It is traditional and almost mandatory to review the status of the major leagues during the All-Star break. Trends have formed and indications of what can be expected the rest of the season are there to read.
By mid-July most teams know whether or not they have a chance to make the playoffs. Some may remain delusional and hopeful, but most get the picture.
This is how the teams rate as of July 15, All-Star day, as they regroup, rethink, and assess for the next 10 weeks of the regular season.
Best Bets For Division Titles
American League East - Baltimore Orioles
AL Central - Detroit Tigers
AL West - Oakland A’s
National League East - Atlanta Braves
NL Central - St. Louis Cardinals
NL West - Los Angeles Dodgers
Best Prospects for Wild Card Playoff Spots
American League - Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners.
National League - Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates.
National League Central, American League West.
American League East, American League Central.
Oakland A’s, Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals.
Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies.
Biggest Injury Problems
Joey Votto - Cincinnati Reds
Mashiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia - Yankees
Josh Beckett - Dodgers
Jose Fernandez - Miami Marlins
Cliff Lee - Phillies
Michael Cuddyer - Rockies
Texas Rangers - nine players on 60-day disabled list
Best Most Valuable Player Candidates, American League
Mike Trout - Angels, Robinson Cano - Mariners, Miguel Cabrera - Tigers, Edwin Encarnacion -Blue Jays.
Best Most Valuable Player Candidates, National League
Yadier Molina - Cardinals, Clayton Kershaw - Dodgers, Andrew McCutchen - Pirates.
Best Cy Young Award Candidates, American League
Felix Hernandez - Mariners, Scott Kazmir - Oakland A’s, Garrett Richards - Angels, Max Scherzer - Tigers
Best Cy Young Award Candidates, National League
Clayton Kershaw - Dodgers, Adam Wainwright - Cardinals, Craig Kimbrel - Braves
The most competitive award might be for best relief pitcher. It seems just about everybody has a closer who is piling up the saves this season. That includes Freddie Rodriguez with Milwaukee, Fernando Rodney with the Mariners, Trevor Rosenthal with the Cardinals, and Kenley Jansen with the Dodgers, as well as Kimbrel.
The year’s biggest surprise in terms of all-around play is Houston’s Jose Altuve. The Astros’ lead-off man is batting .335 with 130 hits, the most in the majors. It’s not as if he hasn’t been a solid player for a while, but it could still be classified as a surprise that Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is hitting .346 at the All-Star break.
Others with breakthrough showings include Matt Adams of the Cardinals (.329), Lonnie Chisenhall (.328) and Michael Brantley (.322) of the Indians. Also, as if they needed more power, J.D. Martinez has hit .346 with 13 homers in 55 games for the Tigers.
April to July is in the books, but most intriguing is what happens between July and October (and then in the playoffs).
The Yankees are sinking fast. The Milwaukee Brewers will finally lose their grip on first and drop out of the playoffs.
Both the Red Sox and Tampa Bay will play better, but are digging out of holes too deep. The Kansas City Royals will finish with their best record in years, but it still won’t be good enough to get them into the post-season.
The Mets will also come on strong, but fall short of the playoffs. The Giants might hold together to snare a playoff spot.
As regular seasons go, this may be a forgettable one with few records set and no super team dominating. But then there is always October and post-season drama is usually better than anything on Broadway. A dark horse may emerge as World Series champ.