Tuesday, July 9, 2013

MLB First Half

We are almost halfway through the MLB season as we slide on in to the All-Star break and I am breaking down where each team stands in each division. Plus my thoughts on where I think these teams will sit when the season winds down in September.

NL West

NL West
W
L
PCT
GB
HOME
AWAY
L10
STRK
47
42
.528
-
24-17
23-25
5-5
L1
43
45
.489
3.5
25-21
18-24
7-3
W2
43
47
.478
4.5
26-21
17-26
4-6
W1
40
48
.455
6.5
25-18
15-30
2-8
L2
40
50
.444
7.5
25-19
15-31
0-10
L10
(Courtesy of: google.com)

Officially we are a couple of games past the technical halfway mark but most aficionados acknowledge the All-Star break as the halfway point so I will as well. The NL West has been one of baseball's biggest surprises this season with the loaded Dodgers floundering early and then regaining steam but still finding themselves under .500. The Dodgers recent surge has been powered by upcoming phenom Yasiel Puig and not veteran slugger and perennial All-Star Matt Kemp who has struggled tremendously. The Diamondbacks are shocking everyone by leading this division by 3.5 games because everyone and their mother picked the Dodgers and Giants to finish 1-2 in this one. The Rockies are not far off the Dodger's heals though and they will try to gain some ground before the All-Star break officially kicks in. The Giants find themselves in fourth but with the way this division looks with only one team above .500 they are still in the race as well despite struggling over their recent ball games. No surprise the Padres find themselves in  last place. What is a surprise is that they are only 7.5 games out and at one point they were actually above .500 before losing 10 consecutive games. Long story short this division is up for grabs and anyone could take it. My take? I still think the Dodgers and Giants will finish 1-2 in this division with LA winning it. The Diamondbacks don't have the lineup or rotation that is built for the long haul in a tight playoff race. Then again if the Dodgers aren't healthy neither are they but I still think they will get healthy enough to take the NL West crown. 

NL Central

NL Central
W
L
PCT
GB
HOME
AWAY
L10
STRK
53
34
.609
-
25-16
28-18
5-5
W3
53
35
.602
0.5
29-16
24-19
5-5
L3
 Reds
50
39
.562
4.0
30-16
20-23
5-5
L2
 Cubs
39
48
.448
14.0
19-23
20-25
6-4
W3
36
52
.409
17.5
21-25
15-27
4-6
W1
(Courtesy of: google.com)

No one is more disappointed that perennial laughing stock Houston has departed the NL Central than the Milwaukee Brewers. 'Cause hey, 5th place sounds a whole lot better than dead last. Never the less the depleted Brewers have bungled this season away and are firmly out of the playoff picture. Speaking of which that brings me to the other laughing stock in this division the lovable loser Chicago Cubs. No further comment is needed aside from stick a fork in 'em. This division is a three horse race. The saddest part about baseball is that only 5 teams make the playoffs. 3 division winners and two wild cards. So barring the two wild card winners coming from this division one of these 3 playoff caliber teams will be left out in the cold. We'll start with the front-runner, St. Louis. The Cards are playing exceptionally well and have been all season. They are almost 20 games above .500 and they are playing as well if not better away from home. They are being powered by guys like Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina who have revitalized themselves into top performers. On top of the solid lineup they have an excellent starting rotation anchored by Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn. On to the Pirates. The Pirates are just .5 game out. Let me reiterate that to you and let it sink in for a while. The PITTSBURGH PIRATES are only .5 game out of FIRST PLACE in the NL Central. As baffling as this seems given the way they have played over the last decade it has been a long time coming. The Pirates have been slowly but surely building a contender over the last few years, preferring to build the team from the ground up instead of the Bronx Bombers and BoSox approach of buying whatever big time star is available. The Pirates have finally constructed a legitimate contender this year. The Reds are currently sitting in 3rd, 4 games back, but 11 games over .500. They are in good shape to make a run for the division and the wild card but they are going to have to start playing better away from Cinci. My take? The Red Birds take the NL Central. They are top to bottom the best team in this division if not the NL and if not all of baseball. St. Louis wins it no doubt about it. Honestly I think the standing will stay the way they are today at the end of the season. The Pirates in 2nd, Reds in 3rd, Cubbies 4th, and Brew Crew in 5th. The only potential swaps? Cubbies drop to last or Reds over take Pirates. Don't expect much to change though.

