Tradition dictates that the baseball season is unofficially divided into thirds.
In April and May, fans and coaches assess their teams' rosters. June and July are spent reacting to their earlier observations—making trades and calling up prospects—and August and September are all about the hunt for October.
This week, each team will see the final outs of Game No. 54. And so, with Act II on the horizon, it's time for Bleacher Report's MLB Featured Columnists to revisit our division predictions.
With just eight weeks of baseball under our belts, there are plenty of flukes still waiting to be unexposed. But we've seen enough to start drawing some conclusions.
Thanks to everyone who voted and submitted analyses, and have a great Memorial Day!
1. Tampa Bay Rays—1.28 (13)
2. New York Yankees—1.83 (5)
3. Boston Red Sox—2.94
4. Toronto Blue Jays—3.94
5. Baltimore Orioles—5.00
April Predictions: Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays
Current Standings: Rays, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles (good call, Todd Hayek)
The Red Sox struggled out of the gate and the Rays have the best record in baseball. As a result, it's essentially a two-team race in the AL East.
Why I changed my mind about the Red Sox: (Nino Colla)
I not only picked the Red Sox to win the AL East, I pretty much picked them to win the whole thing.
Why did I rank them to finish third this time around? Well I’m slightly crazy but not fully insane.
The Rays are clearing a path to the playoffs right now and the Yankees are right behind them. As optimistic as I am about them bouncing back, the odds of them taking the division crown are very low.
1. Minnesota Twins—1.17 (15)
2. Detroit Tigers—2.22 (2)
3. Chicago White Sox—2.78 (1)
4. Cleveland Indians—4.17
5. Kansas City Royals—4.67
April Predictions: Twins, White Sox, Tigers, Indians, Royals
Current Standings: Twins, Tigers, White Sox, Royals, Indians (good call, Jordan Bratt and Joshua Worn)
Detroit's hot start and Chicago's early slump have shifted the balance of power in the mediocre AL Central.
Why I changed my mind about the White Sox: (Brett Kettyle)
Coming into the season, I loved the White Sox' chances to take the AL Central.
With a healthy Jake Peavy, the Sox would have a really good pitching staff, and their bullpen was solid as well. I was banking on a rebound seasons from Alex Rios (which happened) and Alexei Ramirez (which didn’t) as well as a solid sophomore campaign from Gordon Beckham.
But so far, Peavy and the offense have struggled, and the team is already seven games behind the Twins. The White Sox have more problems than I realized.
1. Texas Rangers—1.33 (12)
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—2.22 (4)
3. Oakland Athletics—2.83 (2)
4. Seattle Mariners—3.61
April Predictions: Angels, Mariners, Rangers, Athletics
Current Standings: Athletics, Rangers, Angels, Mariners (no one saw this coming)
In how many divisions could a sub-.500 team get more first-place votes than the actual leader? Welcome to the AL West.
Why I changed my mind about the Mariners: (Lewie Pollis)
Pitching and defense. That was what would supposedly push Seattle towards the top of the division.
In that sense, the M's have done well; their 3.72 ERA is good for second in the Junior Circuit, while their 11.9 UZR ranks fourth in the AL.
Yet the Mariners are sinking because their offense has been absolutely anemic.
Seattle is dead-last in the league in OBP (.310), SLG (.346), and wOBA (.396). They’ll need to score some more runs if they want to compete in the AL West.
1. Philadelphia Phillies—1.00 (18)
2. Atlanta Braves—2.39
3. Florida Marlins—3.61
4. New York Mets—3.94
5. Washington Nationals—4.06
April Predictions: Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Mets, Nationals
Current Standings: Phillies, Braves, Mets, Nationals, Marlins (no one saw this coming)
Not much has changed in the NL East, where the Phillies are the only team that is the unanimous favorite to win its division.
Why I changed my mind about the Marlins: (Joshua Worn)
The Marlins will fall in the standings due to a few reasons.
They are going to be a product of a suddenly competitive division thanks to Philadelphia, New York, Washington, and Atlanta; every team in the NL East could win 81+ games and only one could make the playoffs.
Because of that, teams will be wheeling and dealing this summer, and thanks to the Marlins' inability to take on salary, they could be the odd team out. It’s that simple.
