MLB Power Rankings 2012: Second-Half Sleeper Teams That Will Make Noise
After the All-Star break, each MLB season shows its true colors.
Teams that dominated the first half must continue to play consistently well, otherwise a disappointing finish is in the works. And then there are the sleeper teams like the Los Angeles Angels, who from April through May have been hovering around the Wild Card standings.
Here, let's look at the Angels and some other teams that will make noise when the second half of 2012 bats up.
The Pirates never provided any glimmer of hope until the 2011 season began. And although they faded toward the end, Pittsburgh has clearly used that as a catalyst for 2012.
Currently in second place in the NL Central, Pittsburgh sits at 38-34 before Tuesday's game against Philadelphia. Only two games back of the division leading Cincinnati Reds, the Buccos have a number of favorable series to start the second half.
Beginning with Milwaukee, Pittsburgh then plays the Marlins, Cubs (two series) and Astros before making the trip to Cincinnati. With one of the best ERA's in baseball, if Pittsburgh's offense can feed off the production of Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates will contend for pennant.
New York Mets
Until the Mets win a number of consecutive World Series, they will always play second-fiddle to the Yankees.
Well, 2012 has potential as the Mets sit third in the NL East at 39-35 heading into Tuesday's game with the Cubs. Right now the Wild Card race is really wide open, and barring a late-season plunge like 2007 and 2008, the Mets will be the ones making noise down the stretch.
Ranking No. 2 in the bigs with 48 quality starts, the Mets also have an offense capable of pushing the pace. Now the beginning of the second half will test New York, however, because series against Atlanta, Washington and the Los Angeles Dodgers could put the Mets in the hole.
Fortunately the end of the season is a little lighter, with Miami (two series), Milwaukee and Philadelphia intermingled around Pittsburgh (home) and Atlanta.
Who has the best shot to make the postseason?
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim got off to a surprisingly slow start. At the end of April the Angels were sitting at 7-15, and weren't much better with a 18-25 record as May began to close.
Since then, however, L.A. has avenged the early season woes and holds a 40-33 record as it prepares for a two-game series against the Baltimore Orioles. Saved by arguably the best and most consistently dominant pitching staff (No. 4 in ERA and quality starts), the offense has gradually improved.
What's even scarier is how great the Angels will be in the second half. We know Albert Pujols will get back on track, and the current play of Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo has been nothing short of impressive.
Provided the Angels simply continue to rise, opening second-half series against the Yankees, Tigers and Rangers will tell us how much we can expect from the Halos later on.
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