So were at the All-Star break in baseball. You what that means? It’s time for some classic division races through the dog days of summer. It’s been the year of the underdog in baseball, with the Nationals, Dodgers, and Pirates atop their division, and the Phillies and Red Sox in last place. Here’s a look at all the current division leaders, and predictions on whether they will hold on to win, and if not, who will take the division crown instead.
AL East – Current 1st place: Yankees, 7 ½ game lead on Orioles
As long as the Yankees don’t choke like in the 2004 ALCS, they should wrap up this division with ease.
AL West – Current 1st place: Rangers, 4 game lead on Angels
The streaking Angels are coming on strong and look like the second best team in baseball. Too bad the best team in baseball, the Texas Rangers, play in their division. The Rangers have it all: Pitching, hitting, defense, and experience.
AL Central – Current 1st place: White Sox, 3 game lead on Indians, 3 ½ game lead on Detroit
Weren’t the Tigers a sure fire pick to win the AL Central? Easy money in Vegas, right? In preseason, all 45 ESPN Baseball Analysts picked the Tigers to win the division. Well so much for that. The Tigers though still have two great hitters, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, in the middle of the lineup, and arguably the best pitcher in baseball in Justin Verlander. Eventually this talented Tigers team will figure it out, and should win a tight division race.
NL Central – Current 1st place: Pirates, 1 game lead on Reds
How about another consensus? Before the season, not one ESPN Baseball Analyst out of 45 picked the Pittsburg Pirates to win the division, let alone win one of the two wild cards. Now that’s a surprise party! Heck, I wasn’t even born the last time the Pirates had a winning record, in 1992. The Pirates are 4th in the National league in pitching, one spot behind the Reds. Both are in the botton half of the NL in hitting. This dead-even race should come down to the final week of September. It’s a toss up, but I’m going with the ‘Cinderella’ Pirates.
NL East – Current 1st place: Nationals, 4 game lead on Atlanta, 4 ½ game lead on Mets
The 2012 Nationals first place run is the latest surprise in a baseball season full of them. They’ve done it with a major-league best, team 3.20 ERA. Hitting can come and go, but pitching is usually a constant. Nationals will win the division.
NL West – Current 1st place: Dodgers, ½ game lead on Giants
In preseason, only 5 out of 45 ESPN Baseball Analysts picked them to make the playoffs, and that includes the division crown and either of the two wild card spots. And those predictions were based on a healthy Matt Kemp, who has been anything but that. What the Dodgers have done so far has been a fairly tale run. They’ve played far above their heads and everyone’s expectations. But even Matt Kemp’s return won’t save the anemic Dodgers offense. Unless the Dodgers add another bat via trade, the Giants should edge them out for the division crown, and if Tim Lincecum ever figures out his issues, they should run away with it.