Mid-Season MLB Analysis: American League

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Boston and Houston seem to be the cream of this crop.

Just a couple weeks ago fans were packing MLB parks in winter wear and drinking hot chocolate and coffee to stay warm during the chilly nights of April. But early days of spring are in the rearview mirror. We’re in the middle of summer and the MLB season.

The MLB All-Star Break is coming up next week and now is the time to look at the status and potential of MLB teams. This week we will look at the American League and who has the potential to bring home the pennant.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles have been a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde team. After posting a solid 15-8 in April, the O’s have been struggling to stay above .500. The killer has been the starting pitching. Baltimore’s staff owns an atrocious 5.03 ERA—the 2nd-worst in the Majors, behind only Cincinnati.

Aaron Judge (photo, Newsday)

Boston Red Sox: Losing David “Big Papi” Ortiz to retirement still wasn’t enough to slow down the Red Sox in the AL East race. Behind the third-best pitching staff in MLB (3.79 ERA) and the bats of Mookie Betts (15 HR, 51 RBI) and Xander Bogaerts (.314 batting average), the BoSox are primed to repeat as AL East champions.

New York Yankees: All rise! The honorable Aaron Judge is presiding. The rookie is currently leading the AL in batting average, home runs, and RBIs. If he keeps bringing the same pop in his bat in the second half, New York can make a run at its 28th World Series.

Tampa Bay Rays: With one of the younger lineups in the American League, the Rays are definitely a team to keep an eye on. Tampa Bay is currently ranked 8th in MLB in batting average and 11th in ERA. A Wild Card berth seems like a viable possibility this season.

Toronto Blue Jays: It has been a disappointing season so far for Canada’s team with the Blue Jays having spent the entire season below the .500 mark. Offense has been the Achilles ’ heel, as Toronto is the 4th-worst offensive team in the Majors, plating just 335 runners so far this season.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox: Chicago is middle of the road in both hitting and pitching, but the true culprit for the White Sox has been fielding. The team is 2nd in all of baseball in errors committed at 67, and 43 of White Sox opponents’ runs have been unearned this season.

Courtesy: NEO Sports Insiders

Cleveland Indians: Manager Terry Francona and the Indians are on top of the division. An impressive 26-16 road record is one of the main reasons. But an abysmal 18-21 at Progressive Field needs to be corrected if Cleveland wants to make the World Series again.

Detroit Tigers: Detroit’s mediocre season can be chalked up to two things: poor pitching and an inability to win away from The Motor City. Detroit’s staff currently has a horrendous 4.89 ERA and the Tigers are 15-26 on the road.

Kansas City Royals: Kansas City finished last season 81-81 and the Royals are hovering right around the .500 mark again. The Royals have benefitted greatly from the arm of aging southpaw, Jason Vargas. The 34-year-old is leading the American League with 12 victories and a 2.22 ERA.

Minnesota Twins: The fact that the Twins are within striking distance is a huge turnaround from last season when Minnesota finished 59-103. While there have been signs of improvement, I think it’s only a matter of time before the wheels fall of in Minneapolis.

AL West

The Spectacular Jose Altuve (photo, MLB.com)

Houston Astros: After finishing at the bottom of the NL Central and then the AL West nearly every year in the past decade, the Astros have dominated so far this season, owning the best record in MLB at 56-27 (as of 7/3). Like France’s rise under Napoleon, Houston’s rise to relevance can also be largely attributed to one man of very short stature: Jose Altuve. At just 5-6, the 27-year-old Venezuelan is a five-time All-Star and is the 2nd-best batter in the AL with a batting average of .326. He’s the heart and soul of the Astros, one of just eight teams to have never won a World Series. Is this the year? We’ll see.

Los Angeles Angels: Treading water at the .500 mark all year long, the Angels aren’t going to win the division. Point blank. But Los Angeles is still very much in the Wild Card Race. The Angels can still sneak into the postseason.

Oakland Athletics: It has been yet another subpar season in the Bay Area. The A’s are at the bottom of the barrel in every statistical category. Only some Moneyball magic can salvage this season.

Seattle Mariners: Potential. There is simply no other way to describe this Mariners team. Behind the talented trio of Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager, and Robinson Cano, it should be jubilation on Puget Sound, but the pitching continues to sputter at times. Only when that problem is resolved will Seattle make a major push towards playoff contention.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers have hung around the .500 mark all season long, but they just have not yet been able to make that major push. They have the bats, ranked third in the AL in runs scored, but the starting pitching and bullpen has been very inconsistent. The Rangers still have several things to figure out.

***Read next week’s article for analysis of the National League***


About Cameron Brown

Cameron Brown is sports columnist with The Journal-Enterprise, Providence, Kentucky and winner of the Kentucky Press Association “Best Sports Column of the Year” award. Cameron has a passion for basketball–like so many others in his home state of Kentucky. He played basketball for his high school in rural western Kentucky and enjoys other sports, including college football and Major League Baseball. His dream is to have a job in sports.

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