1. St. Louis Cardinals—1.11 (16)
2. Cincinnati Reds—2.00 (2)
3. Chicago Cubs—3.28
4. Milwaukee Brewers—3.78
5. Pittsburgh Pirates—5.06
6. Houston Astros—5.78
April Predictions: Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, Reds, Pirates, Astros
Current Standings: Reds, Cardinals, Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Astros (no one saw this coming)
The Reds' hot start and the Brewers' and Cubs' struggles have shifted the balance of power in the NL Central.
Why I changed my mind about the Reds: (Matt Poloni)
At the beginning of the year, I just didn’t realize how good the Reds' pitching could be.
Mike Leake has been better than I expected and Aroldis Chapman and Travis Wood are ready to step into the major league rotation when someone else pitches their way out of it. The bullpen has been pretty good, too, despite having a combined .339 BABIP.
They already had power, speed, and defense, but their pitching will put them over the top.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers—2.06 (8)
2. Colorado Rockies—2.28 (5)
3. San Francisco Giants—2.61 (5)
4. San Diego Padres—3.22
5. Arizona Diamondbacks—4.83
April Predictions: Rockies, Dodgers, Giants, Diamondbacks, Padres
Current Standings: Padres, Dodgers, Giants, Rockies, Diamondbacks (no one saw this coming)
The Padres' biggest story this season was supposed to be the Adrian Gonzalez trade sweepstakes. Apparently they—or anyone else in the NL West—didn't get the memo.
Why I changed my mind about the Padres: (Aaron Hooks)
Let’s not mince words here—the Padres, on paper, should suck. Hard.
I was convinced as the season convinced that the Padres would not only eclipse the Pirates as the worst team in baseball, but that they’d also make a run at the worst single season in baseball history.
A quarter of a season later, the Fathers are in first place and one of the more cohesive units in all of baseball.
No matter what Bill James says, when a group of guys stops worrying about what you or I or they think about them and start believing they should win, well, that counts.
Right now the Padres aren’t a good team. They just refuse to believe it.
San Diego Padres—10
Toronto Blue Jays—2
New York Mets—1
New York Yankees—1
San Francisco Giants—1
Why the Padres will regress: (Asher Chancey)
The San Diego Padres have gotten off to a fast start largely on the strength of some serious over-achievement, particularly on the pitching staff. Once the Padres’ pitching comes back down to earth we should see this team fall back below the .500 mark. Unless, of course, you believe that Jon Garland is the next Sandy Koufax.
Why the Blue Jays will fall: (Matt Poloni)
There’s no way that Vernon Wells, Jose Bautista, John Buck, and Alex Gonzalez are going to continue the pace their on. Kevin Gregg has seen a resurgence, but the bullpen overall isn’t very good. They have a below average defensive team and I have doubts about their rotation. Good luck in the AL East, guys.
Why the Nationals will crumble: (Lewie Pollis)
The Nats are no longer the laughingstock of baseball, but don't expect this hot streak to last. The key to their success has been winning close games (they're 20-14 in games decided by three or fewer runs)—can they really keep that up? They'll finish the year as a respectable team, but don't expect them to make a serious run at the playoffs.
Boston Red Sox—4
Chicago White Sox—3
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—2
Why the Red Sox will bounce back: (Nick Cafferky)
The fact that Boston has started so terribly should basically be set aside as a slow start. Boston was looked at as a team with great defense and pitching, but these were actually the problems. The pitching has since stepped up and David Ortiz looks like he is turning things around. I’m not saying they will win then pennant, but they will certainly make things interesting.
Why the Rockies will rise again: (Bob Warja)
The Colorado Rockies have won five in a row and own a +32 run differential so far, all while Todd Helton sits with just one home run. With an expected return to form by Helton, and a deep and talented team, and the best pitcher on the planet in Ubaldo Jiminez, this club is poised to take off and win the West this year.
Why the White Sox will rally: (Brandon Williams)
Early season slumps from SS Alexei Ramirez and 2B Gordon Beckham show signs of ending, while RF Carlos Quentin is also due for a torrid run at the plate. The AL Central is still anyone’s race, and if the White Sox can get someone the caliber of Roy Oswalt to bolster a disappointing staff, they’ll be factors as the weather gets hotter.
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