Toronto Blue Jays (14-6): The Jays just keep winning, I’m not entirely sure how.
I mean, Roy Halladay is being his normal dominant self (4-0, 32 strikeouts), but the rest of the staff is also doing well, and that makes the Jays dangerous.
Second baseman Aaron Hill has already eclipsed his homerun total from last season (two last year versus five thus far) and is two RBIs away from equaling last seasons total. He is also hitting .367.
In addition, shortstop Marco Scutaro is on pace to eclipse all of his career bests, hitting four homers and driving in 13 runs as of press time (his career highs are 9 and 60).
Boston Red Sox (11-6): The Sox have now won ten games in a row (yes, that’s right), and have to be considered the team to beat in this division.
Kevin Youkilis is leading MLB in batting average, hitting .444. There is not an aspect of his game that I can honestly find fault with. He does it all, offensively and defensively, and is also an excellent clubhouse presence I’m told.
The pitching staff needs to get completely on track to make this team truly great, but they are doing a good job thus far.
New York Yankees (9-8): The team spent about a quarter of a billion dollars to bring in AJ Burnett and CC Sabathia, and that’s paid of to a point. They are a combined 3-1, but have a combined ERA of 5.14. Something tells me Yankee fans won’t like that.
Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher have all been pounding the ball, and that’s good news for the Bronx Bombers. The bad news is that bonus baby Mark Texiera is hitting .218.
Baltimore Orioles (9-10): There’s a few guys hitting in Maryland (Aubrey Huff, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis), but the pitching staff is flat. That is the reason Baltimore will reside near or at the bottom of the division for the remainder of the season.
Tampa Bay Rays (7-12): The defending AL champs gotta get it together, plain and simple.
Noteworthy however, is 1B Carlos Pena leading MLB in home runs with eight.
Detroit Tigers (10-8) : No one expected the tigers to be here. Yes, they have a lot of young hungry pitchers, but this was to be a rebuilding year in my eyes. A year to get those guys on track to make a big run next year.
Curtis Granderson (6 homers 12 RBIs) and Brandon Inge (.323, 7 homers, 17 RBIs) have eclipsed Miguel Cabrera as the offensive spark plugs of this team, which is pretty shocking to say the least.
On the hill, Armando Galarraga has been a revelation, going 3-0 over 24.1 innings with an enemic 1.85 ERA. Things are looking up for this Tigers staff, and that bodes badly for the rest of the Central.
Chicago White Sox (9-9): The Pale Hosers are holding onto this spot by the skin of their teeth at the moment, They did not have a good week, going 2-4, and really need to get back on track.
Carlos Questin and Jermaine Dye are having good seasons thus far, and that will need to continue. Quentin will need to put together a 35 HR, 130 RBI season for his effort to be considered worthwhile.
Mark Buerhle (3-0) and John Danks (2-0, 0.95 ERA) have looked excellent, and that is a great sign for the Sox. If those two can put together decent seasons, then Chicago has a legitimate shot at winning this division.
Kansas City Royals (9-9): I stand by last week’s assertion that the Royals would be serious contenders. Zack Greinke is flat out the best pitcher in MLB right now, and he is showing everyone that the Royals are for real, and not to be taken lightly.
Greinke, currently 4-0 with a 0.00 (yes, that’s right) ERA is dominating opposing batters, leading the Al in strikeouts with 36.
First baseman and DH Mike Jacobs is contributing a lot offensiely, hitting four homers and driving in 12 runs. however, like his former Marlins teammate Dan Uggla, Jacobs has a low batting average (.246) and needs to get that on track before he can be considered an elite player.
Minnesota Twins (9-10): Oh, the Twins. What will Minnesota do with them?
As usual, Justin Morneau is putting together an excellent campaign, but it has been the play of OF Jason Kubel (.328, 4 homers, 15 RBIs) that has people talking positively about the Twins. And any talk about the Twins isn’t usually positive these days, so that’s a huge plus.
Everyone expected Francisco Liriano to be a stud pitcher this season. So far he’s 0-4, and doesn’t seem that way. Conversely, young Kevin Slowey is 3-0 and is looking pretty good.
Cleveland Indians (7-12): I really counted on the Indians to be dominant this season. I’m not entirely sure what’s gone wrong.
Grazy Sizemore and Victor Martinez are killing the ball, but the Tribe’s pitching staff just can’t seem to get it together enough to aid in the Indians winning games.
