By the time you read this, baseball’s Midsummer classic will have come and gone, closing the book on the first half of the season. Teams like the Angels and Tigers will have to prove their worth in July as both face the toughest schedules coming out of the break.
Others, like Pittsburgh, will have to prove that choking away first-half leads isn’t a common occurence. The races are going to tighten — or in some cases they’ll go the opposite — this is go time for most teams. Who knows, maybe Detroit really is good and the Angels are more like the team we saw earlier this year?
Division leaders invade the top-four slots this week, and for all we know, those leaders could be completely different next time around.
1. New York Yankees — up one — 52-33
I understand how sports broadcasted on national television works — networks pick the best match ups that will get them the most viewers. With that said, I’m legitemetly surprised every time I see Yankees-Red Sox and it’s not on ESPN or Fox. It’s a great rivalry, but the Yankees just gave them an old-fashioned beating this weekend, taking three of four.
Boston isn’t great, but New York didn’t even play that well and sent the Sawx into last place. — Brady Fredericksen
2. Washington Nationals — up one — 49-34
The surprises just keep coming for the Nats this year. I doubt many of you (except me) would have picked this team to be in playoff position at this point in the year. They overcame the injury bug early (Drew Storen, Michael Morse) and continue to do so now (Jayson Werth, Wilson Ramos). The question remains: as an organization, are the Nationals ready for this type of success? This team is like a high school freshman that just got her boobs and is slightly clueless as to what to do with them. Hopefully success has no come to early for this team and they will be able to maintain it. – Keiran Bleich
3. Texas Rangers — down two — 52-34
Division leaders or not, every time a team gets their ass handed to them in a sweep by an AL Central team it raises eyebrows. The good news is that they are tied for the major league wins lead and somehow the team sent 37 players to the All-Star game, including last vote winner Yu Darvish and his near 4 ERA. If the Rangers don’t want to mess with the success they have experienced they will have to use arguably their best pitcher (Neftali Feliz) as a 7th inning guy when he comes back from injury in a couple weeks. – K.B.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates — up three — 48-37
The Pirates being in first place at the All Star break might be the surprise story of the first half. AJ Burnett is pitching like a fiend now that he only has to handle one or two reporters in Pittsburgh rather than the three or four dozen he did in New York. Andrew McCutchen is beasting his way to an MVP win. I seem to remember this team making a run like this last year but then totally falling off the map. Lets hope they can avoid that this year. – K.B.
5. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — no change — 48-38
The Angels may not be in first place, yet, but they have been steady mobbin’ as they come recently. For as perfectly, pencil-thin as owner Arte Moreno’s mustache is, the Angels have been beating the teams they should be — not to mention they have split six games against those first-place Rangers.
They open the second half with three at the Yankees, four at the Tigers and then they host Texas for three at home. At that point, we’ll know if they’re legit or in for the night, no longer steady mobbin’. — B.F.
6. Chicago White Sox — up four — 47-38
Chicago sits atop the AL Central for the moment, but this just feels like a division that’ll be competitive to the end. They’ve got two of the AL’s top starters in Jake Peavy and Chris Sale, but the rest of their rotation is in shambles; until they fix that, they won’t be pulling away from the pack.
Cleveland is still in soundly in second, and Detroit is coming, albeit after pounding Minnesota and Kansas City. I’m still betting Cleveland or Chicago wins this, but Detroit — on reputation alone — will hang around. – B.F.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers — up one — 47-40
They recovered, and it looked like they may have been in one of those very Dodger-y spirals fans have come to know, but it’s not all good on the horizon. The Dodgers were a great first-half story, I guess they still are as they sit in first place, but if one of these teams leading their division is going to lose that lead, it’s them, right?
Clayton Kershaw has been good, but not 2011 good. Matt Kemp will be good, but when will the next injury come? There are so many stories with this team, but they are in L.A. aren’t they? – B.F.
8. Cincinnati Reds — down two — 47-38
The Reds let the Pirates catch them for the division lead. I have of vision of the GMs and managers of Cincinnati, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Chicago and Houston all meeting in a dark room at a big round table. Here they make a pact to do whatever they can to keep the Pittsburgh Pirates where they belong — in last place. The Reds have now failed this completely made up committee and they must suffer the consequences. – K.B.
9. San Francisco Giants — down five — 46-40
The past east coast road trip was not kind to the Giants. They got swept in Washington DC then lost the series in Pittsburgh. After two great starts Tim Lincecum looks like he is having marijuana withdrawals yet again. The good news is that they are only half a game back of the Dodgers who are playing equally as bad. – K.B.
10. Atlanta Braves — unranked — 46-39
Where to begin? Atlanta can’t hit lefties, they’re just 12-13 against the NL East, Chipper Jones is literally made of glass and Andrelton Simmons, their hot-shot rookie short stop, is out for a month. With all that in the fold, they’re still atop the Wild Card standings
They’ve actually gotten better since they lost Brandon Beechy, who apparently made the jump from O.K. to S.I.C.K. over night, and Tommy Hanson has started to pitch like the leader of the staff. While we’re talking Hanson — and this is me being your friend — don’t Google Tommy Hansen. Well, unless you like dicks, but for real, if you don’t, than heed my advice, partner. – B.F.
30. Houston Astros — last place — 33-53
Well, first this happened, which is just a preview to the awfulness in Houston. Manager Brad Mills isn’t going to survive the season, either. The depression has to be setting in for fans who actually saw there team just one game under .500 after a sweep of the Cubs and win over the Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers on May 25. Of course, every single facet of the Astros’ shit has hit the proverbial fan since, and the team dropped 30 of their next 41 games. They do have No. 1 pick Carlos Correa in the minors, but he’s also 17 years old.
Think about it, how many of the guys on this team right now will he actually play with? One? None? – B.F