We’re in the All-Star break, which is the unofficial halfway point of the MLB season so now’s a good time to check in with my preseason picks to see how I’m doing. My National League picks are looking pretty good. My American League picks? Not so much. Let’s dig into the details.
My division winners were the Orioles in the East, Indians in the Central and Mariners in the West; they’re currently in third, fourth and fourth place, respectively. The current division leaders are the surprising Yankees, the defending AL champion Royals and the Angels. My Wild Card picks before the season started were the Blue Jays and Royals. The Blue Jays currently sit in fourth place in the East and four games out of a Wild Card while the Royals, again, are atop the Central. The two teams currently leading the Wild Card race in the AL are two of the biggest surprises in the majors: the Twins and Astros.
Looking ahead at the second half of the season in the AL, the team currently in playoff positioning that I think is most likely to regress in the second half is the Twins. They’re basically middle of the pack in the majors in key stats in both offense and pitching. I think they’ve been lucky to have a 49-40 record at this point of the season. I expect them to fall back in the second half. I still like the Jays. They have one of the best offenses in the league, but their pitching isn’t good enough. If they can trade for a starting pitcher before the deadline, I still think they have a chance to get a Wild Card spot, if not pass the Yankees in the division.
I’m doing much better with my National League predictions than I am in the AL. I took the Nationals, Cardinals and Dodgers to win their divisions — and that’s exactly what they’re doing at the midway point. I took the Pirates and Marlins to earn the two Wild Card spots in the NL. I’m half right there at this point, as the Pirates and Cubs — another team that’s surprising people this season — sit atop the NL Wild Card standings. The Marlins, meanwhile, have the third-worst record in the NL.
How are things looking for the second half? The defending World Series champion Giants are only two games back for the second Wild Card, and I think they have a good shot at ending up with one of the two Wild Cards at season’s end. They’ve had some injuries in the first half, notably with OF Hunter Pence, who has recently returned to the lineup, and if they can stay healthy the rest of the way, I think they have what it takes to improve enough to make the playoffs and try for a second consecutive World Series title.
So what about my playoff predictions? I had the Dodgers beating the Orioles in the Fall Classic. Now, I’m not confident about either of those picks. The Cardinals look like they’re — by far — the best team in the majors and I’m not thinking they’ll represent the NL in the World Series, and the Royals look like they’re for real so they could go back to the World Series again this year. If that all-Missouri series happens, I think the Cardinals would come out victorious and win another World Series title.