They’re not too far out of it yet, but do need to put together a couple of good weeks in order to gain some ground on Detroit and Chicago, who I believe will fall off eventually.
However, the schedule does not favor the Indians, who play Boston, Detroit and Toronto over the course of the next week and a half.
Seattle Mariners (12-7): A good week for the Mariners as they go 4-2 to stay atop the West. Ichiro has been magnificent since returning from the DL, hitting .333, and is putting up decent power numbers thus far, already hitting two dingers. Second baseman Jose Lopez leads the team with 12 RBIs, while Russell Branyan is tops with four homers.
The Mariners pitching staff has been a revelation thus far, with Felix Hernandez and Jarrod Washburn both racking up three wins apiece, while Erik Bedard is currently ranked second in the AL with 29 strikeouts, two more than Hernandez.
Texas Rangers (8-10): The Rangers are staying afloat so far, but just barely. After leading the league in runs scored last season, the Rangers have scored three or more runs in all but three games this season. Second baseman Ian Kinsler has been a big reason why.
Currently batting .559, and ranked second in the AL with seven homers, and ranked third in RBIs, with 20, Kinsler is off to the hot start that Rangers fans had hoped he would be. If he keeps up these numbers, he alone makes the Rangers competitive. Add in the way that Nelson Cruz, Michael Young and Hank Blaylock have been hitting, and Texas could be very dangerous.
Oakland Athletics (7-10): No offense to A’s fans, but this is not gonna be your year. Sure, Oakland can put together a good game or two everyone once and awhile, but they will likely finish in the cellar come season’s end.
Only one everyday position player is hitting above .500 (C Kurt Suzuki, .333), and no player has more than two homers. The offense on this team is non-existent, and they have been lucky to pull off seven wins, especially with no help coming from their pitching staff, which is currently a disaster.
Los Angeles Angels (7-11): There’s is still a ton of hope for the Angels, and no one should give up on them yet. Vlad’s still hurt, and though the pitching situation seems dire, it should right itself shortly with Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders shaking off the rust, and ace Ervin Santana returning from the DL soon.
Torii Hunter has put up great numbers thus far, hitting .338 with seven homers and 14 RBIs, which in Guerrero’s absence, is a complete necessity. Second baseman Howie Kendrick is coming along slowly, but should break out within the next couple of weeks with a major surge.
Florida Marlins (11-7): It was bound to happen, at it has already begun. The Marlins, who started the season blisteringly hot, have begun their steady fall to the middle, losing six straight, being swept by the Pirates and Phillies. Sure, they’re atop the NL East, but for how long? Philly have been hot lately, and the Mets aren’t going to stay down forever.
I chalk this up to inexperience, especially among the young pitchers. I expected a fall around mid-season, but it seems to be happening far earlier than that.
Second baseman Dan Uggla could be an elite player in MLB, since his offensive numbers (4 homers and 16 RBIs) are very impressive. However, what’s really offensive is his .231 batting average.
Philadelphia Phillies (9-8): This team had a good week, going 4-2 overall. Offensively, it’s surprising free agent Raul Ibanez leading the way for the Phillies, batting .324 with 5 homers and 12 RBIs. The usual suspects (Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Shane Victorino) have 40 RBIs between them. However, superstar SS Jimmy Rollins is batting .162 thus far, which should be a major concern for Philadelphia.
Forget Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton, guys who are known to have pretty big numbers, it’s all about seemingly 77-year old Jamie Moyer (he’s really 46) and reliever Clay Condrey. Moyer is currently 3-1 while Condrey is 3-0 in 10 appearances for Philly.
Atlanta Braves (9-9): Atlanta is holding on right now, but can they keep it up?
No one has been very impressive at the plate for the Braves, and the same can be said about their pitching staff. Derrick Lowe was brought in to save this team, but he’s only human. He’ll need help from Javier Vasquez and Jair Jurrgens if this team has any hopes of making a real run.
New York Mets (8-10): A perennial disappointment it seems. the Mets are hardly out of it at this point, but seriously, weren’t they supposed to be far better than this?
Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo are first and second respectively in the NL in batting average, but that has not translated to success for New York. This teams gets a lot of hits, but also leaves a small army on the bases each and every inning. That needs to change, and quickly.
As usual, Johan Santana has been brilliant, but he can’t carry this pitching staff alone. he needs help, so the Mets arms had better wake up.
