This team has had its share of struggles, injuries, and disappointment in the first half, but still lead the division. Their bullpen has been the biggest problem, but appears to be on the upswing. They will probably make a move to strengthen the pitching staff, and with Hamilton, Cruz, Beltre, and Young in the lineup, the rest of the division will not be able to keep up. They will be fine, not great, but fine.
Great pitching staff headed by Haren and Weaver, but no bats. Wells and Hunter have been massive failures, and Brandon Wood was a dud prospect. They will make some kind of run, and its hard to count them out, but I just don't see them keeping up with the Rangers.
Same story, great pitching, Bedard, Vargas, Pineda, and Fister, but no hitting. Ichiro is having a down year, even though they have managed to stay competitive. Milton Bradley was a big disappointment, as his big head outweighed his once solid bat. They had a nice first half, but that will be their only nice half.
When your manager gets fired in the first half of the season, things aren't going well. End of story.
This pitching staff is too good not to win a division title. The hitting is solid with Cabrera and Ordonez anchoring the lineup, this should be a close and fun race to watch, but the Tigers are just a little bit better than the other teams in the division.
Chicago White Sox
They have a decent pitching staff, but too many holes in their lineup. Adam Dunn has been bad in the first half, I expect to see him pick it up some in the later half, but he may just be done. He has had a great career, but that may be coming to a close, and the Nationals made a good choice to not resign him. The bullpen may cost them the division as they have had tons of problems closing out games.
Asdrubal Cabrera has had an amazing first half, dominating highlight reels and swinging the bat quite well. Cleveland has been a nice first half story, as not many people had them competing like they have. I expect them to stay in the race, but I think the youth will catch up to them and they won't be able to win the division. Expect them to be favorites next year though.
The Twins have been on a great run in recent years, but it appears to be over. Mauer and Morneau can't stay healthy, and the pitching staff is disappointing. They had an awful start, and have surged recently, and won't be able to keep up with the three solid teams above them.
Kansas City Royals
They have the best minor league system in baseball, but the worst team in the American League. Give them time, it will take a couple of years.
Boston Red Sox
This isn't an easy pick. This is a really tough division, and the Sox are going through injuries and holes in the rotation. However, they have a great lineup with Ortiz, Youkulis, Gonzalez, Crawford, and Pedroia (the last two have been under preforming and will pick it up soon). This will be another fun race, but I see the Red Sox coming out on top.
Tampa Bay Rays (wild-card)
With 1/3 of the payroll of the Yankees and Redsox, Tampa has been a great story for just keeping up. Even with losing Matt Garza in the offseason, their pitching staff has still been great, especially with Price and Shields. I think this and veteran leadership from Johnny Damon will lead them over the Yankees and into a playoff spot.
New York Yankees
Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but the Yankees have problems. They are relying on Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia to anchor their pitching staff. Can we really trust these guys to have a great second half? They will break down with age, and the law of averages say AJ Burnett will pitch terribly in the second half. Phil Hughes is not what he was last year, leaving serious questions about their pitching staff. Rivera is battling injury, as is A-Rod, who will miss 6 weeks, and lets face it, Derek Jeter is an average player now. They will compete to the end, but one of the three have to be left out, and I think it will be the Yankees.
Toronto Blue Jays
Its a tough world out there. Not a bad team, and they have the best slugger in the league. They lost some of their better pitchers in the offseason, such as Marcum and Downs, and its showing. Morrow hasn't repeated the magic he showed last year, but they still aren't bad, just not good enough.
I don't see why Buck Showalter is so respected. He loses everywhere he goes. Some see hope in the Orioles future, I don't. They should dump veterans like Vlad and Kevin Gregg for prospects at the deadline.
San Francisco Giants
The defending champs have went through some major injuries to key players like Buster Posey, and haven't been great, but they have had some surprises in their pitching staff. Not to mention they also have Cain and Lincecum as keys in their rotation. They are winning their division right now, and I don't see any reason for them not to hang on.
