With most major league teams at or near the halfway mark this is a good time to assess the 2013 season so far. Red Sox have already played 84 games, so are already 3 games past the halfway mark, while Twins have played only 78 games.
Looking At Standings
AL East – The Yankees played their 81st game yesterday and slid down into fourth place behind the Rays who moved to third place. Yankees ended their first half by losing five in a row and are 3-7 in their last 10 games. Red Sox won their 50th game yesterday, but hold only a 2.5 game lead over the Orioles. Chris Davis hit his 31st home run of the major league leading 115 hit by the Orioles. Blue Jays won ten in a row earlier in June, but then reverted to their losing ways losing 5 of their last 7 in games against the Rays and Red Sox.
AL Central – Indians at 7-3 are only AL Central team with a winning record in their last 10, while first place Tigers are 4-6 in that span and seem to be sliding. Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander are a combined 20-5 in 2013, while the rest of the starters are 17-17. Prince Fielder only has 13 home runs, which is 18 less than the AL leading Chris Davis with 31. Tigers are one percentage point ahead of the Indians, with the Royals 4.5 games behind the Indians. The Twins are still in striking distance at 6.5 games out of first place. The White Sox are just killing time now till the end of the season and should be sellers before the trading deadline arrives in late July. White Sox have to win 15 in a row, just to get back to playing .500 baseball, so almost no chance of them recovering from a terrible start.
AL West – Rangers are holding a half game lead over the Athletics. Angels have moved to within 9 games of the first place Rangers, but still are 8.5 behind the second place Athletics. Mariners and Astros are doomed to finishing fourth and fifth this season, since the Angels are pulling away from them, since they are currently in a 6 game winning streak. This is a three team race, if the Angels stay hot for a while.
NL East – Braves have the largest lead in majors at 6.5 games over the Nationals, but the Braves have to have concerns about the offense being hot and cold this season. The 11 shutouts pitched against them is a major concern. Nationals are hoping the return of Bryce Harper can get the Nationals going again. Phillies still have a remote chance of getting back in the race and perhaps winning a wild card bid, with them trailing the Braves by 9.5 games. The Mets and Marlins should be sellers when the trading starts, since they don’t seem to be factors in the NL East race.
NL Central – It was thought that the Cardinals and Reds would be battling for the NL Central title. But both teams find themselves behind the surprising Pirates, who have won 51 games and could be in the race to the end. Cardinals are 2 games behind the Pirates, while the Reds are surprisingly 5.5 games behind the Pirates. The season is more or less over for the Cubs and Brewers who are so far behind, they almost certainly will be sellers this month.
NL West – Only 4 games separate the first place Diamondbacks and the last place Dodgers, so this division is up for grabs right now at least. The Rockies despite the loss of Troy Tulowitzki are only 2 games out of first place. Padres are only 2.5 games out while the Giants who are 2-8 in their last 10 games are 3 games behind the Diamondbacks. This race is too close to even call, since all five teams have a chance of winning the NL West title. Dodgers seem to be playing better, since Hanley Ramirez returned from the DL.
Surprises This Season – The biggest surprise of the season has been the hitting of rookie Yasiel Puig who posted 44 hits in June, despite not joining the Dodgers till the third game of the month. It would be great for baseball, if he makes the All Star team, but it may cause some hurt feelings, by players who might miss out on the All Star game because of Puig….Chris Davis has hit an amazing 31 home runs and has driven in 80 runs, while hitting .332. Davis only hit 33 home runs and drove in 85 runs in 2012, so he is close to matching those numbers and probably will by the All Star break….There was no doubt that Manny Machado was a good player, but he has taken his game to a new level in 2013. Machado leads the majors with 38 doubles, 2nd in hits in MLB with 115….Jean Segura of the Brewers has shown why the Brewers insisted that Segura be included in the Zack Greinke trade. Segura is 3rd in MLB in hits with 105 and 5th in batting average in MLB with a .327 batting average….Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks has rebounded from his 6-8 record in 2012 to posting a 9-0 record in 2013. Matt Harvey is 7-1 and his 152 strikeouts lead all NL pitchers. His 2.00 ERA also tops the NL and is 2nd best in MLB. His 0.85 WHIP leads the majors.
Cole Hamels has been a surprise in a negative way with his 2-11 record in 2013. If he had won only 3 of those games the Phillies would be in the thick of the NL East race….It was a surprise that R.A. Dickey the 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner allowed 6 or more runs five times in the 2013 season. His record was 4-7 on May 30, but he has won four of his last five decisions for a 8-8 record currently. His 18 home runs allowed in 2013 is second worst among all MLB pitchers. Dickey was 12-1 on this date last year.
Around the Bases….Michael Cuddyer who is currently on a 27 game hit streak has moved to within one point of NL leading Yadier Molina with Molina hitting .345 to the .344 of Cuddyer….Adam Dunn continues to be an enigma with him being 4th in home runs in AL with 21, but hitting an anemic .198. This makes it difficult for Jim Leyland to name him to the AL All Star team, since the purpose of the game is to win home field advantage for the AL and Dunn is as likely to strike out as to hit a home run in the midsummer classic. He is not really earning his $15 million salary this season, since he is a one dimensional player….Yankees are playing now like they were expected to play till their stars started returning. Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira have played a combined 23 games so far this season. Vernon Wells was productive earlier in the season, but has regressed badly lately. He hit .300 in April, .221 in May and .133 in June. He also walked only once in June while striking out 17 times. Travis Hafner also started well hitting .318 in April then tumbled to .179 in May and .174 in June. Lyle Overbay has not hit well for average all season hitting .241 in April, .253 in May and .219 in June, but was a run producer earlier in the season. He drove in 12 runs in April, 17 in May and then down to 5 in June.
Only the White Sox, Astros and Mariners have scored fewer runs than the Yankees in 2013. They are next to last in batting in the AL with a .239 average and only two points ahead of the last place Astros and Seattle tied at .237….Marlins with 47 home runs in 2013 are 68 home runs behind the Orioles with 115….Pirates have the lowest ERA in MLB with a 3.11 mark. Astros have the worst ERA at 4.69….Pirates have thrown the most shutouts with 12, while the Astros and Cubs have a major league worst total of one….Cardinals lead in complete games with 6, while 9 teams have yet to throw a complete game….Tigers are missing Anibal Sanchez, since his replacement Jose Alvarez lost today to the Blue Jays by a 8-3 score and his ERA jumped from 3.78 to 5.03 today. Prince Fielder hit his 14th home run today in the loss. However, Omar Infante hit a home run 73 feet further than the Fielder home run. The loss dropped the Tigers a half game behind the first place Indians in the AL Central. Blue Jays moved to within 1.5 games of the 4th place Yankees in the AL East. We can expect some wheeling and dealing from Yankees if they fall into last place.