Comes time to do my annual column on MLB at the Fourth of July break, which for the most part is the halfway point of the Major League Baseball season.
The column is a brief recap of what has happened thus far during the season and a guess at what may happen the rest of the way.
I'll start with the American League where Baltimore, Detroit and Oakland lead their respective divisions and the Angels and Seattle would be the wild card teams if the season ended today.
The Orioles have had a big season from Nelson Cruz and others to gain a lead in the AL East Division over Toronto and the Yankees. Tampa Bay and Boston have had sub par seasons to date. I think that will change and be the difference in the rest of the season for this division. Look for the Yankees to take the most advantage of the Red Sox and Rays’ resurgence to go on and take the division.
Detroit is a shoo-in in the AL Central despite floundering some of late. With Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello the Tigers have too much pitching and too much hitting with Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez to stay in any kind of funk.
Kansas City made a mild run at the Tigers before falling back. They will fall back even more as the summer goes along, as will the White Sox, Indians and Twins in the division.
Oakland, with the best team in baseball, insured their way to a West Division title when they picked up Jeff Samardzija last week to make an already solid pitching staff more solid.
The Angles with the murderous row of Mike Trout, Albert Pujos and Josh Hamilton will stay on the Athletics’ tail but will slip further back as the summer goes on.
The Mariners have been a big surprise this year but Felix Hernandez can only pitch every fourth or fifth game so look for the team from the Northwest to fade. Texas and Houston have already faded.
I figure the Yankees, Detroit and Oakland to finish the season as division winners with the Angels and Orioles making the wild card. Right now it looks like the addition of Samardzila will help Oakland win the American League play-offs and head to the World Series.
Let's see who I think they will meet.
Right now the National League play-off teams would be Atlanta, Washington, Milwaukee, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The Braves and Nationals will hold their spots in the NL East because they have much better teams than division rivals Miami, Philadelphia and New York.
Milwaukee will have the most trouble holding on to their play-off spot because Pittsburgh, Saint Louis and the Reds are capable of going on winning runs. I think the Brewers closable stadium will make the difference in the chase and they will hold their place in the NL Central.
The Dodgers and Giants will hold their places in the NL West because there is way too much pitching for division foes San Diego, Colorado or Arizona to even think about making a run.
All of that makes me feel the National League play-off teams will be Atlanta, Washington, Milwaukee, Los Angeles and Frisco, the same as it would be if the season ended today.
Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw give the Dodgers the in to win the NL Play-offs and meet the A's in a west coast series. Oakland, with that added pitcher, will win the thing.