Separating the contenders from the pretenders:
Boston Red Sox 54-34 Tampa Bay Rays 92-70
New York Yankees 51-37 Boston Red Sox 86-76
Tampa Bay Rays 48-41 New York Yankees 84-78
Toronto Blue Jays 44-46 Baltimore Orioles 75-87
Baltimore Orioles 40-48 Toronto Blue Jays 69-93
Analysis: Rays are in the hunt but have some catching up to do. Must improve on directly beating the Red Sox as they already have the Yankees down.
Toronto is about where I expected them. Their hot start was fool's gold and they will be at or near the basement soon, especially once Halladay is traded. Expected this out of a foreign team, where the economy would really hurt them.
Detroit Tigers 48-39 Minnesota Twins 88-74
Chicago White Sox 45-43 Cleveland Indians 87-75
Minnesota Twins 45-44 Kansas City Royals 80-82
Kansas City Royals 37-51 Chicago White Sox 78-84
Cleveland Indians 36-54 Detroit Tigers 73-89
Analysis: Obviously, I was overconfident on the perennially underachieving Royals and bought into the Cleveland hype like a lot of people. However, if you look at their recent trends, they were really good in 2005, inexplicably bad in 2006, almost made it to the World Series in 2007 and bad again last year, so I was playing the odds.
White Sox will fade due to the schedule: seven games left against Boston all starting in late August, still have all their seven games left to play against the Yankees, nine against Minnesota where they are 2-7 this year, 10 against Detroit: Need I say more? Thanks Buster Olney, Mike and Mike for this stat!
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim/Orange County/S. Cal 50-37 Angels 98-64
Texas Rangers 48-39 Oakland A's 82-80
Seattle Mariners 46-43 Texas Rangers 74-88
Oakland A's 37-50 Seattle Mariners 62-100
Analysis: For the Angels it was just a matter of time before they broke through. While I'd be content seeing Texas in the playoffs for the sake of change and something new, since the Angels are Yankee killers, it would be better for them to make it since the Yank$ don't win in LA. As I always say, once they are out, the fun (real playoffs) really begins!
While I still don't believe in Seattle and think its a one-year deal, especially with Texas apparently for real thanks to the Teixeira trade, they should pick up some games in August due to an easy schedule but could end up giving it all back come September with a mildly tougher schedule at best. Looks like the schedule gods saved them.
Philadelphia Phillies 49-38 Philadelphia Phillies 95-67
Florida Marlins 46-45 Florida Marlins 86-76
Atlanta Braves 44-45 New York Mets 84-78
New York Mets 42-46 Atlanta Braves 76-86
Washington Nationals 26-62 Washington Nationals 69-93
Analysis: Easiest division to pick by far. The Phillies are the NL equivalent to the Angels. Old reliable. The cream just needs time to rise.
The Marlins are the NL version of the Twins. Count them out, they'll find a way. It doesn't have to make sense.
Injuries killed the Mets season but they like the Braves are right where I expected them to be.
The Nationals? Until they prove a desire to win (the draft, developing players) they deserve to be here.
St. Louis Cardinals 49-42 Chicago Cubs 97-65
Milwaukee 46-43 St. Louis Cardinals 85-77
Chicago Cubs 44-43 Cincinnati Reds 83-79
Houston Astros 45-44 Milwaukee Brewers 80-82
Cincinnati Reds 42-46 Houston Astros 79-83
Pittsburgh Pirates 38-50 Pittsburgh Pirates 65-97
Analysis: Didn't quite give enough love to the Cardinals, but unlike many I expected them to be good. Brewers still too early to tell, but they are better pitching than I gave them credit for.
Chicago isn't a real threat to do anything; they never are and I'm tired of waiting. When they win the World Series, right after Hell freezes over, I'll be with them in celebration, but until then, quit wasting my time. I got other teams to cheer for that can and will actually do something.
Los Angeles Dodgers 56-33 Los Angeles Dodgers 92-70
San Francisco Giants 49-39 San Francisco Giants 84-78
Colorado Rockies 48-41 Arizona Diamondbacks 77-85
Arizona Diamondbacks 38-51 Colorado Rockies 72-90
San Diego Padres 36-53 San Diego Padres 59-103
Dodgers and Giants easy picks here with the Dodgers being the safest pick in the National League.
Rockies better than advertised due to more pitching than I expected but how will they be affected once Marquis is traded? Diamondbacks clearly overachieved last year but as I noted lost Dunn, Lyon, Johnson, Cruz, and Hudson so that was expected.
We'll see what the second half brings...