The Contenders and Pretenders of the MLB Season so Far
This years surprise so far has to be the Cleveland Indians pitching a 31-19 record. The big question is will the Indians be able to keep their success up or will the long season catch up to them in the end?
In this article i will breakdown the contenders and pretenders of the season so far that have .500 records or better.
Boston Red Sox: Contender
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Newly-acquired stars Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez were not playing up to par and as a matter of fact the entire team seemed to be in a funk.
But now we are closing in on June and the Red Sox are right where we expected them to be on top of the AL East Division. Crawford has been on a tear of late. In his last 10 games, he has hit three of his four home runs and has driven in 11 RBI's.
This makes the Sox a contender.
New York Yankees: Contender
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The Yankees have had more controversy with their veteran stars then they would have like to have. Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada were all over the news due to thier lack of production and in my eyes insanely high contracts.
However when you have Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriquez, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano in your lineup, lack of production from the other five stars can be tolerated.
What will hurt the Yankees is their starting pitching so expect them to make a move at the deadline.
This makes the Yankees a contender.
Tampa Bay Rays: Pretender
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This year's Rays team just doesn't seem to have the spark of the past two seasons. For me this team is on the fence and it really could go either way.
Losing Carl Crawford was a huge blow and I just don't see them having enough firepower to outlast the Yankees or Red Sox. Having a losing record at home so far this year doesn't help either.
The Rays need more production from Evan Longoria if they have any chance. He's hitting a dreadful .237 in 93 at-bats.
Toronto Blue Jays: Contender
When a guy has 20 home runs in 45 games you can start talking MVP even if its this early in the year. That's exactly what Jose Bautista has done so far and he's done it all while still hitting .350 on the year.
The Blue Jays are expected to call up Brett Lawrie because after Saturday's game, the Blue Jays' third basemen are 0-for-45 in their last 13 games. Lawrie has been on fire, tearing up AAA pitching with a stats line of .350-.409-.659 with 14 HRs, 44 RBIs and 11 SBs in 214 at-bats. I'd say that deserves a call up.
If starting pitcher Kyle Drabek can get hot I think their are no limits for this Jays team.
Toronto Blue Jays: Contender
Cleveland Indians: Contender
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This team really reminds me of last year's Padres; not real flashy, but they do the little things right.
Asdrubal Cabrera has started off the season on a tear and the Indians have had some great pitching. Josh Tomlin has been a pleasant surprise going 6-2 with a 2.74 ERA and Chris Perez has picked up 14 saves in 15 opportunities.
Looking at the division, the Tigers are the only team that's .500 or better which should automatically make them a contender.
Detroit Tigers: Pretender
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Justin Verlander is the key to the success of this team. It seems like whenever he is hot the rest of the team picks up. Verlander is 5-3 but has had a few strong outings in a row and has not lost an outing in the month of May.
The Tigers are playing good ball now but there is no way they win the Central Division. Taking a wild card spot will be just as hard if not harder because of how deep the AL East is.
Texas Rangers: Contender
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Anytime you have Josh Hamilton on your team you have a chance. This guy is just a monster and hit a home run on the 2nd pitch he saw after coming back from the DL.
His partner in crime Nelson Cruz is not too bad himself but both guys have spent time on the DL which has definitely hindered their record. If Adrian Beltre can keep his production up, this offense is going to be a hard one to stop.
After last season this team also has the experience and with the exception of Cliff Lee, have kept most of their pieces together.
L.A. Angels: Pretender
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This team is a hard one to put a finger on. The play of Jered Weaver and Dan Haren of late has been good but it just seems like this team does not have the offense firepower to get it done.
Oakland A's: Pretender
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The Oakland A's don't score a lot and they also don't get scored on. So far this year the A's have 197 runs scored and have given up the third fewest in the league with 185.
If you asked a normal fan I can also guarantee that they couldn't name five players on the A's roster. Not saying this is a bad thing but the lack of a star could hurt them as they make a push for the playoffs.
Seattle Mariners: Contender
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King Felix may have gotten roughed up in his last outing against the Yankees, but this guy is the most dominant pitcher in the league. The King is 5-4 on the year but I still feel as if he is the most feared pitcher in the league.
The M's are rolling as well, going 8-2 in their last 10. If the Mariners can pick up a Carlos Beltran-type player before the deadline, I have no problem saying that they could contend for a AL West title.
Philadelphia Phillies: Contender
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Halladay, Oswalt, Lee, Hamels.... Enough Said
Florida Marlins: Contender
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The Fish continue to flourish despite low payroll and horrible attendance. Mike Stanton is one of the best young players in the league and you can argue that they have the best player in the league with Josh Johnson.
I don't see this team winning the division but a wild card berth is not out of the question. With a new stadium coming next year, these Fish are going to want to close this stadium out in fashion.
Atlanta Braves: Contender
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If Hudson, Lowe and Jurrjens can stay healthy, this may be the team to beat for the wild card.
St. Louis Cardinals: Contender
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No team had more controversy heading into the season than the Cardinals. Albert Pujols was trying to get a deal done before the start of spring training but the Cardinals failed. Pujols said he does not want to talk about it during the season, but I believe his contract is distracting him from the game.
Pujols had gone 105 at-bats, and 119 plate appearances, since his last home run on April 23. Both were the longest homerless streaks of his career.
Milwaukee Brewers: Contender
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No team is hotter than the Brew Crew as of now, the team has posted an 8-2 record over their past 10 and show no signs of slowing down. With Prince Fielder becoming a free agent at the end of this season, this may be the Brewers' year to go deep into the playoffs.
If they are out of the race when it comes time for the trading deadline, don't be surprised if they deal Prince for multiple prospects.
If I'm a Cardinals fan, the Brewers are the team that scares me the most.
Cincinnati Reds: Pretender
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Sending down Edinson Volquez to Triple-A was not a good sign for the things to come in Cincinnati. Jay Bruce has been the major performer on offense, smashing 15 homers while driving in 40 RBI's.
I think they're going to have to add a pitcher before the deadline but the problem is that everyone needs pitching. If Volquez can come back up and be dominant, they have a chance but I don't see that happening.
Arizona D-Backs: Contender
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The D-Backs are about as hot as the Arizona sun. Hot, Hot, Hot. Going 9-1 in their last 10 has driven them up the standings into first place. First-year manager Kirk Gibson seems to have a grip on his team and has developed his pitching staff from the worst to one of the best in the league.
In the weak but weird NL West division anything is possible so I have to label them as having a chance.
San Francisco Giants: Contender
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The loss of Buster Posey is going to really hurt the Giants but luckily they play in the NL West. Any team really has a shot in this division, and the former champs seem to have an advantage. Posey is expected to be out 6-8 weeks or even potentially the entire season which is not good news.
Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson continue to lead this team and I expect them to win the division.