MLB Trade Deadline Aftermath: How Each Division Will Shake Out
We've reached a milestone in the 2010 MLB season.
As of this morning, 16 of baseball's 30 teams have played at least 108 games. That means the year is now two-thirds over.
To mark this momentous occasion, Bleacher Report's MLB Featured Columnists are continuing a tradition we started at the beginning of the season and continued in early June: predicting how each division will end up from top to bottom.
With the first four months of the season behind us and the non-waiver trade deadline in the rearview mirror, let's take a look at where things stand.
1. New York Yankees—1.35 (14)
2. Tampa Bay Rays—1.75 (6)
3. Boston Red Sox—2.90
4. Toronto Blue Jays—4.00
5. Baltimore Orioles—5.00
June Predictions: same as above
Real standings: same as above (kudos to Todd Hayek for predicting this in April)
Why the Yankees will win the division (Evan Bruschini)
The Yankees have the best player in the division, Robinson Cano. Top to bottom, they have the best rotation.
Falling behind the Rays hasn’t fazed New York one bit. They went out and made some good additions. Adding Kerry Wood, Austin Kearns, and especially Lance Berkman, while the Rays did nothing, will lift the Yankees to another playoff appearance.
Why the Rays will win the division (Lewie Pollis)
Tampa Bay has the best chance to win the division: It's better equipped than New York to weather slumps and injuries.
There’s no telling if and when a player will get hurt, but the Rays have a deep roster built around versatility and guys like Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson, who are chomping at the bit to get a taste of the Big Show. The Yankees don’t have that kind of insurance.
T1. Chicago White Sox—1.55 (10)
T1. Minnesota Twins—1.55 (10)
3. Detroit Tigers—2.90
4. Cleveland Indians—4.45
5. Kansas City Royals—4.55
June Predictions: Twins, Tigers, White Sox, Indians, Royals
Real standings: White Sox, Twins, Tigers, Royals, Indians (kudos to Brandon Williams)
Why the White Sox will win the division (Adam Rygg)
Despite the loss of Jake Peavy and the non-acquisition of Adam Dunn at the trading deadline, the White Sox have enough talent to win the AL Central.
They addressed their biggest question mark by acquiring Edwin Jackson at the trading deadline, they’ve already overcome a huge deficit in the division to assume the lead, and (perhaps most importantly) the Twins are banged up.
Why the Twins will win the division (Jeremiah Graves)
The Minnesota Twins are going to win the American League Central for one very specific reason: They are the best team in the division. They only figure to get better when they get Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau back at full strength.
The rotation has rebounded in recent weeks, and the bullpen has been stabilized with the addition of Matt Capps.
1. Texas Rangers—1.00 (20)
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—2.25
3. Oakland Athletics—2.80
4. Seattle Mariners—3.95
June Predictions: same as now
Real standings: Rangers, Athletics, Angels, Mariners (no one saw this coming)
Why the Rangers will win the division (Lewie Pollis)
For years, the Rangers have been among the game’s top offensive teams. The only real reason Texas hasn’t seen the playoffs this millennium has been consistently subpar pitching. That’s changed this year, and that’s why the Rangers are the unanimous favorites to carry the wild, wild AL West.
The Rangers’ staff carries a 3.81 ERA—third-best in the league—despite playing half their games in the bandbox that is the Ballpark in Arlington.
Texas is surging towards October thanks largely to its four starting pitchers with ERAs under four: converted reliever C.J. Wilson (3.11), the recently returned from Japan Colby Lewis (3.45), the young Tommy Hunter (3.31), and of course, Cliff Lee (2.51—plus an insane 13.11 K/BB ratio).
Combine that with a lineup that’s averaging nearly five runs a game, and you’ve got the recipe for a championship team.
1. Philadelphia Phillies—1.45 (11)
2. Atlanta Braves—1.55 (9)
3. Florida Marlins—3.50
4. New York Mets—3.60
5. Washington Nationals—4.90
June Predictions: same as now
Real standings: Braves, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Nationals (no one saw this coming)
Why the Phillies will win the division (Evan Bruschini)
Coming into the season, Philadelphia seemed like the runaway favorites to win their third straight NL East crown.
With their recent hot streak, the addition of Roy Oswalt, and stars like Chase Utley coming off the disabled list, it’s only a matter of time before the Phillies reestablish their rightful place as the class of the National League East.
Why the Braves will win the division (Brett Kettyle)
Despite their recent slump, the Braves still sit three games ahead of the Phillies. With Rick Ankiel filling the Braves’ biggest hole, I doubt the Braves will continue to struggle.
The Braves also have over half of their remaining games at home, where they sport the Majors' best record. With the Phillies still battling injuries, the Braves will hold onto the NL East.
1. St. Louis Cardinals—1.20 (16)
2. Cincinnati Reds—1.80 (4)
3. Milwaukee Brewers—3.10
4. Chicago Cubs—4.05
5. Houston Astros—5.15
6. Pittsburgh Pirates—5.70
June Predictions: Cardinals, Reds, Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Astros
Real standings: Cardinals, Reds, Brewers, Astros, Cubs, Pirates (no one saw this coming)
Why the Cardinals will win the division (Evan Bruschini)
The Cardinals and Reds have been pretty comparable up to this point, with one exception: the bullpens. While St. Louis’s has been generally reliable, Cincinnati’s has been shaky outside of Arthur Rhodes.
However, while Cincinnati made no moves to remedy this issue at the deadline, St. Louis added workhorse Jake Westbrook to take some pressure off of their ‘pen. If Cincinnati continues to rely so heavily on its shaky bullpen, St. Louis will come out of the Central smelling like roses.
