Thursday, May 22, 2008

The 1/4 Mark

OK, we're a little over the quarter-mark of the MLB season. How are we doing on the predictions we made?

AL East: The Sox are where they should be, despite Ortiz batting .250 and Beckett pitching mediocre at best. The Yankees are struggling with their pitching and injuries, but expect them to start knocking balls all over the park by the time this month ends. And while I'm proud to say that when I predicted that the Rays "wouldn't be the punching bag of the AL East much longer," I'd didn't realize it would be by May. I also said Toronto would be in the race if they stayed healthy—as of right now, Vernon Wells, Casey Janssen, Jeremy Accardo, David Eckstein and 2 others are on the DL. And Scott Rolen looks a shell of himself. Baltimore is enjoying a nice pitching revival so far, but they don't have the bats for the long haul. Aside from Nick Markakis and Brady Anderson, no one in this lineup scares anyone.

Going Forward: While I expect the Yanks to come back and grab the Wild Card, the Rays might be for real. Right now.
AL Central: OK, so I was right and wrong in the AL Central. I said Detroit was overrated and had a lot of problems. Yippee on that one. And I said Cleveland was the big frontrunner for the playoff spot. OK, so that one hasn't worked out...yet. Detroit is right where I thought they would be...bloated lineup, poor infield defense (aside from Polanco) and horrible pitching. Granderson is in an extended slump. Nobody can get to Todd Jones for the 9th inning. And Gary Sheffield is a ghost. In Cleveland, after a bad start, Sabathia looks like he'll be back in form to lead a solid Indian rotation. The problem is no one is hitting. Aside from Victor Martinez, the Indians starting .BA is .250 and lower. Which leaves the surprising White Sox, who have gotten bounce-back years from Javier Vasquez and Jose Contreras and a fantastic year from Gavin Floyd. Good enough to lead the Central. The Royals have shown some signs from their younger players—Luke Hochevar is pitching well, Zach Grienke has been lights-out and Alex Gordon is looking like the face of the Royals for years to come—but they still don't have enough pop. As of Monday, they have only 16 HRS as a team; tied with Lance Berkman. In the spring I said Minnesota lost too much pitching...and I was right. Boof Bonser and Kevin Slowey do not make up for Johan Santana. Though Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez might make for a great defensive, and nice offensive outfield duo for years to come.

Going Forward: Cleveland pitchers calm down and catch up to the White Sox to win the division. The Royals become the team no one wants to face in Sept.
AL West: Looks like the Angels weathered their pitching injuries just fine. Despite John Lackey not pitching until this week and Kelvim Escobar out until at least July, the Angels still lead in the West (right where I said they'd be) because of twenty wins from the starting pitching combo of Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, Jon Garland and Jered Weaver. Oh and Torii Hunter has fit in just fine out west. Seattle, on the other hand is way underwhelming. They have a great three-man rotation in Eric Bedard, Felix Hernandez and Carlos Silva—too bad you need a five-man rotation. And their hitting has been atrocious: Richie Sexton .200 BA, Jose Vidro, .207 BA, Adrien Beltre .241 BA. That's close to 40 million for a lot of nothing. Throw in another 20 million for Washburn and Batista's north-of 6.00 ERA and you got a team that is underachieving. And like the Rays, while I predicted the A's to surprise a few teams this year, I honestly didn't think it would happen in May. Following the Oakland Athletic staple of great starting pitching (not one of the 6 main starters they've used this year has an ERA higher than 3.69), they are bettering a .500 winning percentage this year. Texas is likewise surprising a few people this year with a surprisingly solid starting pitching staff—Vincente Padilla had dropped his ERA almost 3 points from last year to lead a pitching staff without it's star, Kevin Millwood who's out with injury. Josh Hamilton—who has been playing out of his mind so far this far, is the absolute star on offense—he already has 51 RBI this season. They have been undermined however, by sloppy field play—40 errors through Monday's games.

Going Forward: Nobody puts a serious threat to the Angels, who coast into the playoffs.

Tomorrow: The National League

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