Major League Baseball teams have arrived at the halfway point of the season as they either reached or surpassed the 81-game mark over the weekend.
Surprises? A few for sure, but for the most part the races are what I thought they would be.
In the American League, the Boston Red Sox spent most of the first half chasing and finally passing the New York Yankees, whose pitching depth has been exposed. The surprises of this division are the Tampa Bay Rays being over .500 and the Toronto Blue Jays being under.
Cleveland, the team I picked to win it all, leads the AL Central as expected, but by just three games. The surprises are that Minnesota is in the hunt and Detroit probably isn’t.
The Houston Astros basically have the AL West clinched, primarily because they are loaded with quality young players, not to mention the rest of the division is terrible.
In the NL East, the Washington Nationals are comfortably in front despite a bullpen that’s among the worst in baseball. With any decent relief pitching, the Nats would be up by 15 games. The rest of the division is under .500, the only surprise being the Mets are so bad.
The NL Central is intriguing. After years where it was maybe the best in the league, it’s now the worst. Milwaukee is the leader, but just four games over .500. How the Chicago Cubs are .500 at the halfway point is a mystery as it’s almost like they’re bored and can push a button anytime they want. St. Louis and Pittsburgh have fallen off and Cincinnati has won just 12 times on the road all year.
The NL West is chockfull of surprises in that the Dodgers are better than I thought, the Giants are worst than I thought, while the Diamondbacks and Rockies have far surpassed expectations, though the Rocks are in a free fall. And San Diego remains as perhaps the most boring team in baseball.
All eyes are now on July 31. That’s the trade deadline, a time when teams often mortgage the future for that one player they believe will get them over the top. And no team has more to offer than Kansas City, which is the team everybody will keep an eye on at the end of the month. The Royals are still in the hunt for the division and the wild-card, but I think they’re going to have to hope for the latter because Cleveland is just too talented to be spinning its wheels near the .500 mark. At some point it’s going to run off a streak of about 15-3 to take command of this division.
There’s just no super team this year as everybody has flaws. I know the Astros’ record is glossy, but they play in a weak division and their starting pitching is still suspect.
I’m one who sticks with their predictions. I has the Indians over the Cubs in the World Series at the start and I think that can still happen.