Why the Reds will win the division (Brandon Williams)
Cincy has two wild cards that have yet to be played: the addition of Chris Heisey into the starting lineup and the recall of Aroldis Chapman.
Heisey—one of the top pinch hitters in the NL—has recently replaced slumping Drew Stubbs, giving the Reds a power bat that has produced a .292/.373/.584 line with a .957 OPS in 102 at-bats entering Tuesday.
Chapman has yet to arrive in the majors, but having a versatile lefty who can run it in excess of a 102 mph is a vicious trump card.
1. San Diego Padres—1.45 (13)
2. San Francisco Giants—2.05 (6)
3. Colorado Rockies—3.20 (1)
4. Los Angeles Dodgers—3.30
5. Arizona Diamondbacks—5.00
June Predictions: Dodgers, Rockies, Giants, Padres, Diamondbacks
Real standings: same as above
Why the Padres will win the division (Todd Hayek)
The San Diego Padres have upgraded their offense with some key additions at the trade deadline and are poised to do what nobody predicted: finish above last place, finish above .500, and finish as the NL West Champions.
Acquiring outfielder Ryan Ludwick from the St. Louis Cardinals and infielder Miguel Tejada from the Baltimore Orioles solidifies their lineup with flexibility, and the Padres’ pitching has been solid all season.
Why the Giants will win the division (Curt Hogg)
The Giants are only one game back of front runner San Diego. All of July they crept back into the picture with outstanding pitching and the bat of rookie Buster Posey.
The pitching trio of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Barry Zito has now turned into a quartet featuring Jonathan Sanchez. As good as San Diego’s staff has been, the Giants’ pitchers have matched them pitch for pitch.
Why the Rockies will win the division (Nino Colla)
It would be foolish to count out the Colorado Rockies after what they did last year. Their hitting leaders are players like Clint Barmes, Ian Stewart, and up-and-coming stud Carlos Gonzalez.
If they can get to this point with their role players stepping up, imagine what type of run they can make with a healthy Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton, and Jorge De La Rosa. Two months is plenty of time for Colorado.
AL Wild Card
Tampa Bay Rays—13
New York Yankees—5
Boston Red Sox—2
Real-life leader: Yankees
On the Rays (Dave Hampton)
The Rays will win the AL Wild Card because of the strength of their fantastic pitching. Matt Garza threw a no-hitter, David Price started the All-Star Game, and Jeff Niemann’s ERA just finally rose above 3.00 in his last start. Supporting cast James Shields and Wade Davis round out an exceptional rotation.
Rafael Soriano is among the game’s best closers, and setup man Joaquin Benoit has the best ERA among AL relievers.
On the Yankees (Matt Esposito)
The Yankees are almost a shoo-in for the playoffs, but this year they must fend off a lethal Tampa Bay Rays team. Pitching could be the difference here, as the Rays rotation is deep with young guns like Niemann, Price, Garza, and now even Jeremy Hellickson. But a polished Yankees lineup could battle back well.
The AL East dogfight will be closer than ever, and this could be the year that the Yanks fall just short of first place again.
On the Red Sox (Thomas Pinzone)
Despite all the injuries suffered by the Red Sox this summer, they still have a chance to catch the Rays or Yankees and earn a wild-card berth. The starting pitchers are all healthy for the first time all season; if the Sox can get good outings from Michael Bowden and Felix Doubront out of the ’pen, Boston still has time to push for the playoffs.
NL Wild Card
San Diego Padres—2
St. Louis Cardinals—2
San Francisco Giants—1
Real-life leader: Giants
On the Braves (Aaron Hooks)
The Braves are in a horse race in the NL East. Now that they’ve got Rick Ankiel, even if they can’t overcome the Phillies to win the division, they’re still going to be heads and shoulders above everyone else in the NL.
On the Phillies (Dennis Schlossman)
Having fought injuries for most of the season, the Phillies may not have the momentum to pull past the Atlanta Braves for the division crown, but if Chase Utley and Ryan Howard return healthy and produce to their capabilities, the Phillies should have no problem claiming the NL wild-card spot.
On the Reds (Steve Keegan)
LeBron defects. Joey Votto gets disrespected. The beloved Browns continue to be a disgrace. The yin has got to yang at some point for Ohio. My money is on the scrappy Reds, who have nothing to lose and play in a very easy division.
On the Padres (Joshua Worn)
This summer the Padres will find themselves falling out of first place due to one team: the San Francisco Giants. The Giants can pitch with the Friars man to man, and their offense, thanks to Buster Posey, Aubrey Huff, and Pat Burrell, can out-slug them.
On the Cardinals (Samantha Bunten)
St. Louis is easily the best team in the NL that is not currently leading its division. After bolstering their rotation with Jake Westbrook at the trade deadline, they should have what it takes to hang in there and come out on top of the wild-card race.
On the Rockies (Matt Esposito)
The Colorado Rockies are no stranger to coming from behind in the standings to make the playoffs. Looking up at an inexperienced team like the Padres, the Rox may have the firepower to overtake them.
The Rockies are notoriously a second-half team. They went 45-29 in the second half last year. The team just clicks after the All-Star break.
On the Giants (Todd Hayek)
When a team has Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Jonathan Sanchez, and Madison Bumgardner in the rotation, they are likely to only continue winning for the rest of the year. If Kung Fu Panda (Pablo Sandoval) can get the stick going, the offense should kick into gear enough to at least finish in wild card ownership.