Has it really been two months? Wow, time really flies. One minute it’s opening day, the next minute the Mets are on an 11 game win streak, the next minute….they aren’t. You get where I’m going. A lot of stuff has happened. So, since we’re 1/3 of the way through baseball season and I need to take my mind off the Rangers, let’s talk baseball. More specifically, let’s talk awards season, because nothing gets my blood pumping like some good ‘ol fashion speculation and predictions based on nothing but my perceptions. So, without further ado, let’s get to it.
I really, really, really want to put the Mets here, and if this were the beginning of May and not June I probably could, but the Astros have just been too good. They’re 31-20 at the moment and hold a firm grip on the AL West. Dallas Keuchel might be one of the best pitchers in the majors at the moment, he’s 7-1 with a 1.76 ERA. The Astros lead the league in the longball, as they’ve bombed 68 dingers so far this season. Thet’ve been dominant on the mound as well, as they are in the top 10 in the league in WHIP (1st), ERA (7th), AVG. against (6th) and runs against (8th). Houston is way ahead of schedule and this could be a team that only gets better.
Runner up: Minneasota Twins
Is there really any question here? The Marlins are a joke. At the beginning of the year, some people were picking them as dark horse World Series team. The World Series?!?!?! Two weeks ago, the Marlins fired their manager, and the GM decided, ah what the hell, managing can’t be that hard, and he gave himself the job. I feel for Giancarlo Stanton. I don’t think he knew that signing a billion dollar contract with Jeff Lauria was the equivalent to a deal with the devil. Now he’s stuck in Florida for the best days of his career, wasting away. Ew, Florida…….
Runner up: Boston Red Sox
Division and Wild Card Predictions
AL East- New York Yankees
AL Central- Detroit Tigers
AL West- LA Angels
Wild Card I- Houston Astros
Wild Card II- Kansas City Royals
In the AL East I have the Yankees putting it back together and finishing off the weak competition that is the rest of the East. I don’t think the Yankees are great, but I think they’re better than what they’ve been the last two weeks. It wouldn’t surprise me if Baltimore made a run.
In the Central I have los Tigres. I don’t believe the Twins are going to be able to play this way the rest of the season. There isn’t much backing up their success. They’re behind the Tigers and Royals in run differential, they’re behind them in hitting, and almost every major pitching stat. Maybe the change of a voice in the locker room is a real thing, but I can’t see that with my own eyes. The Tigers and Royals are proven commodities. I think the Tigers will edge it out, but that really could come down to the wire.
I know, I just made the Astros my most surprising team, why don’t I have them winning the AL West? Well, for one, they don’t have Mike Trout. He might be the best baseball player of the last decade and I don’t care how well the Astros are playing right now, they’re still a very young team that is bound to hit a rough stretch later this year. It’s a long, long season, and I just don’t see the Astros being able to hold off the Angels for the next 4 months.
That being said, I think it’s going to be a tight race to the finish, maybe even (hopefully) needing a one game playoff. But, I think the ‘stros will be finishing right behind the Angels, but there’ll still be playoff ball in Houston. I also have the Royals edging out the Rays for the final spot. I don’t think Minnesota’s a legit threat right now, they’re hot, but not Hansel hot. The Royals are coming off a World series appearance, and have one of the most overlooked things in baseball. Depth. This Royals team is 25 deep, and can beat anybody on any night.
NL East- Washington Nationals
NL Central- St. Louis Cardinals
NL West- San Fransisco Giants
Wild Card I- New York Mets
Wild Card II- Chicago Cubs
What? Did you think I was gonna make the Mets the East winner? C’mon, I’m biased, not stupid. The Nationals will edge out the Mets, I’ll admit that. The Nats have the team right now that the Mets are hoping to have when they get healthy. The Nationals are a better regular season team. I don’t think they’ll run away with it, because the Mets will be playing meaningful games in September, so I’d say Washington takes the NL East by 2 or 3 games.
The Cardinals win the Central every year, they go to the NLCS every year, and they pretty much make it to or win the World Series every year. This isn’t a fun prediction, because I hate, hate, the Cardinals with all my bones, but Pittsburgh or Chicago aren’t making enough noise to dethrone the Cards. They’re the best team in baseball and there’s no reason to think otherwise. They lead the league in run differential at +60, and are in the top 10 or top five for almost every major pitching and hitting stat.They have four players in their lineup hitting above .300, including Matt Carpenter, who’s added 8 bombs and 27 RBI to the mix. They have an impenitrable bullpen, led by closer Trevor Rosenthal, boasting a 0.74 ERA this year and 15 saves, along with a 1.08 WHIP.
