LA Dodgers Dominate First Quarter of Baseball Season

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LA Dodgers Dominate First Quarter of Baseball Season
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

We are officially one quarter through the Major League Baseball season.  It's always fun to look back at this point to the major headlines, and to use the information we have now to predict the remainder of the year.  As far as the news goes, the Dodgers have ruled the headlines.  They have done the same thing in the standings as well.

While the preseason story of Alex Rodriguez, along with a new stadium in New York may have given the Yankees tons of early press coverage, the Dodgers topped them with a hot start and an even bigger Manny story. 

They set a record for best home winning streak to start a season, lost Manny for 50 games, and have continued to win.  With Tuesday night's win over the Mets, the Dodgers are 15 games over .500 and have a 7 1/2 game lead over the Giants

The Dodgers are the one division leader that looks like a lock to make the postseason.  They have dominated the West and have a deep team that would have to collapse to miss out.

Juan Pierre and Casey Blake, who hit a three run homer to lead the team over the Mets on Tuesday, have picked up the slack for Manny, and should help keep the Dodgers on top until he comes back. 

Philadelphia is the other division leader that I would bet money on making the playoffs.  Utley, Rollins, and Howard will get their team past the Mets yet again.  This year probably by a wider margin than last.  T

he Central is led by the Brewers at this point, and while they have a legitimate chance of holding on, they also have three contenders chasing them.  The Cards, Cubs, and Reds are all within 4.5 games and have the talent to make a run.  This division will go down to the final week before a winner is crowned.

Over in the American league all three leaders are surprising.  Detroit has the slimmest of leads over the suddenly respectable Royals.  The Blue Jays are leading a deep AL East over Boston

The most shocking thus far has been the Texas Rangers in the West.  Ian Kinsler has turned into an All-Star while leading the team in most offensive categories.  As the summer heats up look for the standings to change dramatically.  By the All-Star break, I'd be stunned if any of the current leaders are still in top.

Players to Watch

Roy Halladay:  While Zack Greinke has been getting the press, and most of it deservedly so, Halladay has been going about his business collecting wins.  He is 8-1 and a huge reason why the Blue Jays lead the East.  I love what Greinke is doing, especially his sub-1 ERA, but I suspect Halladay will end up with the more sucessful season and a All-Star game start.

Chad Billingsley: As of Tuesday night his six wins lead the NL and he looks like the Dodgers ace, having helped to replace Derek Lowe and Brad Penny.  He is second in strikeouts and the Dodgers have great confidence when he is on the hill. 

Yohan Santana:  He continues to be one of the best pitchers in the game.  He leads the NL with a 1.36 ERA and will likely win another pitching triple crown.  He will be the NL Starter in this year's ASG.

K-Rod:  After smashing the single season saves record (one of the most insignificant records in sports), he has so far followed it up very well with the Mets.  The Angels felt like they did the right thing, letting him go to the Mets for a huge price tag, but in a tight division he could possibly be the difference maker. 

Brian Fuentes may have ten saves but he's already blown two and sports an ERA of 4.61.  Rodriguez has an ERA under one, and has given up only 11 hits through nearly 20 innings.

Victor Martinez:  He's batting .400 for the Cleveland Indians.  While he may not keep this up, he may be able to join Joe Mauer as catchers to win batting titles

Adrian Gonzales:  The Padres lone bright spot.  He leads the league with 15 homers despite the fact that he plays at Petco.  It may not happen this year, but down the road he's going to win an MVP.

Predictions

The Dodgers will win 100 games.  They play in a weak division against which they are 20-8 so far.  When the get Kuroda back their pitching will be stronger and when they get Manny back, assuming he plays hard, their offense will be the best in the league.

The Nationals will lose 120.  Washington is the worst team that I have ever witnessed.  They have committed 41 errors, 8 more than the Mariners.  Given up 247 runs through 38 games.  For those of you not good at math, that's just over six runs per game. 

Evan Longoria will win the Triple Crown.  At the quarter mark he is hitting .333, has 46 RBI, and 11 homers.  He is nearly on pace to match Hack Wilson's RBI mark.  Unless AL pitchers suddenly figure this guy out, he'll continue to tear it up and be the first since Carl Yastrzemski in '67 to achieve this feat.

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