MLB’s Best of the Worst | With 50 Left: A Few Still in This
by Brad Mullins Scores & Statson
The MLB season is in the home stretch and where does it go from here? Is it status quo and the division leaders stay the course or do sleepers exist? Are there teams that are lucky to be leading their division and if so who are they? Who really has a shot at making the big charge and fighting their way to the top? Who has the pitching, who has the hitting? This year has been a good one so far, and there are 50 games left. There are a few squads in the running that are making a very strong push such as Oakland, Arizona, Colorado, Atlanta and others. Let’s examine who might be the sleeper, who just might jump up and surprise their division.
National League East: This race is fantastic, and it never grows cold. The Phillies, Braves, and Nationals all have a shot at winning this division. Six games separate the three and Washington is the lone man out. This Washington Nationals team is a disappointment, to say the least. At best, they are not playing to their full potential and at worst, they have lost the mojo they once had.
This team has Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer! Need we go on? Really, how can a team with two of the game’s biggest superstars be so mediocre? Sometimes it happens and over the course of a few seasons with a disappointing finish; maybe the disappointments have taken their toll. There is hope in DC! Don’t count these guys out. They have big sticks and when they get it going they are a force. This is the best race in baseball and it will go to the wire. Expect a fantastic finish and maybe even a playoff for the division crown. Both Altana and Philly are here to stay, and they will back down to nobody but in the end, pitching is king. The Nationals have the goods to not only hang but finish the deal and win the NL East.
National League West: The NL West is almost as good as the NL East. This is another great race that features four teams within striking distance, the Arizona Diamondbacks have once again recaptured the west and hold a one-game lead over the Dodgers. The Rockies are just three games out of the top spot and believe it or not, the Giants are now just six games out at 56 and 56 on the season. This race has been going on all season long, it is not just heating up, it has been hot, and it will stay hot until the last game is played. The Dodgers have the wood and they like to show it off. They will be a force to contend with as the beat goes on. The Diamondbacks have a clear mental edge over the boys in blue and will need everything they can get from their hitting and pitching to stave off the defending NL Champions.
The Rockies are legitimate, and they just might be everyone’s nightmare. They were supposed to be the team to upset the division last year, but things got ugly down the stretch. The Rockies hit the ball very well and they have power. They get on base and when they are on base, they score. Look out for the Rockies, they can win this division. The Giants are improving over time and what they do; they must do quickly! Their hitting is good but not division winner good, their pitching is solid at times and awful at times; it's inconsistent. There has never in the history of baseball, been any one team that won a World Series with inconsistent pitching. The Giants will be no exception. Either their pitching suddenly becomes stellar, or they fade away. We take the latter! The race is anybody's guess, but if forced to make a choice; the Dodgers have too much hitting and enough pitching to make it happen for the second year in a row.
National League Central: The Cubs and Brewers are the contenders, and as much as we would love to say the Cardinals still have a shot; they have no shot! The Cubs have proven their worth in gold with big-hitting when it matters and enough pitching when needed. Now that Hamels is along for the ride, this gives a much-added boost. Is it enough to beat the pesky Brewers? Yes, it is and it all boils down to one thing; Joe Madden. He knows the game better than most and he puts lineups together that work. He has the player personnel and if Darvish can find his way back, then the Cubs are dangerous. The biggest surprise in all of baseball this season would be to see the Brewers win this division. Heart combined with talent will prove too much for the Brew Crew. Cubbies don’t do it easily, and the Brewers are a very formidable foe, but they hang on and win the NL Central.
American League West: The Seattle Mariners had a great first half of the season but now the wheels are coming off the bus and there are no spare tires to fix this thing. Seattle keeps screwing the pooch and they refuse to shore up their pitching problems. Until they find a solid couple of pitchers with “big gun” type of arms, they will never win anything. The Oakland A’s on the other hand, are the surprise of the division and they are winning and winning and winning! Can it continue? Absolutely it can. Will they win the division? Absolutely not! The Astros are the team to beat in the west and they are proving it night after night. They will be tough to catch and if anyone has a real shot it would be the upstart A’s but don’t count the chickens before they hatch on this one. The Astros have found what they had last year, and they are solid. The A’s can keep it fairly interesting but just not enough hitting and not enough gas on the mound to hold off the Astros onslaught. Look for Houston to return as champions of the AL West and look for them to have another deep run in the playoffs.
American League Central: The Indians have a very comfortable 9 game lead in the Central Division and they show no real signs of giving anything away. The Twins are runner-up with a 51-58 record and they are a mess and will not be a threat whatsoever! Although the Indians are playing well, and they are no doubt the team to beat in the Central; don’t count on a World Series run. The Indians are just 11 games over .500 at home and they are exactly .500 on the road. This is not enough; this team is not fooling anybody come playoff time. They are having a nice season and they will win the division but nothing further.
American League East: The Boston Red Sox are the best team in baseball and as of today, they have won three straight and it’s all come at the expense of the Yankees. The Sox enter today's game looking for the sweep and they want It badly! They want nothing more than to embarrass the Yankees and send them packing back to the Bronx. Boston could possibly have the best team they have assembled in a very long time and that is saying something. The Red Sox have been good for a while now and had some very good team with “Big Papi” and others. The Red Sox are the team to beat in all of baseball and not because of their bats, but because of their pitching. When a team puts together this kind of pitching, they win the World Series. Ask the 1998 Yankees, ask the 2017 Dodgers! The Dodgers knew they came up short in the pitching department and it has stung for a while now.
The Red Sox have the pitching and they are a relentless juggernaut. They have put themselves in a position to challenge for the best single-season record set by the Seattle Mariners in 2001—116 games. This is not the end game for the Red Sox. What is the end game, is to make it back to the World Series and with the embarrassing exit from last season playoffs; you can be sure they are ready now. The hitting is stellar, with a team average of .270 and they make things happen when on base. They have all the tools, they hit, they run, they field well, and they pitch like no other. This version of the Boston Red Sox might be the best ever and they will be fighting for another shot this year. The Yankees have no chance to win this division. This race is over!