Washington Nationals (4-13): What else can really be said about the Nationals at this point? They’re an absolutely abysmal team. I don’t think that I’ve ever advocated a fire-sale before, but I’d recommend one now….but what does Washington have that’s worth buying?
St. Louis Cardinals (13-6): The Cards have been on fire this week, finishing it 5-1. This division will likely come down to the Cards and Cubs, and right now it certainly seems like St. Louis has the huge advantage.
Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick have combined to sock 12 dingers and 44 runs batted in while hitting .338. They are first and third respectively in the NL in RBIs.
The pitching staff has been excellent, led by the rejuvenated Kyle Lohse and Joel Pineiro, who are a combined 6-0.
Pittsburgh Pirates (11-7): Wow is all that I can say here. The Bucs have gone 5-1 this week, and have put a look of disbelief on the faces of opponents and fans alike.
Adam LaRoche and Nate McLouth have looked fantastic at the plate, while Pat Maholm is 3-0 with an ERA just over two. Zach Duke is 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA. Shocking, absolutely shocking.
Cincinnati Reds (10-8): The Reds have been turning some heads of late, and with the young pitching staff that they boast, could be doing that for years to come.
Jay Bruce and Joey Votto are two young talented position players that could be All-Stars for many years to come.
Cincy will win a whole lot more games than people think that they will, but still don’t have even a remote shot to win this division.
Chicago Cubs (9-8): They might be a game above .500, but the Cubs are probably one of the biggest disappointments thus far short of the Mets. The Cubs pitching staff, excellent on paper, has been simply mediocre.
Aaron Heilman has been ok so far, but Met fans are salivating awaiting what they hope to be his eventual unraveling, justifying their team trading him away.
Milwaukee Brewers (8-10): The Brewers looked good this week, but when you really look at them, they, like most of the teams in this division, have no realistic shot at beating the Cardinals or Cubs down the stretch.
Ryan Braun is a quality player, and is a real threat to any team tha the Brewers play. Trade bait perhaps?
Houston Astros (7-12): I’m a little bit surprised that the ‘Tros are in the cellar. They have a very talented batting order, and a decent pitching staff.
The key thus far has been the sub-par play of Lance Berkman, who is hitting just .167.
The pitching staff, supposedly led by Roy Oswalt (0-2, 4.68 ERA), struggles on a nightly basis, and has no real bright spot at the moment (maybe the 2-0 Russ Ortiz, who hasn’t been successful since 2005). That could change once Oswalt and Co. get on track, which for Houston, I hope that they do.
Los Angeles Dodgers (13-6): The Dodgers on on top again this week, due in large part to the surprising play of OF Andre Either, who is near the top of NL leaderboard in homers and RBIs. Matt Kemp and Manny Ramirez have put together respectable numbers so far, and that should continue.
The pitching staff is lacking an explosive number one guy, but is serviceable, and gets the job done on a regular basis. Chad Billingsley is excellent, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not ready to label him a dominant ace just yet. If he continues his current level of play for a few more weeks, and I might be forced to change my mind.
San Diego Padres (10-8): The Padres had a bad week, going 1-4, but should still be able to hang with the Dodgers for the remainder of the season. This is really anyone’s division, and probably will be the colsest contested come season’s end.
Reliever Cla Meredith ha been a bright spot, earning three victories in only 6.1 innings of work. Jake Peavy has been less than thrilling, but he’ll turn that around. Aces always do.
San Francisco Giants (8-9): With a stellar week, the Giants moved out of the West Cellar, and into the middle of the pack.
The main thing keeping the Giants afloat right now is their pitching, and even that isn’t too great.
Matt Cain has looked pretty good, going 2-0 so far, while Tim Lincecum and Randy Johnson have looked decent. People discount Johnson, saying he can no longer be dominant, but I still say that he could win 10 games and make a huge impact with this team.
Arizona Diamondbacks (7-11): The Dbacks have been a bit of a disappointment this season, but that can be attributed to ace Brandon Webb spending time on the DL and some of the young payers still trying to find their offensive legs.
Third baseman Mark Reynolds is a hot hitter, but still needs to put the ball in play a good deal more in order to really start punishing the other teams in the division. He could be a true superstar if that happens.
Colorado Rockies (6-11): The Rockies aren’t fooling anyone, and I don’t mean that to be complimentary. More than likely, they will sit in the NL West basement collecting dust for the remainder of the season.
Pitcher Jason Marquis has been a bright spot for the Rockies though, going 3-1 while pitching a team high 26.1 innings.