1. New York Yankees (64-42)
Even though the Phillies have the most wins, the Yankees are the team that impresses me the most. I still see the Yankees as the favorites to win the World Series to this point because their lineup is a little bit stronger than the Phillies, even with the new addition of Hunter Pence.
No other team is in the top five in the runs scored and fewest runs against categories like the Yankees currently are.
2. Boston Red Sox (66-40)
The additions of Erik Bedard and Mike Aviles are decent ones with the current loss of Clay Buchholz and the need for a little more depth offensively. If the Red Sox get a little more out of their pitching from here on, they could be wearing T-shirts and hats that say “AL East Champions” on them during the final week of the regular season.
3. Philadelphia Phillies (68-39)
The addition of Hunter Pence is a great one for the Phillies. His 103 homers and 378 RBI over his first five major league seasons prove that he can get the job done. And with the Phillies having a good offense, Pence could help the Phillies get into the top 10 in runs scored.
4. Texas Rangers (61-48)
The Rangers did a nice job before the MLB trade deadline, adding Mike Adams and Koji Uehara. On paper, this could help the Rangers pitching improve. And if their pitching improves over these final two months, the Rangers could see home-field advantage in both the ALDS and ALCS.
But they still have to finish off the Angels for the AL West first.
5. Atlanta Braves (63-46)
The addition of Michael Bourn gives the Braves much more speed on the basepaths. The Braves pitching staff has done a fabulous job this year. If their offense steps it up, they could give the Phillies a strong fight for home-field advantage in the NL playoffs.
6. St. Louis Cardinals (57-51)
Offensively, the Cardinals are very strong. If Lance Berkman, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday continue to stay strong, then the NL Central will be the Cards’ to take.
7. Cincinnati Reds (53-55)
Like the Cardinals, the Reds offense has carried them pretty much the whole year. If their starting pitching can step it up a notch for these final two months, they can get into the playoffs once again. They give up an average of 4.33 runs per game, which isn’t too great.
8. Tampa Bay Rays (56-51)
I wasn’t surprised that the Rays didn’t make moves at the trade deadline. They seem like they are comfortable with the way they are. Trading away names like B.J. Upton and James Shields wouldn’t make much sense.
If the Yankees or Red Sox have one bad stretch of games, the Rays could be back in the AL East race.
9. Arizona Diamondbacks (59-49)
One of the more exciting stories in baseball right now. Like the Pittsburgh Pirates, hardly anybody would expect the Diamondbacks to have a good team this year. All they have to do is get a little better with their pitching and they could see the playoffs and knock off the defending the world champions.
10. Los Angeles Angels (59-50)
Led by Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, the Angels pitching has been dominating this season. But their offense is what has kept them from catching the Rangers in the AL West. If their offense (3.86 runs per game) can step it up over these final two months, they will represent the AL West in the playoffs and will be a huge dark horse to get to the World Series.
11. Toronto Blue Jays (55-53)
The Blue Jays have had a decent team all year long, but it’s such a shame that they are in the AL East that includes the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. Because of this, you can pretty much count them out of the playoff race for the remainder of the season.
They have a great offense, but because of their poor pitching, it’s looking like they will be sitting home on their couches in October. The only intriguing story involving the Blue Jays right now is the possibility of Jose Bautista (110 hits, 31 home runs, 71 RBI) winning the AL Most Valuable Player Award.
12. New York Mets (55-53)
The Mets have had a great stretch of games recently, but because they are in the same division as the Phillies and Braves, they could be counted out right now. They have a great offense (4.5 runs per game) but their pitching has struggled this year and because of this, it’s going to be difficult for them to catch the Phillies and Braves for a chance at the playoffs.
13. Milwaukee Brewers (60-49)
This is a team I’m hoping gets over the hump and makes the playoffs this year. They aren’t the most nationally popular team in the majors by a long shot but they have so many great offensive players like Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart.
If their offense continues to play great and if they continue to be unstoppable at home (league-best 39-14 home record), they will be representing the NL Central in the playoffs.
