With the addition of an additional wild card
entrant in each league, more fans will have greater interest as the season
enters the backstretch. The Yankees and Rangers look like shoe-ins, but what are the White Sox, Red Sox and Angels chances?
The New York
Yankees and the Texas Rangers own the best records in the American League. The Yanks have a substantial lead in the East
while Texas is heading the AL West pack by about three games over the
Angels. Both teams look like solid bets
to win their respective divisions though there is plenty of baseball left to be
played. However, they both certainly
appear poised to, at the very least, be in the playoff hunt when October rolls
White Sox lead the AL Central but have a tenuous lead over Cleveland and
Detroit. The Chi-Sox do boast one of the
best plus/minus differentials in the American League at +63, second only to Texas. However, Texas only has the Angels within
sniffing distance and does not really have any other competition in their
division unless the wheels completely fall off their wagon.
Baltimore Orioles have been a pleasant surprise this season but are still well
back of the Yankees. However, they are
in an AL East gridlock with the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox and the Toronto
Blue Jays. Anyone of those teams could
cop a wild card berth, but it will probably come down to Boston and Tampa
The Red Sox
have been reeling with injuries this season. All-Stars Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford have been sidelined
throughout the season. But the Sox have
managed to fill the void using a patchwork offense with call-ups from Pawtucket
and utility players. Manager Bobby
Valentine has had to be very creative this season, but his starting pitching has
not kept pace with a mostly prolific offense. Certainly the Red Sox can never be counted out
and, if they get some of their key players back, including the recently shelved
All-Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia, then they could potentially make a late
season run at the Yankees.
The L.A. Angels started out the season with the biggest free agent acquisition since
Alex Rodriguez. Albert Pujols defected
from the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals to the big money and sunny climes
of Southern California. The Angels were
able to lure Sir Albert away from the only team he had known since he began
playing in the bigs by tossing an obscene amount of money at him. The start
of his career in an Angels uniform, however, was rougher than a sheet of sandpaper on a
porcupine's rear end.
He has now
started to come around, raising his batting average to almost .270 and second on
the team in home runs with 14, trailing only Mark Trumbo. But, who would have thought a midseason
discussion of the Angels' fate would revolve not around Pujols but on the historic
season by 20-year-old rookie Mike Trout who is in the midst of an MVP campaign
at the halfway mark. Factor in another
stellar season by Jered Weaver and the free agency signing of C.J. Wilson that
has turned out every bit as good as expected and now you have the most likely
candidate in any division to catch the current leader. Now, if only Dan Haren could shake free from
his funk, the Rangers would be most definitely looking over their shoulders.
On early life support
Oakland, who had to be buoyed by a recent three game sweep of the Red Sox, the
rest of the AL is littered with the usual suspects. Is it any surprise that Kansas City,
Minnesota and Seattle are pulling up the rear again this season. Nobody expected much from any of these teams
and, once again, they are nothing if not consistent.
If we had to
throw out all the teams that we feel will be on the outside looking in when the
postseason parade commences, we would then give our condolences to fans of the
Royals, Twins, Mariners, A's, Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays, Indians, and White
Sox. Yes, I said White Sox. The
division leading White Sox!
So who do I see in October?
a bit foolhardy to attempt this exercise in the middle of summer, but it
wouldn't be the first time someone called me a damn fool. I will play Nostradamus without the
cumbersome quatrains or the ambivalent veiled references and deliver my 2012
MLB end of season standings.
AL East - Yankees
lineup looks too potent to tailspin for any length of time. The only cause for pause with the Bombers
this season is the recent spate of injuries to starters C.C. Sabathia and Andy
Pettitte. Both were placed on the DL but
both will eventually be back; the question is will their injuries linger
and diminish their effectiveness going forward. We don't believe any AL East rival will be able to dethrone the current
AL Central - Tigers
What can I
tell you, I like the Tigers to bare their claws in the second half of
the season and take command of the Central. They are 4-4 against the Pale Hose thus far this season but look for
Detroit to up the ante as the homestretch nears.
AL West - Angels
are only 3 ½ games out, and I cannot help but wonder where they would be if they
had gotten on track a bit earlier. They
will start to score more runs, and the backend of their rotation will get better
as well. The Halos won't need a miracle
to make this happen but they will need to end the season much better than they
Wild Cards - Rangers & Red Sox
I am not
disparaging the Rangers by selecting the Angels to win the West because it's
very much a roll of the dice between these two teams. The Texas lineup is loaded, however, and they
will continue to mash their way to a Wild Card berth.
The Red Sox will come alive as they get
. I don't believe their
starting pitching is strong enough to see them overtake the Yankees, but they
look primed for a big second half run and a date with the Rangers in the Wild