Thursday, June 9, 2011

Re-Evaluating the MLB Season

Greetings all... MLB teams have played 60-ish games a piece thus far, and we haven't gone back to evaluate where we've been and where we're going... let's do that in this space, division-by-division so that we can see how unintelligent I am...

AL West
Preseason pick: 1) Texas, 2) Oakland, 3) LAA, 4) Seattle
  • Gun to my head? I still like the Rangers... at 35-28, they have a 2.5 game lead on surprising Seattle, and 5.5 on the Angels... Oakland is 8 back, and just lost their rising star pitcher Brett Anderson (possibly for the season with an elbow issue)... I think it's fairly safe to write off the A's, so let's talk about the other 3.... Texas is now healthy with the returns of Hamilton and Cruz, and they have the best offense in the division by leaps and bounds... we know that... but the key for them is that pitching staff, and they've gotten the pleasant surprise of Alexi Ogando starting 7-0 in his first 12 starts... That won't continue, but he's definitely above-average, and when teamed with Wilson/Lewis and the suddenly good Matt Harrison, I like them... Also, Mitch Moreland (.890 OPS) is breaking out.... the Angels were carried by Haren and Weaver early, and while they (especially Weaver) have cooled off, LAA has managed to stay competitive even with Vernon Wells being injured (and sucking out loud) and with Morales not coming back at any point in 2011... I'm not sure guys like Aybar, Izturis, and Trumbo can continue at their current paces, but I think they'll get better production from Hunter and Wells... Seattle? Wow... what do you say about Michael Pineda? He's the catalyst for their turnaround as they suddenly have an elite 1-2 combination, and he's been ridiculous... Erik Bedard also deserves a lot of credit for their start, but consider this... this team STILL doesn't hit... Ichiro is only hitting .256, they only have 1 legitimate power source (Smoak with 10 homers), Chone Figgins is a DISASTER (.187 avg, .247 slugging), and they have a revolving door in the outfield... I don't think they can finish at .500, but there's hope in Seattle with that pitching staff...
Revised pick: 1) Texas, 2) Anaheim, 3) Seattle, 4) Oakland

AL Central
Preseason pick: 1) Minnesota (yikes), 2) Chicago, 3) Detroit, 4) Cleveland, 5) KC
  • Well, this was my most disastrous selection... I always, ALWAYS crap on Minnesota preseason and they always prove me wrong... well, it went the other way this year... the Twins have been a disaster from the jump... from injuries (Mauer most notably, Morneau, Nathan, Young) to lackluster performance (Pavano, D. Young, etc.), they haven't gotten it together at all, and at 11.5 out, I don't think they will... Cleveland has been the lone bright spot in the division, but I just don't see the pitching (i.e. Tomlin and Masterson's underlying numbers show a very likely regression), and guys like Asdrubal Cabrera can't sustain MVP-type numbers for 4 more months... will they fall off a cliff? I say no, but they won't finish .500... Detroit is tough to read because they have a very good offense, but after Verlander, the pitching is sketchy (Scherzer has been bad at times), their middle relief is awful (read: Joaquin Benoit), and I think Magglio Ordonez may be done... the White Sox have my favorite offense in the division, so it basically begs the question of whether Rios, Dunn, and to a lesser extent John Danks, can get it together... I say they can and will... KC will become infinitely more entertaining as the season goes along because of their vast array of prospects (Hosmer is already impressing), but they'll be so young that they won't hang in... I think the winner of the division finishes with like 84 wins... give me CWS...
Revised pick: 1) Chicago, 2) Detroit, 3) Cleveland, 4) KC, 5) Minnesota

AL East
Preseason pick: 1) Boston, 2) Tampa, 3) NYY, 4) Toronto, 5) Baltimore
  • Best division in baseball... I know everyone gets sick of the AL East (myself included) but you can't deny the depth of talent... I still believe that Boston has the best roster in the Majors, and I'm sticking with them... the Tampa vs. Yankees debate rages on, and I was (and continue to be) on the Tampa side of things simply because I can't buy into a Yankees team with exactly ONE starting pitcher that I trust... Phil Hughes was a disaster, AJ Burnett is AJ Burnett, Bartolo Colon has been electric but all signs point to a slowing down (or even a shutting down), and the Garcia/Nova combo doesn't inspire anyone... I still like Tampa's core of pitching with Price, Shields, and Hellickson better, and give me the pitching in the end... Toronto and Baltimore might both win the AL Central, but there's too much in front of them here... Baltimore is very exciting to watch with the Matusz/Britton/Arrieta trio in the rotation though...
Revised pick: 1) Boston, 2) Tampa, 3) NYY, 4) Toronto, 5) Baltimore