14. San Francisco Giants (61-47)
As a baseball fan, I love teams that have explosive lineups. This is exactly what the Giants don’t have. I would be shocked if the Giants repeated as World Series champions. They only average 3.53 runs per game which is not good at all.
We haven’t seen a baseball team repeat as champions since 2000 when the Yankees did it and I honestly don’t think the Giants will break that streak this year. Mainly because of their poor offense.
15. Pittsburgh Pirates (54-52)
Can we give Clint Hurdle the Manager of the Year Award now? He’s going to get it eventually. I still don’t think the Pirates are going to make the playoffs this year but regardless of what happens over the remainder of the season, they did a great job of surprising baseball around the nation.
Clint Hurdle has done a great job at making fans turn their heads and say to their buddies “Hey, this Pirates team is kinda good.”
16. Detroit Tigers (57-51)
The Tigers are my favorites to win the AL Central. Led by Miguel Cabrera (117 hits, 22 homers, 68 RBI), they have the best offense in the division and have a great manager in Jim Leyland.
But with that said, I also think the AL Central is the weakest division. This leads me to believe that if the Tigers win the division, they won’t make it past the ALDS. Through the first 108 games, the Tigers' total run differential is at a minus-six. That means that to this point, the Tigers have given up six more runs than they have scored themselves.
The other teams in the AL Central have a negative number for total run differential as well: White Sox (minus-seven), Indians (minus-12), Royals (minus-47), Twins (minus-91).
17. Chicago White Sox (52-54)
As I just mentioned in the Tigers’ section, if the White Sox happen to win the AL Central, I still don’t believe that have any chance at winning the World Series. I don’t know of any team in the history of the MLB that entered August under .500 and won the World Series.
Offensively, they aren’t too exciting, averaging 3.93 runs per game.
18. Oakland Athletics (49-59)
You can pretty much count this team out as far as winning the AL West. They are currently 10 games under .500 and are 11.5 games behind the Rangers. There’s no way they are going to catch Texas or get past the Angels and their hot pitching staff.
The best story regarding the Athletics this year is the emergence of Gio Gonzalez and his great season (2.84 ERA, 129 strikeouts).
19. Colorado Rockies (51-57)
What’s odd about the Rockies is that they are only 26-26 at home. I thought the Rockies would be one of those teams that would have a great home record because they are more used to the thin air up there by the Rocky Mountains and when visiting teams come to Coors Field, they could struggle playing because they aren’t used to being at such a high elevation.
Now that Ubaldo Jimenez is in Cleveland, that pretty much means that the Rockies have no chance of making the playoffs this season.
20. Cleveland Indians (53-52)
Even though the Indians just acquired Ubaldo Jimenez, I still don’t think that will help them get into the playoffs. Ever since their hot start at the beginning of the year, the Indians have been just mediocre. They are also only 4-12 against the White Sox and Twins this year.
21. Washington Nationals (51-56)
The Nationals are pretty much done as far as winning their division. They only average 3.85 runs per game and are only 18-25 against the NL East.
22. San Diego Padres (47-62)
The only thing exciting about the Padres is their pitching staff. They only give up an average of 3.77 runs per game but other than that, they aren’t an exciting team at all. Their offense has only scored 383 total runs to this point, they have a 22-34 home record and are only 16-23 against the rest of the NL West.
23. Florida Marlins (53-55)
Despite the Marlins having no chance of getting to the playoffs, they are one of the better road teams in the majors. They are one of only seven teams in the majors to have won 30 road games to this point.
Mike Stanton is also another name that baseball fans should get used to. He’s turning into one of the most talented baseball players in the game. Stanton currently has 94 hits, 24 homers and 63 RBI. Oh, and he’s only 21 years old.
24. Los Angeles Dodgers (48-59)
It’s a shame that the Dodgers have gone through so much this year. The front-office and ownership issues are compounded by the poor offense (only 393 total runs scored this year). There’s no telling what’s going to happen from here on out this year.
25. Kansas City Royals (46-62)
Despite being the only team in the mediocre AL Central that has won more than five of their last 10 games, the Royals are still only at 46 wins, an 18-33 road record and 11 games behind the Tigers.
