With June coming to a close, we are three months in to the six month long MLB regular season. So we can look at the standings and see what we have so far, and who will likely be in the post season and who most definitely will not be. Who are the big surprises and who are the big disappointments?
When the season began, many were high on the Houston Astros. They were the up and coming young team with stars like Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, George Springer, Colby Rasmus and Dallas Keuchel. But, what people forgot was the Astros had a very painful end to their post season last year when they looked like they had the Kansas City Royals packing up early and heading for the golf courses. But a late meltdown in Game Four of the ALDS and they were the ones looking at tee times.
It’s tough to put an ending like that out of your mind, especially when you watch the team you just blew it against go on to win it all. The Astros came back this season and understandably got off to a terrible start. The bad start lingered on for two months. On May 31, the Astros were 24-29, 7.5 games behind the Texas Rangers. But in June they have gotten it going back in the right direction a bit. They now sit at 40-37. Unfortunately for them, the Texas Rangers have been even better and they are now 10 games back, but they are in second place instead of fourth. And the fact that they are back above .500 has to have them feeling good about a possible A.L Wild Card berth.
The Rangers look like a mortal lock to make it back to the post season. They are another team who suffered a heartbreaking loss in last year’s ALDS. They led the Toronto Blue Jays 2-0 in a best of five and were heading back home needing only one win, which never came. What did come was “The Bat Flip” that a season later led to some fisticuffs between the two teams. They did not get off to a great start either but since Rougned Odor landed that big punch on Jose Bautista, it seemed to get the Rangers going.
In the Central, the Cleveland Indians may just get a boost from the Cavaliers lifting the “Cleveland Curse” in the NBA Finals. They have been playing great baseball in June, while the Cavs were winning the championship. Sometimes when a jinx is broken, it opens a gate. Could the Tribe be the next championship team from “The Land”? Right now they look like they will at least be in the playoffs.
Francisco Lindor is one of the game’s best young players and the Indians pitching staff is one of the best in the American League. Them winning the central seems like a good chance.
The Royals can never be counted out and it would be a mistake to try to do that to them this year too. Yes, they have been very bad on the road, but at home they are nearly unbeatable. And we all saw last year that they are never out of it, in a game or in a race. They are also a club that has shown they can add the right pieces at the trade deadline. They sit at 40-25 right now in second place, five games behind. An Astros vs Royals Wild Card Game would be so much fun to watch and seems highly possible.
In the East we have the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox. The O’s are the hot team right now and the Sox are struggling a bit. But lurking not too far behind are the Toronto Blue Jays. As of this articles writing the Jays are only a game behind the Sox and truthfully, they are the more dangerous team with guys like Bautista, Tulo and Donaldson. Toronto is in a good space to win this division if they make some more good trade deadline moves like last year.
Whoever you like to make it in or not, this promises to be an exciting A.L. Pennant Race. Teams like the Red Sox, New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox still feel like they have a great chance to get in and should have the cash to make some moves to bolster their teams.
Sellers at the deadline would likely be teams like the Tampa Bay Rays, who have some guys a contender might want such as Evan Longoria, Jake Odorizzi, or perhaps even Chris Archer. The Oakland A’s are also out of it, so look for them to move Khris Davis or Sonny Gray.
Whatever happens the rest of the way, it should definitely be exciting.