The Road to Prominence

In Around The League on August 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

With still over a month and half left till the post season, there can still be a lot of movement around the divisions to claim a playoff spot. A lot of teams haven’t been able to expand their division lead outside of the Texas Rangers. They are only team in baseball with a lead more than 5 games. It seems like their division rival Angels are not going to be making any ground on their own without some help. Rangers left fielder, Josh Hamilton, looks like he should win the MVP award. His .362 average is the best in baseball and he is on pace to crack the 100 RBI mark. Many Rangers fans hoped that pitcher Cliff Lee would be an automatic win when he takes the mound. Since his debut with the Rangers, Lee has gone 2-3 and his ERA has jumped .43 %. Come post season, Lee has been very dominate going 4-0 as he helped the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series. When in the playoffs, you only really need three good pitchers and a dominate closer to be successful. The Rangers do have three good pitchers but four of the five starters have zero playoff experience. Along with that their closer too has not seen the more beautiful side of October. This being said, the Rangers should still make a good run but I do not think they will make it past the ALCS.

The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays have identical records but the Rays would be crowned A.L. East Champions as they boast a 6-5 record vs the Bronx Bombers as of now. These two teams will face each other seven more times and unless the Red Sox make ground up, the AL East will be very interesting race to claim the crown.

While the Red Sox are only 5.5 out, their up and down play isn’t going to help them gain any ground. If they can get back on track, the rest of their schedule is very manageable. They face four teams with records under .500 and outside of the Yankees and Rays, they face two teams with winning percentage that barely clips the .510 mark. Josh Beckett has seemed to lost his dominance presence as he claims a 3-2 record with an ERA over 6. Lester and Bucholz have been very good this year but struggled as of lately. Dice-K who was once a dominate pitcher has been turned into a very good number three starter. Though he does boast an 8-4 record, his era is still way to0 high.

The Minnesota Twins have still been the hottest team in baseball since the All-Star break. They have only loss eight times while winning twenty-two. They currently have a three game lead over the White Sox. Their team batting average is an impressive .281 while being lead by Joe Mauer, Delmon Young and Justin Morneau. The Twins could make a solid playoff run too but like the Rangers their starters are not greatly experience. The White Sox seem to more of a gritty team that likes to grind it out day in and day out. They do have talent but their play doesn’t seem to be very polished at times. Their starters are not un hittable and their hitters are not overwhelmingly dangerous. With Ozzie Gullien being the coach, he will always have this team prepared every day.

The National League definitely has the more intriguing and tighter races in baseball. A week of baseball could make a huge difference in the division leaders. All the current division leaders have had their struggles but seem to find a way to win. In the NL East, it has been the Phillies  and Braves for the past two months while the Mets tried to contend but now have dropped 10 games out. The Braves currently lead the division by two and half games. They have been really good even with Chipper Jones being out with an ACL injury. Outside of the Reds, the NL top-tier teams are in the bottom half of run production while the AL elite are all in the top ten. When it comes to pitching though, three of the four top NL teams are 1-3 in overall pitching but the AL does also have all their top four teams in the top ten. The Phillies might have one of the best starting rotation as they were able to acquire Houston’s ex ace Roy Oswalt. They also have Roy Halladay who has been worth every penny since his trade from the Blue Jays.

The Central has been between the Reds and Cardinals from pretty much day one. Every other day it is either the Red Birds or the Reds leading. The Reds survive on great hitting with mediocre pitching while the Cardinals are opposite and have great pitching but their offense isn’t near what it use to be. Puljos is still a threat every game and Matt Holliday is still producing. It’s the players as Rasmus, Schumaker and Molina that are struggling this year. At the end of the day though when the season comes down to its finally games, the Cardinals pitching should prevail. Both Carpenter and Wainwright could win the Cy Young this year and Jamie Garcia as his first real year as a starter has been outstanding. This division will be the most exciting to watch because who ever wins will be in the NLCS and possibly a very good shot at the World Series.

The West has been the Padres for a while. While teams like the Dodgers, Giants and Rockies have been shuffling  all season to maintain distance, the Padres keep churning away. Their hitting has picked up while their pitching has been untouchable. They still ranked number one over all in pitching with a 3.23 ERA. Starting pitcher Mat Latos has been unbelievable as he has only surrender six runs in his last seven starts. The Padres hitting is so mediocre that despite them leading the division, they have scored the least amount of runs than any other team in their division. The Giants are only four games back but they seem to have trouble maintaining good play by anyone. One week it could be the pitching but then the offense struggles. Next week it would be vice versa. Lincecum has not lived up to his usually self and Barry Zito who started the season 6-1 has a  record of 8-6 now. Matt Cain still hasn’t been able to find consistency in his performance. He was able to extend his record to 6-4 with three straight winning performances. Then he followed that up with three straight losing starts. I think the Padres will be able to keep up their strong pitching and if their hitting still gets better, they will win this division.

This season definitely has the potential to be the most exciting as their will be tight finishes in nearly all the divisions. Also there will be some exciting playoff series as we might be seeing some new faces this year.


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