Tha Sports Junkies 101

American League Mid-Term Report

American League Frosteryd/ Via Flickr


American League

With the second half of the season ahead, here’s a quick look at the American League by Division

American League East

The Baltimore Orioles are pacing the American League East with a 51-36 record, while their bats have been quite hot so far this year the O’s are still looking for at least one more Starting Pitcher to help stabilize the rotation. The Boston Red Sox  currently sit second in the East, behind Baltimore by 2 games. They also have had their bats swinging quite hot, and still look for at least one more arm for the rotation and one more for the bullpen. Toronto is also only  2 games behind the O’s as the look to capitalize on a healthy line up that is finally hitting like many predicted. Buoyed by the a surprisingly strong rotation so far, the Blue Jays will look to add at least one arm to either the bullpen or rotation, dependent on the Aaron Sanchez saga. They have also been rumored to have interest in Jay Bruce to balance out a predominately right-handed line up. The New York Yankees sit 7.5 games behind Baltimore and 5.5 back of the wild card, fr the first time in a long time it looks as though the Yankees could be sellers at the deadline as they feel the weight of an aging core and a depleted farm system. Tampa Bay sits an abysmal 17.5 out of the East lead and 15.5 back of a wild card. The Rays will be looking to cash in on trading some of their pitchers and veterans for some prospects and continue the rebuild. The division will be fought among the Jays, Red Sox, and Orioles but Boston has the prospect capital to make a trade to sway the division in its favor.

Prediction: Red Sox win division, Jays take Wildcard, Baltimore falls just short of wildcard birth.

American League Central

A surprising Cleveland Indians squad now leads the Central, minus Michael Brantley, and amid an off-year for Corey Kluber. The Indians have staked themselves to a 6.5 game lead in the division despite two of their better players either not being on the field or not performing up to expectations. The Indians would benefit the most from Brantley returning but could be in the mix for an outfielder such as Jay Bruce or Melvin Upton Jr. The Detroit Tigers now sit second in the division after a mediocre first half. While they have the best pure hitter in Miguel Cabrera, the offense is now missing JD Martinez and has a struggling Justin Upton. The rotation has also been viewed as in need of a possible upgrade.  Rookie Michael Fulmer has stabilized a weak rotation that after Jordan Zimmermann’s brilliant start had gone bottoms up, ranking in the bottom third of the MLB in most pitching statistics as a team. The defending World Series Champion Kansas City Royals, sit 7 back of Cleveland but with some of their key contributors (Alex Gordon namely) healthy again, they could have a resurgence in this particularly weak division. Although the bullpen has been decimated by injuries this year and it’s strength the past few years, I would not be surprised to see the Royals trade for a starter or another reliever to help offset some of the inconsistencies. After a strong start the Chicago White Sox sit 7 games back of the division leading Indians as well, after acquiring James Shields, and exhausting it’s farm system they may be out of trade options, although they will look for an Outfield bat. The Minnesota Twins…well they sit dead last in the American league and the best they can hope for is for Sano to find his grove, as well as Buxton to play like the top prospect he once was.

Prediction: Indians take the Division with a healthy Brantley, Royals finish 2 games back

American League West

So Ian Desmond is arguably the best player on a FIRST place Texas Rangers squad, after learning the outfield in just ONE month in Spring training. Yes, Desmond along with Cole Hamels put the Rangers squad on their backs and led them to a first half division lead. Not entirely true, although they are missing 3/th’s of their starting rotation, and Fielder/Moreland aren’t contributing like years past, the Rangers are getting by on their strong bullpen, and a strong performance from many unlikely candidates. Sure Beltre is hitting like himself, and Andrus is around .300 but the impact of Mazara, and Odor (Not just his punches) has helped produce the third best record in baseball. Houston sits 5.5 back, in need of their ace Dallas Keuchel to pitch like last year and an outfield bat to help ease some of the pressure. They are expected to call up top prospect Alex Bregman and slot him in over at 3rd as an offensive injection to this line up only averaging 4.5 runs a game (good for 14th in the MLB). While the Astro’s would benefit the most from either a starting pitcher or an outfield bat, they may just stay the course and hope their guys can come out of their first half slumps. Seattle sits 8.5 games back of Texas amid a boatload of injuries, 9 players on the disabled list, none more notable than Felix Hernandez and Tajun Walker. If the Mariners have any chance of catching either Texas or Houston they need those two guys back on the rubber. That would be the biggest help the Mariners could get in their playoff push. Now to Oakland and Los Angeles,  both sit over 15 games out of the race, and both are expected to be sellers. Now to be fair the Angels have lost Richards, Heaney, and Wilson for the season, decimating an already thin pitching staff, an injury to C.J Cron basically sealed the fate on their season. The biggest name likely to be moved by the Angels will be closer Huston Street. The Athletics however have suffered a disastrous season from Sonny Gray, a non-existent offense and a slew of injuries. Could they have challenged for the division this year had they had an offense and Gray pitched well like Gray? No. Expect the A’s to try to trade Rich Hill, Danny Valencia, Jed Lowrie, and Josh Reddick.

Prediction: Rangers take the division, Houston claims second wild card

The American League does not have the same separation as their counterpart National League does, leaving a much more contested playoff race. There are really only about 4 teams that can be counted out of the playoffs and a few sit right on the bubble. Don’t be surprised if the American League East becomes the must watch division with just over 2 months left in the season.