By Mike Ivcic
With the All-Star break upon us, itâs time for The Tenth Inning to hand out a midseason report card on all 30 MLB teams. Weâll split it into two parts to hold you through the absences of meaningful baseball. NL fans, wait your turn â today is the American League.
New York Yankees
Even without Mariano Rivera, this is the best team in baseball. How does this happen every year?
Sure, the Pirates are a nice story, but the biggest shocker of the year is that the Orioles would be playoff team at the All-Star break. Tremendous job by the front office and manager Buck Showalter.
Tampa Bay Rays
The pitching hasn’t been as good as expected, but they’re still within a game of a playoff spot without Evan Longoria. I wouldn’t want this team on my heels in September.
Boston Red Sox
A rough April and losing 3 of 4 to the Yanks bookended a somewhat respectable May and June. Still, fourth place isn’t what management wanted from the second highest payroll in baseball.
Toronto Blue Jays
It’s tough to be .500 and tied for last place, but Toronto’s become accustomed to this as life in the AL East. But it’s amazing how different .500 can feel just by crossing the border.
Chicago White Sox
A lot of credit for the Sox success has to go to a revitalized Adam Dunn. Pitching is still a question mark, but trading for Kevin Youkilis was a great move.
Platooning Shelley Duncan and Johnny Damon in leftfield isn’t a recipe for success, but yet the Indians are within striking distance of both the division and the wild card. Perhaps fans should listen to Chris Perez and come to the park. They’d see a good team.
Teams that have Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, and Prince Fielder aren’t supposed to spend a month and a half under .500. It’s really as simple as that.
Kansas City Royals
The young players keep coming up, and combined with the All-Star game there’s actually a little juice around this franchise. Hopefully that translates into some long-term deals and a playoff appearance.
Nothing has gone right for this group over the last two years, which is a rough time to be selling a brand new ballpark. Mauer and Morneau have to stay healthy with such little depth behind them. John Willingham’s signing keeps the Twins from a failing mark.
Already one of the top two teams in the league, it’s amazing to think that Texas wants to trade for more. That’s what happens when you get so close two straight years.
Los Angeles Angels
Singing Albert Pujols wasn’t the biggest move. Bringing Mike Trout up from the minors was. And for that, the Angels get high marks.
Trading Andrew Bailey and Trevor Cahill was a sign of rebuilding, but adding Yoenis Cespedis to the mix made this team capable of reaching the .500 mark this season and putting some heat on the Angels and Rangers.
They’re young and feisty, but they won’t be competitive until Ichiro and Felix Hernandez are long gone, so more than anything the Mariners are in a holding pattern until they come to terms with that same conclusion.
Tomorrow: The National League
Playoff “Dead” List
July 9 â Oakland Athletics
I wanted to finish off the Royals, but given that they’re hosting the All-Star Game I’ll let them have one more week alive. Instead, this week’s ceremonial drubbing belongs to Oakland, who has the unfortunate luck of residing in the same division as the Rangers and Angels. Yes, the AL East will beat up on each other, but ultimately I believe a team from that division will grab at least one of the two wild card spots, and the A’s just aren’t good enough to catch Texas or Los Angeles in their own division. Thus, despite a lot of positive signs this season, it will be one without a game 163 in Oakland.
July 2 â Colorado Rockies
June 25 â Seattle Mariners
June 18 â Houston Astros
June 11 â Minnesota Twins
June 4 â Chicago Cubs
May 28 â San Diego Padres
Three series (or things) to watch this weekâ¦
1) Home Run Derby
2) All-Star Game
3) Potential Trades
If the season ended today, the playoff teams would beâ¦
1. Washington Nationals
2. Pittsburgh Pirates
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Atlanta Braves
1. New York Yankees
2. Texas Rangers
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Los Angeles Angels
5. Baltimore Orioles
Check out my weekly column, “The Tenth Inning,” every Monday and the weekly “Power Rankings” every Friday, only at ultimatecapper.com
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