Monday, May 16, 2011

AL Update

The ever so long MLB season continues, and as we approach June, some teams are standing out as potential contenders to win their respective division. With no surprises in the AL East, the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox are still in a strong position to make a move at the top. Over in the AL central a little more separation between top and bottom has occurred, while the fist fight out west still seems open to anyone. Lets break it down and take a look.

AL East

Always the most competitive division in baseball, which looks to stand true this season as well with the Rays, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and the O's all within 4.5 games of first place. Only the last place O's are below the .500 mark with a record of 19-20. Their extremely young pitching staff has done surprisingly well so start this season. After a 6-0 start, the numbers are starting to drop, but they are leveling off nicely moving into the heart of the season. Arrieta and Tillman are rising young stars and this Baltimore team that has been struggling for so long may soon be a contender once again.

The Red Sox are coming off a huge three game sweep of the Yankees in New York, and look to continue their hot streak with a 6 game home stand starting with the O's tonight. After a miserable 2-10 start, the Red Sox have finally reached the .500 mark for the first time this season. Their rivals in the Bronx will take on the first place Rays for a three game series that could add some separation. With the Rays pitching well, and new CF Johnny Damon overachieving, this should be a very entertaining series. Expect the Yankees to bounce back from getting swept, and win the series.

AL Central

After just a month and a half of baseball, this division has the largest record differential. The Cleveland Indians are boasting the best record in baseball, while the lowly Twins are sporting the worst. The Indians have been on an absolute tear this season, getting contributions throughout their line-up and pitching staff. Asdrubel Cabrera has been having a great season, possibly the best of his career. He has already surpassed his HR total from last year and looks to continue his hot streak. He leads the team with 25 RBI and is batting .288. Him along with the resurgent Travis Hafner, batting .344 in 106 AB are doing a great job lifting this team to the higher echelon of the MLB teams. Their pitching has been very strong as well. New member and former Red Sox, Justin Masterson has 5 wins this season, and has an ERA of 2.73 in 8 starts if the young pitcher can keep it up, he could be one of the best pitchers in the league this year.

Detroit is also a contender for the division title. They have won 9 of their last 10, and SP Justin Verlander is on fire! After pitching his no-n0, he became the first pitcher since Nolan Ryan to follow up the performance with another 8 inning 1 run gem. Miguel Cabrera is carrying this team offensively, and with a solid pitching staff hurling behind this potent line-up, I would not be surprised to see a 163rd game of the season.

AL West

Always the most intriguing league in the American League, because there is never a clear front runner for the division title, at least, not in the early going. Currently the Angles and the Rangers are battling for top dog in the West, which was expected; however, the A's and Mariners are still looking to stay competitive. Oakland's SP Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill are off to a phenomenal start. Cahill has 6 wins this season and has an ERA of 1.82, the lowest among SP (minimum 7 starts). Cahill has given up 1 run or fewer in 6 of his 9 starts, and has only one game where he gave up more then 2. Brian Fuentes reclaimed his role as the closer, and has 9 saves so far. Offensively their bats have been lighting up the field (as far as contact). Daric Barton, David Dejesus, Josh Willingham, Curtis Jackson, Kurt Suzuki, and Chris Pennington are all batting above .300 making this line-up extremely hard to get out. Re-emerging ex Yankee, Hideki Matsui is also stringing together a solid year thus far hitting .293 with 15 RBI. If this team can get a consistent power hitting, RBI producer, they could easily over take the Angels and Ranger and claim the AL West title.

Look for the NL Update tomorrow!

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