There are more than a few reasons why summertime is the best time of year: the weather is great, the start of vacation season is upon us, there’s the smell of barbecue in the air, and there’s baseball fever all over America.
Let’s take a look around the MLB two months into the 2017 season.
*This article was originally published in the May/June Edition of the AHS School Newspaper, the Nutshell*.
- Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles are leading the AL East yet again thanks to another fast start, fueled by phenomenal play at home (15-3 at Oriole Park). The bullpen needs work, but few clubs can mash like the O’s.
- New York Yankees: It has been a great start for the Yankees this year, who have exceeded expectations. Their offense is one of the best in the game, but the Bombers will only go as far as their pitching can take them.
- Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays have jumped out of the gates this year, leading the AL in home runs. They are short on star power, but the Rays could be an intriguing sleeper team down the stretch.
- Boston Red Sox: The consensus AL favorite, the Red Sox are sitting at 21-21 and out of the playoffs right now. There is still lots of time left in the season, but Red Sox fans must have reason for concern at this point.
- Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays lost some key players this offseason, and the replacements haven’t stepped up. It’s looking like the Blue Jays’ window may be starting to close.
- Minnesota Twins: For the second straight year, the Twins have gotten off to a good start and are currently in playoff position. The Twins seem to be overachieving, but maybe they are finally ready to take the next step. They’ll be an interesting club to watch this year.
- Cleveland Indians: The reigning AL Champions, the Tribe hasn’t missed a beat this year. In a weak division, the Indians are the clear-cut favorites.
- Detroit Tigers: The Tigers will always score lots of runs, but they will also allow lots of runs. Their high-pressure style of play hasn’t bred a playoff team since 2014, and it might be time to rebuild.
- Chicago White Sox: Times are tough for the ChiSox right now, but no team has a better farm system than the South Siders, who have an extremely bright future ahead of them.
- Kansas City Royals: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The 2014 AL Champs and 2015 World Series Champs cannot muster up any offense, and the Royals’ time as contenders is officially over.
- Houston Astros: No team has been more dominant this year than the young Astros. They play an exciting brand of baseball, and their time as an MLB powerhouse is just beginning.
- Texas Rangers: The Rangers got off to a slow start, but they have won nine straight games and are now in the thick of the race. They have been stricken by injuries, but the Rangers will always look to add more pieces via trade to reach the playoffs.
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Sitting just one game under .500, the Angels have given their fans some hope this year. Still, the club is wasting Mike Trout’s prime years and needs to shift out of neutral: either tear it all down or add more players.
- Oakland Athletics: Can we even say the A’s are rebuilding anymore? After so many years without success, Oakland needs a fresh look at things. They cannot continue toiling in the AL West cellar.
- Seattle Mariners: Some pundits thought the M’s would take a big step forward this year, while I remained skeptical on Seattle. So far, the Mariners have been a big disappointment, and may look to sell.
- Washington Nationals: The Nats are living proof that regular season success is not always conducive to postseason results. However, Washington looks better than ever this year and is a lock to win the MLB’s weakest division.
- Atlanta Braves: It is a huge shock to see the Braves up in second place, but it really has more to do with the Mets and Phillies struggling than the Braves being that good. However, the Braves could be a playoff team as early as next season.
- New York Mets: Nothing has gone right for the Mets this year. Their All-Star pitching has gotten hurt, the lineup is punchless, and the team has lost New York City back to the Yankee fans. The Mets are still too talented to count out, though.
- Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies have a lot of young talent, but they are having a hard time turning it into a winner. Philly fans shouldn’t stop trusting the process though, as the future is bright.
- Miami Marlins: A team with as much talent as the Marlins shouldn’t be this bad every year. A new ownership group, headed by Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush, might be the best thing to happen to the Marlins.
- Milwaukee Brewers: Much like the Twins in the AL, the Brewers have gotten off to an unexpected start and are leading their division. However, I just don’t see the Brew Crew keeping it up, especially with the Cubs and Cardinals close behind.
- Louis Cardinals: Baseball fans were lamenting the collapse of the Cardinals after they started the year 3-9, but St. Louis is a resilient club that has the playoffs in their sights, especially with the Cubs struggling.
- Chicago Cubs: The Cubs are now seeing just how hard it is to defend a World Championship. Sitting at 21-21, the Cubs will ultimately turn it around, but can they beat the other top teams in the NL again?
- Cincinnati Reds: Just a week ago, the Reds were shockingly leading the NL Central. That ended fast, but the Reds do look better now than they have in recent years. The club is hitting with authority, but still needs better pitching.
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Sort of like the Royals in the AL, the Pirates have fallen out of contention due to their own inability to score runs. The Buccos are on a sinking ship towards mediocrity.
- Colorado Rockies: After years of rebuilding, the Rockies are looking like a real threat this season. Their pitching is inexperienced, but it is keeping the Rockies in games and their hitting is top-notch.
- Arizona Diamondbacks: The D-Backs looked poised to strike last season, but injuries threw them off track. Now mostly healthy, Arizona is looking to reach the postseason for the first time since 2011.
- Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers have lain low so far this year. They have talent, but just need to do better against Colorado and Arizona. They’re still the best team in this division though.
- San Francisco Giants: A top-heavy lineup and rotation was compromised by injuries, sending the Giants into a spiral and giving other teams a chance to win the division. The Giants are always better in even-numbered-years, anyway.
- San Diego Padres: The only team truly out of the playoff race at this point, the Padres are in full tanking mode. After they tried to go bold in 2015, it has been a slow crawl back to the bottom of the division for the Friars since then.
|AL East Champs: New York Yankees||
NL East Champs: Washington Nationals
|AL Central Champs: Cleveland Indians||
NL Central Champs: Chicago Cubs
|AL West Champs: Houston Astros||
NL West Champs: Los Angeles Dodgers
|Wild Cards: Baltimore Orioles,
Wild Cards: St. Louis Cardinals,
AL Champs: Houston Astros
NL Champs: Los Angeles Dodgers
World Series Champs: Houston Astros