The Diamondbacks have been a nice surprise. Legend Kurt Gibson has done a great managing job their, and if more teams made the playoffs in baseball (like it will be in the future), I would have them going. However, they won't be able to keep up with the Giants and the wild-card is coming out of the East, so they will be a sexy pick next year.
Widely considered a disappointing team, the Rockies haven't quite put it together. Ubaldo Jimenez has not only not repeated his great previous season, but has been downright terrible. I have watched the Rockies less than any other team in baseball, and I struggle to name more than 4 or 5 players on their roster. That makes it hard for me to expect them to pick it up in the second half.
San Diego Padres
These guys can't score any runs. Heath Bell will be traded to the Yankees most likely, as the Yankees need the relief help, and they should also consider trading veterans like Orlando Hudson (who had a great year last year for the Twins). They just had a three game series where they scored a grand total of 1 run.
A lot of talent, some great pitching in Billingsly and Kershaw, and nice bats in Either and Kemp, but they have been bad. Joe Torre couldn't help this team, and now Don Mattingly can't either. Too many executive problems, and bizarre situations will continue to plague this team down the stretch.
They had the lineup last year with Weeks, Braun, Fielder, and Mcghee (who is having a down year this year), but this year they have the pitching (with Gallardo, Greinke, and Marcum). The race will come down to the Cardinals and the Brewers in this division, but I just think the Brewers are too powerful for the Cardinals.
St. Louis Cardinals
Nice team, but they won't make the playoffs for the second straight year. Don't knock LaRussa though as he is a great manager, and they have a great lineup and a nice pitching staff, but again, the Brewers are too much.
They won this division last year, but have been crazily inconsistent this year. They just don't have a good pitching staff. When your opening day starter gets sent down to the minors during the season, your in trouble. A nice lineup, but not good enough for to them to have such a terrible pitching staff.
Nice story, Clint Hurdle has done a great job there so far, and they are much better than they have been in a long time. However, I am still not totally sold on their pitching staff, I don't see them staying in the race down the stretch, but they may be heading in the right direction.
Cubs lose! Cubs lose! One of the bigger disappointments of the season, as additions like Carlos Pena and Matt Garza still have not allowed them to compete. They usually mail it in at this time of the season anyway, so they would be last if it wasn't for the Astros.
This team is the worst in baseball, and their minor league system is bad. That is not a good spot to be in for the new ownership. However, they showed flashes last year with the same team basically. Their bullpen has cost them a mind-numbing amount of games this season, they don't walk or hit for extra-bases. They have some serious holes to fill, and it may be time to move on from manager Brad Mills.
Even with little to no Oswalt, this pitching staff is incredible. They don't always hit, but they may not need to, they are the best team in baseball right now, and I don't see that changing.
Atlanta Braves (wild-card)
This team could probably win any other division in the league, but they are looking up at the Phillies and they won't catch them. Hanson, Jurrgens, Lowe, and Hudson is an amazing rotation, and will carry them to easily win the wild-card. They can't hit very well (Haywood, Uggla, and Jones aren't hitting well) and thats why they aren't the best team in baseball.
What a terrible June! The Braves are probably the happiest about their collapse, as it appeared the Marlins would make a serious run at the wild-card. An 80 year old manager and finally a good hitting Hanley Ramirez will help them down the stretch, but they aren't making the playoffs.
It has been a nice year for the Nationals, even with Jason Werth and Ivan Rodriquez struggling. The strange resigning of their manger didn't help though, and the division is way too tough for the Nationals, but they may be in the running in the next couple of years.
New York Mets
Beltran will be gone, Santana is not pitching an inning this season, Reyes will be gone or on the DL for most of the year, Wright has been on the DL most of the year, so has Ike Davis, and K-Rod will be gone. Money problems (including the strange story with Bernie Madoff) won't help things, get used to this word Mets fan: rebuilding (its only taken the Pirates 19 years to build a decent team).
Call me in 3 months.