NL West
Preseason pick: 1) Colorado, 2) SF, 3) LA Dodgers, 4) San Diego, 5) Arizona
  • I was starting to turn toward the Giants.. I really was... until their best offensive player was lost for the season and replaced by? Eli Whiteside!... Yeah... so while I know San Fran has it going in the standings, in the long haul, I just don't see where the runs come from, so I'm rolling with Colorado... they've gotten underwhelming production from CarGo and Ubaldo so far and are still competitive... I believe in the Rockies... Arizona is the most fascinating team out West... currently 2 back of SF for the division lead it doesn't seem TOO fluke-ish... Collmenter can't continue at this pace (and certainly won't once he's been seen by the league), and the pitching will regress... I think the D-Backs offense is legit, and they won't fall into the toilet, but not a serious division contender... the Dodgers are a disaster from the top down with the ownership situation... I see them selling at the deadline, and the injury bug seems to hit them as well... but most of all? that bullpen is a mess... and San Diego got some positive reinforcement with the call-up of Anthony Rizzo, but their pitching isn't as good as it was in 2010 and their offense is far worse... they'll stay where they are...
Revised pick: 1) Colorado, 2) SF, 3) Arizona, 4) LAD, 5) San Diego

NL Central
Preseason pick: 1) Milwaukee, 2) Cincy, 3) Chicago, 4) St. Louis, 5) Houston, 6) Pittsburgh
  • The league's only 6-team division is, predictably, wide-open... St. Louis is scorching right now at 37-26, but they're doing it without Wainwright, with Pujols having started slowly, and with Holliday on the DL? How?!... It's always a team that plays above their head, but I don't think they sustain this... Milwaukee is 1.5 games out and has the best pitching in the division with Greinke/Marcum/Gallardo... I'm banking on them to pull it out... Cincy has been a bit underwhelming so far (5.5 out at 32-31) but with Cueto back healthy and Volquez pitching better in the last few starts, I see that staff returning to division-winning form, and they'll compete to the end, that offense is too good led by Votto, Stubbs and Phillips... I liked the Cubs coming into the year... I was wrong... too much dysfunction... Marmol has taken a step back, they don't have the offense (although Soriano is quietly coming alive), and the starting pitching just isn't very good... Pittsburgh has been a pleasant surprise, playing .500 ball into June, and I don't think it's a fluke... their pitching is much better with Morton (who's legit), Maholm and McDonald, and that lineup is better than you'd think even without Alvarez doing anything... Houston is a disaster... yeah...
Revised pick: 1) Milwaukee, 2) Cincy, 3) St. Louis, 4) Pittsburgh, 5) Chicago, 6) Houston

NL East
Preseason pick: 1) Philly, 2) Atlanta, 3) Florida, 4) NYM, 5) Washington
  • Philly is the class of the NL... but it isn't by the margin you might think... Oswalt has taken a step back this year (across the board, from peripherals down), the offense isn't terribly impressive with a regressed/injured Utley, Rollins and Ibanez in the twilight, and a banged-up Ruiz, but the Halladay/Lee/Hamels trio is just too much, and Ryan Madson has been a God-send for them... Atlanta can't seem to score runs (well-documented in this space), but I firmly believe that Heyward will get right and produce, Uggla will finish the year hitting .220-ish (meaning he'll hit .260-ish the rest of the way), and the offense will be at least mediocre... but here's a secret... the Atlanta starting pitching has been just as good as the Philly starting pitching... now, don't get me wrong... 1 through 3, I firmly believe Philly has the clear edge, but depth-wise, Atlanta makes up some ground... Jurrjens isn't THIS good, but it's clear that he's an upper-echelon guy when he's throwing strikes like he is right now, Hanson is a superstar, and they're doing this with Hudson having regressed from 2010... Atlanta is still my wild-card pick... Florida is the 3rd team by default, sitting 5 back of Philly at the moment, and with simply more talent than Washington and New York... I'm going to flip-flop the bottom 2 for this one because I think the Mets are selling at the deadline... Beltran or Reyes (maybe both) will be gone, Washington will get Zimmerman back, and at that point? advantage Nats... not that it matters...
Revised pick: 1) Philly, 2) Atlanta, 3) Florida, 4) Washington, 5) NYM

So there it is... just wanted to take a step back and look at things fresh now that we're past that magical Memorial day point in the season... for what it's worth...

1 comment:

tdomeski said...

Nice write-up.

I really think every division is wide-open at this point with 3 different teams that could legitimately win every division aside from the NL East (it's going to be Philly or ATL).

I think the best race down the stretch will be the STL, MIL, ATL race with 3 teams fighting for 2 playoff spots (like the ATL, SF, SD race last year). I also think the AL Central will play down to the last week.

I'm more down on the Rockies than you and actually think SF's SP will get them through especially if Sabean makes a move for a bat at the deadline.

Quick trivia: The Rockies starting 2B the past few nights was the only SP to beat the 2002 Parkview Panthers...and he did it as a sophomore. Yikes.