NL East

NL East
W
L
PCT
GB
HOME
AWAY
L10
STRK
51
38
.573
-
29-13
22-25
6-4
W1
46
43
.517
5.0
27-18
19-25
6-4
L1
44
46
.489
7.5
22-19
22-27
6-4
W2
 Mets
38
48
.442
11.5
17-27
21-21
6-4
W2
32
56
.364
18.5
18-25
14-31
5-5
L4
(Courtesy of: google.com)

So far so predictable for the NL East. There have been no surprises in this division so far. The standings are right about where every one predicted they would be. The Marlins barely resembling a high school team. The Mets struggling but not super terrible in 4th. The Phillies decent but not returning to greatness in 3rd, the Nationals playing well but management really not caring that much about being 1st or winning now in 2nd. The Braves who re-loaded excellently in the off season leading the way fairly easily. The Braves are the best top to bottom team in this division and that is why my take is that they will easily win this division. Let's face it after last season's bungled Strasburg handling that led to an early playoff exit in which the management said they would rather not play Strasburg to have a chance to win later on. Essentially saying "forget winning this season even though we won our division easily." That attitude leads me to shy away from picking the Nationals to make a run at the division crown this year. They will stay put in second or cave below the Phillies. The Phillies have been playing well lately and I believe they are a better road team than the Nats so I will say they will overtake the Nats for second in the division. The Mets will stand at 4th and the Marlins will be cleaning the cellar of the East for the rest of the foresee-able future.

NL Wild Card

Since I am projecting the Dodgers, Cardinals and Braves to win their divisions, that leaves 2 more playoff spots for 2 wild card teams. I do not believe that the NL West will sneak in another team besides the division winner, who will honestly probably have the worst record out of all of the NL Playoff teams. I will go ahead and say that both Wild Cards will actually come out of the NL Central. The Pirates will fairly easily snag the first and I think the Reds will win a dog fight for the second.

NL Playoff Prediction

Very early to say and most likely will end up being incorrect but the Pirates will win the one game playoff with the Reds setting up a match up with the Division leading Cardinals. Cards-Pirates and Dodgers-Braves. The Braves will knock off the Dodgers in the NLDS and the Cards will take down the Pirates in the other NLDS. I think that believe it or not the Braves will down the Cardinals in the NLCS to return to the World Series for the first time in a while.

AL West

AL West
W
L
PCT
GB
HOME
AWAY
L10
STRK
53
37
.589
-
28-14
25-23
7-3
W2
52
37
.584
0.5
27-19
25-18
6-4
W2
43
45
.489
9.0
24-25
19-20
8-2
W2
40
49
.449
12.5
22-22
18-27
6-4
W2
32
57
.360
20.5
17-32
15-25
2-8
L1
(Courtesy of: google.com)

One of the AL's many surprises this season is the AL West. All of the hype was surrounding the Josh Hamilton, Pujols, Trout, and Trumbo lead incarnation of Murderer's Row. Never believe the hype. The Angels flat out have been stinking it up. Granted they have recently turned it on and there is a lot of baseball left to play but it simply ain't gonna happen. Somehow the Oakland Athletics are leading this division to this point and surprisingly the Rangers are only .5 game back with their biggest star now playing in LA. The Mariners are in 4th and the Stros...Oh my the Astros are of course in last place. My take? The Rangers will win this division but not by much. Oakland will stay hot on their heals to the very end but it just won't be enough. Other than that the current standings will hold firm.

