The Fourth of July is considered the halfway point of the Major League Baseball season and like I’ve done for over 35 years I’ll use this opportunity to speculate on what could be in store for the rest of the summer.
As of today (Friday, July 5) if the season ended Boston, Detroit, Oakland, Baltimore and Texas would be the American League play-off teams. Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Arizona, St. Louis, and Cincinnati would represent the National League.
I feel in the American League Boston will hold on to their top spot in the East because the Red Sox continue to get timely hitting and pitching that just seems to stay with them. Baltimore may not make it in spite of the year Chris Davis and Manny Machado are having because the Yankees and the Rays are plenty capable of surpassing the Orioles.
The Yankees could have Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez back. There is no telling what kind of moral boost that would be. Also, wily starting left-handers Andy Pettitte and C.C. Sabathia are having good years and Mariano Rivera is still one of the game’s top relievers.
Detroit will stay atop the Central. Starting pitchers Max Scherzer, Jason Verlander and Doug Fister are as good as anybody has and Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are as good of run producers as anybody can have. Cleveland has given the Tigers a run in the Central thus far but I think the Indians will fade.
Oakland continues to do the most with the less. They and Texas will fight it out for the division West the rest of the way and the one that finishes second will probably get a wild card spot.
I still think the Angels could make a run in the West. Albert Pujois, Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton will get hot bats but the Haloes need some hot pitching to go with the bats, and right now they don’t seem to have it.
In the National League, Atlanta’s young guns are the class of the East. The Braves have only six players over 30 years of age on their roster.
If Bryce Harper is recovered from injury the Nationals could close the gap on Atlanta, but right now it looks like youth will prevail.
Pittsburgh right now has the best record of any team in the majors. The Pirates are a fun bunch with Andrew McCutchen leading an everyday line-up and Jason Grille seeming to come out of the bullpen for a save everyday. Russell Martin joining the team sure hasn’t hurt as he has brought a leadership dimension to the Bucs.
St. Louis and Cincinnati are pretty close to the Pirates in the Central Division and will stay that way the rest of the summer.
This division seems to be a lock to have three playoff teams.
The West doesn’t seem to be a lock for anyone. Only four games separate the division’s five teams and who will win it is anybody’s guess.
I still like the Giants in this division because of their pitching staff and Buster Posey.
My feelings are Boston, Detroit, Oakland and Texas will continue to play playoff baseball in the American League but the Yankees will eventually nudge the Orioles from the playoff picture.
In the National League, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Cincinnati will continue to have playoff years. San Francisco will replace Colorado for the fifth spot when the playoffs begin.
That’s what I think, but there is still half a season to go and injuries and long winning and losing streaks can change the picture, which is what well might happen.