Just under 50 games into the season and we still have a few surprising teams leading their divisions.
My predictions of the Yankees, Tigers, Angels, Marlins, Reds and Giants winning their divisions is not looking good, but I’m still confident in all of them, except the Giants and the Angels.
There is still over 100 games remaining and a lot of big bats on teams were cold for the first 30 or so games, but have started to heat up since.
In the AL East, the Orioles have indeed looked good, but you have to remember their ace is Jason Hammel. In his seventh season, Hammel has a career ERA of 4.84 and has never won more than 10 games. The rest of the staff features guys like Brian Matusz (5.43 career ERA), Wei-Yin Chen (Rookie), Jake Arrieta (4.87 career ERA) and Tommy Hunter (4.58 career ERA). Unless these pitchers step up and pitch better than they have in their careers, the Orioles will start to drop down the standings in the division very soon.
In the AL Central, the Indians are the most surprising first place team to me. Three pitchers have over a 4.60 ERA and the other two have a 3.25 and 3.94 ERA. With the bats, only one man is batting over .300 and the team is batting .245. The Indians also have a better winning percentage on the road than they do at home. The moral of the story is the Indians are not going to have first for much longer and I would bet once they lose it, they will lose it for good.
Down in the AL West, the hot bats of the Rangers continue to destroy that division and the pitching has been surprisingly good as well. With guys like Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler to name a few, the Rangers will always score the runs, but like the other division leaders, their pitching is what might hurt them. MIGHT. Yu Darvish holds a 3.05 ERA and has won six games and Colby Lewis has a 3.58 ERA, but the other three starters have over 4 ERAs and have not looked good. But what has saved all the pitchers is the bullpen. A 2.87 ERA from Mark Lowe is the highest in the pen and three of the other relieves have below 2.0 ERAs. Neftali Feliz is on the disabled list right now, but Nolan Ryan said he will rejoin the pen when he comes back, which gives them even more depth. This Rangers team is loaded and I should have never thought the Angels would deny them of their third straight AL West crown.
On the other side in the National League, the NL East Nationals are commanding the division. Unlike the AL teams, the Nationals are dominating with their staff. All five starters have ERAs below 3.4, two have below 3.0 ERAs and the leader Gio Gonzalez has a 1.98 ERA. With the bats, none of the Nationals have a .300 average and besides Adam LaRoche’s 35 RBIs, only one player has at least 20 RBIs and the rest have between 10-15. I think the bats are going to be the reason the Nationals don’t win the division, but they will win the wild card. Count on it.
In the NL Central, the Reds hold a 1.5 lead of first over the old Cardinals. For the Reds, they have had ups and downs with bats and pitching. Johnny Cueto has posted a solid 2.53 ERA with 5 wins and the veteran Bronson Arroyo has a 3.22 ERA and is pitching very well. Mat Latos has struggled keeping the ball in the park, but has started to find it in his last few starts. The biggest bright spot on the staff though has to go to Aroldis Chapman. 0 RUNS GIVEN UP. Chapman has destroyed everything in his path and has only given up seven hits in 24.1 innings and has struck out 43 to his seven walks. Moral of the story is Chapman can’t be hit. With the bats, the consistent Joey Votto is on fire batting over .320 with eight jacks and over 30 RBIs. Jay Bruce can destroy the ball as well when he doesn’t go into huge slumps and he leads the team with 11 long balls and 30 RBIs. The Reds have a lot of players than can produce all over and they are hungry for a division championship.
And finally in the NL West, the Dodgers hold the best record in baseball and a 7.5 game lead on first and I have no clue how. The Dodgers staff is full of veterans that are past their “’prime,” but they don’t know that. Chris Capuano (who is on my fantasy team so he better continue doing this) has won six games and has a 2.25 ERA. Ted Lilly just got blown up in his last start, but still has a 3.14 ERA with five wins. And the young ace Clayton Kershaw of course has a sub 2.00 ERA. With the bats, Matt Kemp was on a tear until he got hurt with a .359 average, 12 home runs and 28 RBIs. But Andre Ethier has been picking up the slack with a .323 average with nine jacks and 41 RBIs. The most surprising bat though has been catcher A.J. Ellis who continues to destroy the ball with a .317 average with 5 jacks and 23 RBIs. The Dodgers will probably hit a slump when this old pitchers start to fall apart, but I think they have enough to hold the lead once Kemp comes back and win the division.
Looking into the future, I predict that the AL playoff picture will have the Yankees, Rangers, Tigers, Angels and Red Sox apart of it and in the NL it will be the Reds, Dodgers, Marlins, Nationals and Cardinals. The Rangers will win the AL again and face the Marlins in the World Series and this time the Rangers will win it all.