Leach’s Lists: MLB Second Half Preview- American League
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As we charge past the MLB All-Star break and look towards teams playoff runs, there are a lot if surprise teams, (Oakland, Cleveland, Pittsburgh) that showed us in the first half that they might have what it takes and a lot of teams we thought would be playing a lot better, (Cincinnati, Detroit, Los Angeles Dodgers), that have some work to do. I am going to take a look at both leagues and give my second half predictions on who is going to be playing in October, who the award winners will be, and who to look for as a surprise team to sneak into October Madness.
AL EAST-BALTIMORE ORIOLES- The O’s under Buck Showalter’s stewardship have been a team on the rise since the second he took over. They made it all the way to the ALDS last season before losing to the Yanks in 5 games. This season they look primed to go even further. With the incredible power hitting of Chris Davis and Manny Machado and a rotation that has been consistent all season long, the O’s are built to get to a World Series. Now add in reliever and former WS winner K-Rod, who the O’s someone how got from Milwaukee for prospect Nick Delomico and a bag of peanuts, their biggest weakness might have just been shored up.
Key Stat- 4th in MLB with .269 team batting average
Predicted Record- 100-62
Second place- Boston Red Sox
AL CENTRAL-DETROIT TIGERS- The Tigers simply have the best team in MLB when you look at their lineup and pitching staff’s balance and power. Miguel Cabrera is easily the best player and baseball and what Max Scherzer has done this season has been nothing short of sensational, 14-1 at present. With a heating up V mart (.425 avg in July), the crafty veteran leadership and play of Torri Hunter, and the ability to absolutely mash by Prince Fielder, the Tigers are scary offensively. Even though former Cy young and MVP Justin Verlander has struggled at times to have the 1-2 punch of him and Scherzer will be daunting for any team that plays them in a 5 or 7 game series. The Tigers do have a glaring issue in the bullpen, but with the fine job that Joaquin Benoit has done since taking over the closer role, and the inevitable move the Tigs General Manager Dave Dombrowski will make at the deadline, there is no reason to think Detroit should be anything but the favorite to represent the AL in the Fall Classic.
KEY STAT-AL Leading +94 Run differential -way ahead of the pace from last season when the Tigers won the division.
PREDICTED RECORD 101-61
Second place- Cleveland Indians
AL WEST-OAKLAND A’S- these might not be the “Moneyball” A’s of the early 2000’s, but they are just as exciting to watch. The job that Gm Billy Beane has done yet again putting this team together with a 68$ million payroll, the fifth lowest in MLB, has been phenomenal. The A’s come at you in many ways, but the most impressive is how they never give up on themselves in-game and are an AL leading 7-3 in extra Inning games and have five walk-off wins so far this season. The A’s can hurt you in so many ways and seem to be getting better as the season goes on and with players like Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson, and B Moss offensively and the arms of a revived Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour, the Athletics seemed primed to make another run at a division title.
KEY STAT- Only have allowed 381 runs, least in the American League.
PREDICTED RECORD- 98-64
Second Place- Texas Rangers
WILDCARDS-BOSTON RED SOX AND TEXAS RANGERS
AL MVP-Miguel Cabrera- Tigers
AL CY YOUNG-Max Scherzer- Tigers
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR-Buck Showalter- Orioles
ALCS- BALTIMORE VS DETROIT – DETROIT IN 6 GAMES
WORLD SERIES (