It is the All-Star break!! That means there are 71 games left to the season. Also belated Christmas gifts are in the mail, might be a surprise or a lump of coal. And yet, the biggest 11 game stretch of the season follows the All-Star break. Most generally teams can still win 60 percent of their games (42). For some that means a possible trip to the playoffs. Some a little more, some a little less. Since the normal team here make the playoffs with 90 wins or more, lets take a look at who still has a chance.
The Cubs are in first place and only need 37 wins for the magic number, but are pretty banged up at the moment. The call up of Suzuki may be a shot in the arm for the anemic offense as long as he doesn't get the bug. The Cub defense is very strong and as long as the pitching staff holds things together they will be fine, maybe.
The Pirates won't go away for sure as usual. They have a good pitching staff but the offense isn't anything to write home about.. Defense is rather questionable also, error total could be a bit misleading as they have a rather bad plus/minus ratio and the stolen bases.
The Brewers are the best hitting team in the NL but like someone said, "They may need 4 hits an inning to score a run." and that ain't easy. Pitching hasn't been very solid as their OAV is almost as bad as their hitting average is good. The defense doesn't commit errors and plus/minus plays aren't top notch but looking over the team defense could be contributing to the bad OAV.
The Reds are considered out of the running needing a 50-21 record, not impossible but... The Reds lack power at the plate and the pitching staff tends to give up a lot of gopher balls, not a good combination.
The Twins have a good hitting team while pitching is well below average and defense is a little suspect also. Their ability to stay above .500 home and away helps tremendously.
The Tigers are the surprise of the season so far. They found out how to win at home, the road is another matter to overcome. Team defense is pretty good overall but pitching needs to be a mainstay and it just isn't there, especially on the road. The Tigs actually hit better on the road but that is a park product, home is a nightmare for anyone hitting.
The Expos are still in the hunt. The offense likes the new digs, the pitching staff despises it though. The defense is still taking those bad hops off the chin a bit but isn't horrible. Home is worrisome as the record indicates.
The Blue Jays would need lots of drugs to help their woes. Maybe a few Appletinis or Jolly Ranchers would help this season as the rebuild continues.
The Mets are flying high this season, needing only 35 wins to hit the magic number and only 32 to better last years record. The season so far is emulating season 21 with a so-so to bad home record and a great road campaign. Hitting isn't great but team speed is very good. Pitching is good, boasting an under 4.00 ERA performance. Defense doesn't show to be great error wise, we defer to the bad coaching for that one, but the plus/minus ratio makes up for it.
The Phillies have a lot of ground to make up if they are to make the playoffs. Charlie Stone is finally back from the DL which may help but may not be the player he used to be. Hitting is their strong point as the pitching staff hasn't been shutting the opponents down. Defense is solid.
The Braves and Colonels were both hoping for a breakout season that just hasn't happened.
The Red Sox are in first place but look worried. They boast one of the best hitting lineups in the AL but have one of the worst pitching staffs. The offense and defense are still keeping them in contention.
The Dung Beetles are the second surprise team of the season. Pitching and hitting is strong enough to keep their heads above water and seriously contend. Defense isn't stellar but good enough to help out.
The Senators and Orioles aren't out of the picture in the East but need to start playing better ball.
The Marlins errrr Ivan Johnson and company has the team on the verge of another playoff campaign already. Near the top in all categories is the reason why.
The Astros are led by Joel Mays and the pitching staff. The offense just isn't getting the job done well except for the aforementioned, next to last in hitting seems odd for a playoff contender. The pitching staff is a beast and keeps them in games, especially close ones. The defense is moderate and can come to the rescue.
The Diablos keep getting better and are still in the race for a wild card. The hitting is not the greatest and is just like the commercial, can go from great to ugly to good in a nine inning span. Pitching keeps them wired however. Defense is good.
The Cardinals are in a rebuild and have picked up some nice future stars along the way this season.
The Heads lead the way. Boasting the best pitching staff in the AL helps. The offense is a little deceiving but hits lots of home runs to help their cause. Defense is top notch also. Can they hold off the rest in the South though is the question.
The Rays are in form and chasing the Heads. Felipe Peralta leads the way in team homer assault, but other than that they are rather melancholy. Pitching isn't bad either while the defense is one of the beast in the AL.
The Royals are in the race for a wild card as catching the other two might be a trifle difficult but not impossible. Hitting, pitching and defense are all very solid. A little luck might be needed.
The Rangers are a mystery. They have the hitting and lead the AL today. The pitching is there but just isn't performing. The defense is solid. Look out, this team could go on a 20 game winning streak at any time, we have seen it before.
Salem leads the way yet again. Winning 11 in a row to catch Florida for the number 1 seed in dramatic fashion before All-Star break. Salem has a very rounded team with the hitting, pitching and defense all being in the top tier. Who will be the number 1 seed this year is the only question.
The Giants have been rebuilding for a while and it is starting to pay off. Pitching and hitting are in sync with the home park but play better away from home, go figure. Defense is still an issue to deal with, especially running teams. How far will they go remains to be seen.
The D'Backs are a team that tends to under perform and this season is no exception. While pitching and hitting isn't outstanding in the stats department, I say they are better than it shows. They have the best defense stat wise but have trouble throwing out the thieves also.
The Padres are learning and learning fast while not afraid to ask. Rebuilds are not done overnight, ask Salem.
The Sky Sox are running away from the rest of the AL. They have everything working on all cylinders and doesn't look to be stopped.
The Angels and A's pop into the wild card race with identical records. For the most part the two are almost identical. Hitting is close to identical. A's may have a slight advantage in pitching. Defense however is night and day kinda. The Angels have the fewest errors in the AL while the A's are almost the worst. The A's have the worst plus/minus ratio I have ever seen from a playoff contender and the Angels are right there with them in that aspect.
The Hot Pockets are having a bad season. Too many youngsters without experience tends to have a negative effect in the won-loss department, looks like the average age of the team is 25.
How do I see things finishing?
1. Salem - overall I think they better than Ivan and company.
2. Florida - no stopping them.
3. New York - I think I can.
4. Chicago - like the cartoons, hanging on a limb and sawing off the tree.
5. Houston - they like this spot
6. Pittsburgh - it is a 6 way race for this slot, I just like their pitching better.
1. Colorado - big lead, doubt if anyone stops them
2. Little Rock - just because I think they can
3. Dover - move over Red Sox
4. Minnesota - I like the even team
5. Tampa Bay - they will fight to the end
6. Boston - just my gut here