nd (Wild Card #1)
Impressive. The Rays always seem to be there every year showing small market teams how if you put a plan and system in place, you can compete year in and year out. This team was red hot heading into the all-star break feasting on the bad AL teams during that stretch. They also quietly lead all major league teams with 34 wins at home making the Trop an extremely friendly home field advantage.
They have a very important series against many of the AL East to start the 2nd half. If they can survive this and keep ace David Price healthy, this is their year to win the title with one of the big boys having a down year.
I really like how this team plays and they have created a resurgence among Orioles fans. Chris Davis racing toward 60+ home runs will be a special side story of the season to watch. I worry though that many teams may choose to intentionally give him bases on ball forcing others players to beat them. If Adam Jones can keep his hitting up and newly acquired Scott Feldmen can give them a lift, the Orioles will be in the hunt for a possible wild card until the last week of the season.
New York Yankees
This team has been snake bitten by injury. You have to wonder if Derek Jeter getting injured immediately after returning from a broken ankle meant he came back too soon. You also have to wonder if A-Rod comes back, will he be more of a distraction with all the PED clouds over his head.
Watching them play last Sunday vs the Twins showed me while I give them credit for adding vets like Overbay, Youkilis, and Wells, instead of bringing up talent from the minors and using this year as a rebuilding/tweaking year, their ego got in the way and they tried to win now and are showing their age as they are quickly going in the opposite direction. You know it is bad when the backups to your players on the DL end up going on the DL as well. This is a very old team.
They have a very important stretch starting Friday vs the Red Sox, Rangers, Rays, and Dodgers. This is do or die time. My prediction is they fade into the sunset and for the first time in who knows when, Yankees fans will be spending August having to get acquainted with looking to next year.
Toronto Blue Jays
This team is such a tease. They stunk up the joint early in the season, surged for 2 a week period to follow it up by stinking up the joint even worse never yet to come back. The crazy thing is that they are only 4 games under .500. The problem is that they are 11.5 games back in a tough AL East. No Buehrle, Reyes, Dickey or Bautista will save them from last place. For those who were calling them World Series favorites in the winter after robbing the Marlins, you can simply replay Joe Carter’s home runs from the 1993 World Series in the offseason.
This team just like last season is the class of the AL Central. They should easily win with their talent and be able to pull away with the division. They have Verlander and Matt Scherzer nuff said. So why have they not pulled away? They are 23-23 on the road. Since they keep giving Cleveland a chance, this could be the division ripe for an upset. A huge 4 game series vs the Indians in early August will say much about who controls this to the end. Also Miguel Cabrera going for another possible triple crown and fighting with the Orioles Chris Davis for the HR title will be exciting as well!
Prediction: 2nd (Wild Card #2)
I really like how this team is hanging in there. Terry Francona has this team believing in itself and they made some good moves in the offseason to instill a new culture. Nick Swisher may look like one of the best signings for this team as he brings leadership and intangibles to the table. Minus playing Texas for a series, their schedule looks extremely favorable up to that huge early August home series vs Detroit. This team is a major trade away from surprising many people. Getting someone like Garza from the Cubs would be huge.
This team is playing well and getting people excited in KC about the future. I just personally think they are a year away from seriously competing. They have great nucleus of players like Alex Gordan, Alcides Escobar, and Billy Butler.
I am really confused by the Twins. Are they rebuilding? If so, it is time to think about moving Maur or Morneau if some team comes calling. Problem is both make a ton of money and are about to leave their prime so most likely they are stuck with them. To be honest, the Twins are stuck between a rock and hard place. They still play good fundamental baseball, however they are years away from competing.
Chicago White Sox
If someone told me this team would be the worst Chicago team in baseball I would have laughed at you. This team is bad. Almost bad to the point where they are hard to watch and this is coming from someone who loves watching baseball. Their ticket office knows this too as prices are dropping like a rock. Plenty of seats will be available the rest of the season!
At least with the Twins you see fundamental baseball. Now if you don’t believe that the Sox could not read fundamental if it was carved out in the infield, see the picture below.
What is the over and under that Hawk Harrelson just decides to get up and leave the booth to never return for the end of the season so Steve Stone has to call the games solo? Too bad two of their best trade chips (Peavy, Konerko) are hurt and they have not much talent in their farm system. Doh!!
Last year was not a fluke. This team is the real deal. What really impressed me is that they played the NL Central which has 3 of the top teams in all of baseball and won series against all of them. Another thing that surprises me is how are they in 1st place with 56 wins when their team batting average is .246?!??!
Guess it is typical Bill Beane baseball. All about On base percentage, and excellent starting pitching. Bartolo Colon has 12 wins on this team and a 2.70 ERA!!! That signing looks brilliant when at the time every other team thought he was washed up. Texas will give them some competition, but as last year showed us, the A’s fear nobody.
This team is solid. They have the talent to stay with the Athletics for the division title. Only problem is that much of their pitching is on the DL. To trade for Matt Garza or to not trade for him that will be the question. They also play the Orioles, Yankees, and Indians to start the 2nd half. It will be interesting to see how they fare with DL issues and if they can get healthy enough to make a push towards the title.
Los Angeles Angels
And the runner up for biggest disappointment of the year goes to…. the LA Angels. Similar to Toronto, this team has all the talent money can buy (or in the case of the Blue Jays steal) and still look bad doing it. If they have any thoughts of coming back in this race, they must beat Oakland and Texas coming up before August. It’s now or never. My money is on never. Think of how expensive these contracts are in this photo for 5 games under .500 and let that soak in for awhile Angels fans. Then think about how you traded Jean Segura for Zack Greinke last July and Greinke is playing in the other county for the Dodgers. At least Trout and Trumbo are making a little over 1/2 a million this year!
As long as the M’s have King Felix, they can at least look at playing spoiler vs some teams. Other than that, not much the Mariners have to look forward to this year. Do you wonder if putting all your money in Hernandez’ basket and putting nothing else to the rest of the team will look good long term?
The AAA-Astros continue to develop talent. That is all they can do in hopes to rebuild and contend in the next couple of years. Til then, expect over 100 losses.
Division Champs: Rays, Indians, Athletics
Wild Card Winners: Red Sox, Tigers
Stay tuned for my 2nd half NL preview tomorrow.