AL First Half Review

13 Jul

by Scott Peterson

AL East

Boston Red Sox (55-35) 1st Place

After a horrendous 2-10 start, the Boston Red Sox put the rest of the American League on notice.  Despite DL stints by John Lester, John Lackey, Clay Bucholtz, and Carl Crawford, the Sox won 10 of their last 11 to lead the AL East by 1 game.  With Adrian Gonzalez looking as advertised and Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz rounding out a powerful top half of the line up, look for the Boston Red Sox to continue their winning ways and win the AL East.

New York Yankees (53-35) 2nd Place

The New York Yankees surprised me in the first half this year because I expected their pitching to put them in a deep hole.  With Phil Hughes gone for most of the season and retreads and novices like Freddia Garcia,Bartolo Colon, and Ivan Nova manning the rotation, I expected a dip.  However, the Yanks hung in there and you could make the argument that it was in fact their pitching that kept them on top of the AL East for much of the first half.  With Alex Rodriguez out for 4-6 weeks with a partially torn meniscus, look for the Yankees to be a bit uneven in the 2nd half, but clinch the wild card.

Tampa Bay Rays (49-41) 3rd Place

The Rays were respectable in the first half of the season.  With the losses of Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Jason Bartlett, and Matt Garza, we expected more of a drop off from the financially challenged Rays.  Look for Tampa Bay to be sellers at the trade deadline and for hot shot outfield prospect Desmond Jennings to be called up mid August. Jennings would already be up if it wasn’t for the stellar 1st half performance by Sam Fuld.  Yes I said it, career journey man Sam Fuld is arguably the Rays mid season MVP.  But we all know what happens when the clock strikes midnight.  Yes Sam Fuld, it’s pumpkin time.

Toronto Blue Jays (45-47) 4th Place 

Jose Bautista. Jose Bautista. Jose Bautista.  Is there anything else we really need to cover when it comes to the Toronto Blue Jays.  Where did this guy come from? Bautista is batting .334 with 31 home runs, 73 runs and 65 rbi’s.  Come on man. That is mind boggling and as Steve will tell you, the steroid announcement should come any day now.  Seriously, the only reason to watch the Jays in the second half is to see what Mr. Bautista will do.

Baltimore Orioles (36-52) 5th Place

The Orioles closed the first half by losing 7 in a row and 13 of their last 14.  What a train wreck. Buck Showalter isn’t doing a lot of talking now is he? Brian Roberts has been his usual “on the DL”  self.  Nick Markakis continues to be extremely overrated. Brian Matusz and Zach Britton have both been so bad that they’ve been optioned back to Triple A. Why am I still writing about the Baltimore Orioles?

AL Central

Detroit Tigers (49-43) 1st Place

Justin Verlander hasn’t just pitched the Detroit Tigers into first place, he’s been the best pitcher on the planet.  With solid middle of the order bats like Victor Martinez and Brennan Boesch surrounding mega star Miguel Cabrera, I see no reason the Tigers can’t win the Central.  If Max Scherzer can settle down, they could be a playoff sleeper.

Cleveland Indians (47-42) 2nd  

To me, the Cleveland Indians were the surprise of the 1st half.  The Indians are a half game out of first after leading the division pretty much the whole season.  Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Brantley have been huge in the hitting department, while Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin have stepped it up in the pitching department.  My one problem is Fausto Carmona.  What happened to this guy? he was a beast 2 years ago and now he looks like a pitcher in the Home Run Derby.  If Pronk and Grady Sizemore can stay healthy, and their pitching continues to be a strength, I see no reason why the Cleveland Indians can’t stay in the race for the Central.  I can’t believe I just typed that.

Chicago White Sox (44-48) 3rd Place

Here is a classic case of a team just underachieving.  Adam Dunn and Alex Rios have been absolutely atrocious.  Combine that with pitchers Gavin Floyd and John Danks having subpar years, and you have the White Sox as one of the most disappointing teams in baseball. There isn’t much more to say.

Minnesota Twins (41-48) 4th Place

It is amazing that the Twins are only 6.5 games out of first place.  With Joe Mauer missing much of the first half of the season and being a shell of his former self , Justin Morneau having neck surgery and Delmon Young concussed and on the DL, these Twinkies are starting to resemble the Twins that are always in the playoff discussion.  One reason for the Twins battling back is Michael Cuddyer.  he has been an absolute animal as of late, I know this because he is on my fantasy baseball team.  I am a witness and a member of the Michael Cuddyer fan club.  Can Minnesota make a run and get back in this? We shall see.

Kansas City Royals (37-54) 5th Place  

Even know the Kansas City Royals are in dead last place in the Al Central, looks can be deceiving.  This team is absolutely loaded and there is more help on the way.  Eric Hosmer is my AL Rookie of the Year.  They just called up 3b Mike Moustakas, SP Danny Duffy and they have stud SP prospect Mike Montgomery on the way.  Combine that with the resurgance of Alex Gordon, Frenchy, and Melky Cabrera and the Royals are in most games.  There isn’t a lot of talking about what they are doing, but more of what they are becoming.  Look out American League.

AL West

Texas Rangers (51-41) 1st Place 

The Texas Rangers are always in the news and for the most part, it’s never good.  From the most recent death of fan Shannon Stone falling to his death trying to retreive a ball thrown in the stands by outfielder Josh Hamilton, to Hamilton breaking his collarbone in a home plate collison, the Rangers have and will have to overcome more adversity as the season progresses. The Rangers have the benefit of playing in an extremely weak division.  With their star power of John Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre, the Rangers should be able to overcome inconsistent pitching and be in a position to return to the ALCS.

LA Angels (50-42) 2nd Place

The sneaky offensive starved Angels are only 1 game back.  With the loss of Kendry and Kendrys Morales, I fully expected the Angels to be below average.  They have ridden Mark Trumbo’s AL Rookie leading 17 hrs to more than make up for the loss of Morales.  Vernon Wells is starting to heat up and Howie and Howard Kendrick have been solid all year long.  The big story is Mr. Jered Weaver.  When is this guy going to get respect? He is a top 5 pitcher that continues to dominate.  He is going to have to for the LA Angels to stay in this race.

Seattle Mariners (43-48) 3rd Place

The Seattle Mariners have deifinitely been respectable this season.  Rookie SP Michael Pineda would be my choice of rookie of the year if it wasn’t for Eric Hosmer.  Rookie 2b Dustin Ackley has been nothing but productive since he was called up from Triple A a little over a month ago and King Felix has been his usual solid self.  The problem with the Mariners is that they just don’t have enough offense to compete in the AL West.  Seattle is a nice little team on the rise, but not much else to talk about today.

Oakland Athletics (39-53) 4th Place

Is Moneyball dead?  The A’s have been pretty mediocre for the past 5 years.  Quick, can you name me 5 players in their line up?  Aside from their young stud pitchers like Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, are we going to get worked up over Josh “The Hammer” Willingham or Hideki Matsui? No..what about Coco Crisp?  Do you see what I am getting at here.  Billy Beane has to work around his pitching and revamp a completely vanilla line up if they have any chance to contend in the next few years.

Midseason Awards

AL MVP- Adrian Gonzalez

Cy Young- Justin Verlander

Rookie of the year- Eric Hosmer

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Posted by on July 13, 2011 in Baseball, Scott Peterson, Sports


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