I’m currently on vacation at a ranch in Colorado, but I wanted to produce a quick article in the name of consistency. This week we’re talkin’ baseball.
With the All-Star Break giving us our “unofficial” mid-way point of the season, I want to analyze which teams are contenders and which teams are pretenders or even worse…..tankers! Make no mistake about it, there are plenty of MLB teams tanking in the hopes of “earning” a high draft pick. Drafting some studs and rebuilding the farm in the hopes of contending in 5 years seems to be a trend that’s picking up steam after many in the industry are seeing the success of the Cubs and President/GM Theo Epstein’s “tanking” and rebuilding scheme. After Epstein was hired in October 2011, he continued the Cubs losing ways, not even “trying” to win baseball games. They were already a 5th place team for 2 years (2010 & ’11) and Epstein continued with that strategy by placing 5th again for another 3 years (’12, ’13, and ’14). That’s right…..the Cubs were a 5th place team for 5 consecutive years!!!! Many people have already forgotten this even though I can remember several friends of mine that swore off the Cubs forever during this time. Over these 5 years the Cubs “earned” the following draft spots: 9, 6, 2, 4, 9. Do you know who was drafted in these spots? These picks turned into……
- #9 2011 : SS Javier Baez
- #6 2012 : OF Albert Almora
- #2 2013 : 3B Kris Bryant
- #4 2014 : C Kyle Schwarber
- #9 2015 : OF Ian Happ
Do you see a common theme here? They are all position players….hitters drafted in the Top 10. So what you have is a strategy that started to pay off last season with the Cubs magical NLCS run. Will it continue with no pitching prospects? It may, but don’t be too sure. This is still the Cubs……Losers since 1908!
AL Contenders (Contending….at least until the Trade Deadline, in order of my Power Rankings)
- Toronto Blue Jays (51-40) – Awesome collection of hitters
- Baltimore Orioles (51-36) – Good lineup, good pitching; best overall?
- Texas Rangers (54-36) – They’re not as good as this record
- Boston Red Sox (49-38) – Good hitting, bad pitching but just added Drew Pomeranz
- Cleveland Indians (52-36) – Not as good as this record
- Houston Astros (48-41) – Good or Bad…..not even sure THEY know.
- Chicago White Sox (45-43) – Sox are like the ‘Stros, not sure if they are truly contenders
AL Pretenders (they might think they’re good, but they’re not)
- Detroit Tigers (46-43) – I think they’re good but the bullpen is killing them
- Kansas City Royals (45-43) – Not the same team as the 2 time defending AL Champs
- New York Yankees (44-44) – They just want to move past bad big money contracts on old guys like A-Rod, Teixeira, Sabath, which reminds me of an old email joke: “Hey dude, did you CC Sabathia me???”
- Seattle Mariners (45-44)
AL Tankers (they know they stink and they WANT to finish in Last Place)
- Minnesota Twins (32-56) – Already announced EVERYONE was available
- Oakland A’s (38-51) – GM Billy Beane continues to sell off ANY asset
- Los Angeles Angels (37-52) – They’re not good but pretend to be
- Tampa Bay Rays (34-54) – No Direction…..sounds like a boy band
Overall, the American League has 11 decent to good teams with only 4 bad teams. I’m not sure there is a GREAT team among them but we’ve only played half the season so we’ll see.
- San Francisco Giants (57-33) – The lone GREAT team?
- Washington Nationals (54-36) – Potentially great
- Chicago Cubs (53-35) – Unreal start (25-6) but more “Cub-like” 28-29 since
- Los Angeles Dodgers (51-40) – Hard to gauge LA
- New York Mets (47-41) – Injuries hurting their chance to repeat as NL Champs
- Pittsburgh Pirates (46-43) – Should be better
- St. Louis Cardinals (46-42) – Has the “Cardinal Way” finally hit a brick wall?
- Miami Marlins (47-41) – They’re not that good, believe me
NL Tankers (Ranked in terms of successfully tanking)
- Atlanta Braves (31-58) – Awesome at being poor
- Philadelphia Phillies (42-48) – How are they winning games? Must be the weak NL
- Cincinnati Reds (32-57) – Selling everyone, now Jay Bruce?
- Milwaukee Brewers (38-49) – I usually recognize only about 2-3 players in their lineup….and I’m a fan!
- San Diego Padres (38-51)
- Colorado Rockies (40-48)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (38-52)
The National League is currently a hit or miss league. This is the “Anti-Parity” League. In fact, the 8 Contenders often have better records than they deserve because they get cheap, easy wins over the 7 Tankers. The Tankers are GIVING them wins. Last year’s Cubs are the best example. They won 97 games and they weren’t even very good. They were a 3rd Place team with 97 wins. Has that ever happened in the history of baseball? Let me look it up….the answer is NO……at least in the divisional era.
“According to Elias Sports Bureau, Chicago became the first third-place team to reach 94 wins in a season since the divisional era began, according to NBC Chicago.” Chicago Sun-Times 10/1/2015
So now you know how I feel about the AL vs the NL. I’ll go into more detail in a future article. For now, since I’m strapping on my cowboy boots in a horse saddle near Denver, let me leave you with one “Nugget” of info until then. The AL is 16-3-1 in the last 20 All-Star Games.
Until next time!!!