It’s a two team race for the NL West, and I think the story is going to stay the same. There’s a reason the Giants have won 2 champonships in four years, and it’s not luck. It’s because they’re like the New York football Giants (when they used to be good). It doesn’t matter how a season starts (it started really bad), they know that once the weather starts to get cooler, they start to play better. They’ll win the West because they’ll zero in on it come September and probably win it by 4 or 5 games. I love the resurgence of Tim Lincicum (even though he got shelled Sunday), Buster Posey is not even arguably the best catcher in baseball, he just is. Brandon Crawford has belted 7 homers and driven in 35 RBI at shortstop (he still can’t touch Wilmer), and the pitching has been great of late with Bumgarner playing better.
All hail the Wild card. Where the Mets actually have a chance. I’m giving the Mets the first spot because of the power of positive thinking. But really, they’ve put themselves in a spot where it isn’t that crazy to think that they’ll be there come October. The battle cry of the season is that help is on the way, but this team isn’t helpless right now. Best case scenario: The Mets get back Wright, d’arnaud, Parnell, Mejia and Black and everything is all candy and roses and they win the NL East. Logic says that probably won’t happen. God knows what’s happening with Wright, d’arnaud won’t be back for a few weeks, but he’s going to be a huge help. If the help in the bullpen is able to return strong, that’ll really give this team a chance moving forward. I’m giving the Cubs the second spot because they’re a hot and cold team that I think is going to get hot enough to make the playoffs. They finally have an ace in Lester, the young kids are up, and this guy Kris Bryant is for rizzeal. The only concerning thing right now is that they’re -2 in run differential (I put a lot of weight in that), but that’ll change.
Bryce Harper- Washington Nationals
The legend that is Bryce Harper continues to grow. 1/3 of the way through the season and the 22 year old, yes you heard me right, 22 year old, is hitting .325 with 18 HR and 43 RBI. That’s on pace for roughly 50 HR’s and 130 RBI. This guy is two years older than me. He’s hitting home runs 10 million feet, and I’m writing about him hitting home runs 10 million feet. Jeez. But this guy is unreal, he’s one of the few guys in baseball who is must see TV when he is at the plate. I also love his cocky, I don’t give a shit about what you think about me, attitude. It’s awesome. It’s setting up for a great rivalry with Mike Trout. Trout’s the good guy who’ll stay three hours after the game signing autographs and taking pictures. Trout is the guy who always is smiling. Trout is the West coast, LA type. Bryce is the type of guy that takes your lunch money. Bryce is the type of guy who steals your girl. Bryce is east coast. He’s tough, he’s mean, and I love it. I hate that he’s on Washington, but I love getting to watch him as a baseball fan. So at the 1/3 point of the season, he’s definitely the NL MVP
Josh Donaldson- Toronto Blue Jays
Will Donaldson win MVP at the end of the year? Probably not, but the Toronto third baseman has been raking so far this season. Donaldson is leading the American League in RBI (39), is second in HR’s (15), and is hitting to a solid .312 avg. He’s 3rd in AL in SLG (.604) 4th in AL in OPS (.976). His 3.2 WAR has him sitting at 4th in the major league’s in the wins above replacement catagory. Donaldson’s numbers have gone largely unnoticed to this point however. This could be a combination of playing for a Toronto team that is six games under .500, and that there isn’t much name recognition around Josh Donaldson. He’s likely going to be the starting third baseman for the American League in this years All-Star game, so if you don’t know Josh, it might be time to read up, because the dude can hit.
NL Cy Young
Max Scherzer- Washington Nationals
The wins weren’t there at the beginning of the year, but wins really aren’t that meaningful when it comes to looking at how good a pitcher is. I mean, right now Bartolo Colon is leading the majors with 8 wins and his name isn’t even close to the top of the list. But, Scherzer has been dominant this year. He’s 2nd in NL in IP (71.2), 2nd in NL in SO (85), 3rd in NL in ERA (1.51) and 2nd in NL in WHIP (0.88). Then you start looking at the advanced stats and it’s even more impressive. He’s 5th in the NL in K/9in with 10.67, and he leads the league in DIPS (Defense-independent ERA), with a 1.96 ERA. Sure, this guys eye color’s are a mess, but he’s anything but on the mound
AL Cy Young
Dallas Keuchel- Houston Astros
Calling this a breakout season doesn’t even begin to describe what Keuchel is having. Keuchel owns a 3.79 career ERA, his ERA this year is 1.76. Keuchel is building off of last year when he finished strong and ended with a 2.93 ERA. The 27 year old left hander is tied for 2nd in AL in W (7)1st in AL in IP (81.2)1st in AL in ERA (1.76) 2nd in AL in WHIP (0.91)2nd in AL in W% (.875), hitters are only batting .183 off of him and has thrown two complete games, which is 1st in the league. Dallas Keuchel has put on one hell of a show these last two months and is anchoring this rotation of young arms that has brought them to where they are at. If Keuchel can keep this up, he may hang around in this race for the next few months. Until it’s inevitably given to King Felix because that dude is just too good.