26. Seattle Mariners (45-62)
Bold prediction: Felix Hernandez will not be a Seattle Mariner after the end of the 2012 baseball season. Bank on it.
27. Minnesota Twins (50-58)
After their absolutely terrible start, the Twins have recently shown signs of life. Despite being eight games under .500, they are still only seven games behind the Tigers in the division. I’m sure the Twins are saying to themselves “Thank God we're in a mediocre division.”
28. Chicago Cubs (43-65)
How is a team with a great baseball stadium, passionate fans and a wonderful city have such a bad team? Only 43 wins right now, 18-34 road record and giving up an average of five runs per game.
29. Baltimore Orioles (42-63)
Living in northern Texas and having seen many Rangers games, I’ll say this to you Orioles fans: For those of you who are actually excited about getting Chris Davis (.238, three HR, six RBI) and Tommy Hunter on your team (2.93 ERA, 10 strikeouts), you’re really not getting much.
30. Houston Astros (35-73)
Another bold prediction: Carlos Lee will not be a Houston Astro at the end of the 2012 season.
Carter’s Award’s Watch List
AL Most Valuable Player Award
1. Jose Bautista (TOR): .324 AVG, 110 hits, 31 HRs, 71 RBI
2. Paul Konerko (CHW): .305 AVG, 113 hits, 25 HRs, 76 RBI
3. Curtis Granderson (NYY): .269 AVG, 105 hits, 28 HRs, 78 RBI
4. Miguel Cabrera (DET): .311 AVG, 117 hits, 22 HRs, 68 RBI
5. Mark Teixeira (NYY): .249 AVG, 99 hits, 29 HRs, 79 RBI
6. Adrian Beltre (TEX): .276 AVG, 107 hits, 20 HRs, 76 RBI
7. Nelson Cruz (TEX): .262 AVG, 88 hits, 23 HRs, 69 RBI
NL Most Valuable Player Award
1. Matt Kemp (LAD): .317 AVG, 123 hits, 26 HRs, 82 RBI
2. Justin Upton (ARI): .303 AVG, 124 hits, 21 HRs, 65 RBI
3. Prince Fielder (MIL): .296 AVG, 112 hits, 24 HRs, 76 RBI
4. Ryan Braun (MIL): .322 AVG, 116 hits, 21 HRs, 71 RBI
5. Lance Berkman (STL): .286 AVG, 87 hits, 27 HRs, 69 RBI
6. Albert Pujols (STL): .280 AVG, 102 hits, 24 HRs, 65 RBI
7. Mike Stanton (FLA): .258 AVG, 94 hits, 24 HRs, 63 RBI
AL Cy Young Award
1. Jered Weaver (LAA): 14-5, 1.88 ERA, 142 strikeouts
2. Justin Verlander (DET): 15-5, 2.24 ERA, 178 strikeouts
3. C.C. Sabathia (NYY): 15-5, 2.56 ERA, 156 strikeouts
4. Josh Beckett (BOS): 9-4, 2.17 ERA, 115 strikeouts
5. Gio Gonzalez (OAK): 9-8, 2.84 ERA, 129 strikeouts
6. Justin Masterson (CLE): 8-7, 2.56 ERA, 112 strikeouts
7. Dan Haren (ARI): 11-6, 2.89 ERA, 131 strikeouts
NL Cy Young Award
1. Roy Halladay (PHI): 13-4, 2.44 ERA, 152 strikeouts
2. Clayton Kershaw (LAD): 12-4, 2.72 ERA, 173 strikeouts
3. Ryan Vogelsong (SF): 8-1, 2.23 ERA, 79 strikeouts
4. Jair Jurrjens (ATL): 12-3, 2.38 ERA, 84 strikeouts
5. Cole Hamels (PHI): 12-6, 2.61 ERA, 140 strikeouts
6. Johnny Cueto (CIN): 7-4, 1.72 ERA, 67 strikeouts
7. Tim Lincecum (SF): 9-8, 2.78 ERA, 152 strikeouts