AL Central

AL Central
W
L
PCT
GB
HOME
AWAY
L10
STRK
49
39
.557
-
26-16
23-23
6-4
W1
46
43
.517
3.5
25-18
21-25
5-5
L1
42
44
.488
6.0
22-22
20-22
6-4
W1
37
49
.430
11.0
21-23
16-26
2-8
L2
34
52
.395
14.0
19-21
15-31
2-8
L4
(Courtesy of: google.com)

The Royals have been another one of the AL's many surprises and they sit just 2 games under .500 and only 6 games back in the division. The AL Central is about on par with the NL West but not as bad. This is not a great division and honestly their really isn't much of a question of who is going to win it. The Indians don't have the team to keep up in a tight race and the Royals are not serious contenders yet. The Twins and White Sox are simply too far out. My take? The Tigers win this division easily and the rest of the standings hold firm. What is surprising to me is that the Tigers haven't played better than they have been with how good of a rotation and lineup they should have. Oh well.

AL East

AL East
W
L
PCT
GB
HOME
AWAY
L10
STRK
54
37
.593
-
31-16
23-21
6-4
L3
 Rays
50
40
.556
3.5
29-18
21-22
9-1
W5
49
41
.544
4.5
25-18
24-23
5-5
L1
48
41
.539
5.0
25-20
23-21
6-4
L2
43
45
.489
9.5
25-21
18-24
4-6
W1
(Courtesy of: google.com)

Now to every one's favorite, the AL East. Everyone had the Blue Jays pegged to win this division with all the talent they added to an already decent roster. Everyone had the Yankees and Sox finishing 2nd to last and last respectively. Well everyone, you were quite wrong. The trendy picks were the Jays and Orioles but the right picks were not. The Red Sox have shocked everyone by leading this division to this point. The Yankees have shocked everyone by playing as well as they have given the lack of names they have in their lineup at the moment. The Yanks have been winning with guys like Wells and Almonte instead of Granderson who is injured and Swisher who left in free agency. Guys like Cruz, Gonzalez and Overbay instead of guys like Teixeria, Rodriguez, and Jeter. The Yankees DL is a who's who of MLB talent. The fact that they are only 5 games back, with A-Rod and Jeter on the brink of returning is very impressive. The Orioles are right where everyone thought they'd be, 3rd. The Jays have been stinking it up and the Rays have been playing well. My take? This is the one of the best if not the best all around divisions in the game today and it will be a shame if they don't get 3 teams into the post-season. Currently they are poised for only two but I digress. The Yankees will win this division. BUT THEY ARE IN 4TH PLACE?!?!?! I know people will be screaming at their screens for this one but they are the freakin' Yankees. They will always be a contender and the fact that they are doing so well with such little talent really impresses me. This division is on notice when they get their star power back and they are always a team that can make moves at the trade deadline. The Sox will fall but only into second. The Rays just have never been that good and they still aren't despite what their record shows. They simply don't play well enough away from home and that will keep them out of the playoffs once again. The Orioles will finish third. The Rays fourth and the Jays will be cleaning the cellar.

AL Wild Card

With the Yankees, Tigers, and Rangers winning their divisions that leaves 2 spots up for grabs for everyone else. I am not a believer in the Athletics right now and I don't think they will squeak into the post season. I think the Red Sox will grab one of the spots and the Orioles will grab the other. Giving the AL East three teams in the playoffs.

AL Playoff Predictions

The Red Sox will dispose of the Orioles in the wild card game, setting up a match up between them and the Rangers. Rangers-Sox the Sox will surprisingly take this ALDS match up. The other ALDS will be Yankees-Tigers again and I think the Yankees will take this one this time. This will set up a Yankees-Red Sox ALCS which will be won by the Yankees. Curse of the Youka? 

World Series Prediction

In a clash between the Yankees and the Braves the Yankees will take this thing hands down. They have been through too much adversity and overcome it all to not get the job done at this point. Call me crazy but the Yankees are going to take the 'Ship this year.

Enjoy the rest of the season and we will see how things unfold! 

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