Did a win by the AL in the SSG Allstar game on Tuesday ensure home field advantage for the Rangers? The Angels? a .500 team in the AL East? And can anyone derail the Washington Nationals anyway in the NL?
So many questions as we get back into action today in SSG.
As of now it seems we’re heading to a Rangers-Nationals showdown as the teams are tied for the best record at the break. Some other clubs, some surprising, may have something to say come September though.
In the AL, as mentioned, the Rangers have the current advantage but the Los Angeles Angels, led by Garret Richards and his .271 ERA are only 1.5 games back and have a huge lead over the 2nd Wild Card team, the White Sox.
Chicago, in turn, is also only 3GB the AL Central leading Cleveland Spiders. The teams realistically in the hunt along with the teams above are the AL East leading Baltimore Orioles and Wild Card hopefuls Houston, Oakland, Toronto, and Detroit, who is also competing with Cleveland for the Central crown. Lastly, the defending AL champs the Boston Red Sox still have a chance because of the mediocrity of the AL East. They are only 4 back of the Orioles.
Some of the leaders in the AL at the halfway point are Mike Trout in the batting race (.357) but he is followed closely by Justin Upton (.346) who is also leading the AL in home runs with 24. Also, just out of the time machine is Albert Pujols with a huge lead in RBIs with 86!! All hail King Albert.
Along with ERA leader Richards for the Angels, Anthony DeSclafini, of the A’s is a surprise leader with wins. He sports an 11-3 record and a 2.94 ERA. His teammate Sean Doolittle is the current save leader in the AL with 28.
Over in the National League it seems sometimes like we’re all just waiting for the regular season and playoffs to be over so we can see who will play the Washington Nationals in the World Series. They have crushed the first half with a vengeance after having their season ended by the eventual champion Los Angeles Dodgers last fall. They have the best record in the NL and a 14 game lead over the rest of the field in the NL East. Even with the huge loss of off season acquisition Troy Tulowitzki, the Nats offensive numbers are video game-like. Getting through a lineup with the likes of Cano, Harper, and Zimmerman is a tall task for anyone. Zimmerman has an outside shot at the Triple Crown. He leads the league with 23 HRs and 67 RBI and has a .322 BA. We’re not even mentioning the pitching staff led by Stephen Strasborg and his 1.91 league leading ERA and 11-3 record.
Who can knock of the bullies? In the surprise of the season the Colorado Rockies have gone toe to toe all year recored-wise with the Nats and are currently only 1 game off the pace. How the hell………you ask? With a lineup that only has two members from a year ago, it’s leader, All-Star, Nolan Arenado, and DL resident Cory Dickerson, many are names the average fan wouldn’t recognize. Other than Arenado and his 65RBI, Ian Desmond (acquired in Tulo trade) and two young guns have led the charge. Klye Parker (not quite a rookie) has a .349 avg and 61 RBIs despite a 2 week stint on the DL, and rookie All-star catcher Tom Murphy has shocked the league with a .305 avg, 12 HR and 45 RBI. Ian Desmond has also done an amazing Tulowitzki impersonation with a BA of .339, 12 HR and 44 RBI.
Can the pitching and young kids hold up? Time will tell, but the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers will have much to say this fall, even though they are 3.5 behind Colorado. They currently have a huge 7 game lead over anyone who could knock them out of a Wild Card spot. Also secure in the other spot is the Chicago Cubs. They are also chasing division leader, another surprise given a rash of injuries, the Milwaukee Brewers. What they have been able to do the last year and a half is quietly one of the most amazing stories in the SSG. Scooter Gennett is among the league leaders in avg for the Brew Crew at .344
So those are your contestants in the NL: Washington, Colorado, Millwaukee, Los Angeles and Chicago. Unfortunately the rest of the field has a great deal of ground to make up and would need to make an epic 2nd half run to get back in the picture. The team playing the best baseball of late among these teams is probably the last place San Diego Padres at 7-3 in their last ten before the break.
To finish off the NL story a shout out goes to two stat leaders not mentioned : The old hand Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers with the strikeout lead at 168, and the resurrected Joel Hanrahan of the Cubs with the lead in saves at 25.
Feel free to add your predictions as comments but it will be hard to go against the Nats and Rangers as we start it back up in SSG!!! Good luck to all!