With well over 1,200 games in the books and the All-Star break rapidly approaching, Major League Baseball's divisional races are really beginning to take shape.
Here's a division summary for the first half of the season, and a look at the teams that have the best chance of clinching a postseason berth.
|Photo by: Rob Carr|
To be honest, this division shouldn't be close. The Tigers are far and away the most talented club in the bunch, with the best position player on the planet in Miguel Cabrera. The Indians are in the top 5 in runs, balancing out the fact they're 27th in ERA. Even the young Kansas City Royals remain in the race with solid pitching and defense. Still, with Detroit's lineup depth and starting pitching, they should be able to take over this race in the second half of the season.
Despite a recent surge by the underachieving Angels, this is a two-team race between the Rangers and A's. After a slow start, Oakland has turned it on of late, mostly with their offense, which ranks 6th in the majors in runs. Texas has the bigger names throughout their lineup, and have held up very well. Yu Darvish and Derek Holland have led the top of the pitching rotation, combining for 15 wins. Similar to last year, this division could come down to the last few days of the season, with neither team having an obvious edge.
Currently, there is no real race to speak of, as the Braves have pretty much controlled this division from day one with brilliant pitching. Atlanta is 2nd in the majors in ERA and quality starts. They have depth throughout their staff and have a shut down closer in Craig Kimbrel. Also, even though the Braves are only hitting .245 as a team, they have blasted 103 homers, which is 3rd-best in all of baseball. Unless the Nationals have a big time run in them, the second half looks to be more of the same; Atlanta dominating.
|Photo by: David Hague|
A mediocre group indeed, with the entire division separated by only 4 games. The Diamondbacks have led the way over the past few weeks, but they haven't been able to distance themselves from the pack. Offensively, the Rockies are the class of the division, currently 6th in the majors in total runs scored. The D-Backs, Giants and Padres have been average at best with the stick, while the Dodgers are next to last in runs, even with the recent emergence of Yasiel Puig. Pitching will be key in the second half, as none of these teams are currently in the top 10 in ERA. The starting rotation has failed San Francisco in the first half, but their championship pedigree will make them dangerous over the final months of the season.