Friday, July 22, 2011

Around the League in 81 Games: AL Edition

Now that we have the Senior Circuit completed, let's take a look at what is going on in the AL.

Most Home Wins: Tampa Bay Rays - My Rays made me proud in the first half with a home record of 30-13. We will need as many home wins as possible when visiting the likes of Texas, Kansas City, and San Juan late in the season.

Road Warriors: Seattle Mariners - With a road record of 31-12, the Mariners have found themselves in first place in the AL West. A current 11 game lead over second place Anaheim will only grow larger if they keep this road dominance up. Not to go unnoticed/unmentioned is Seattle's uber impressive 22 game winning streak earlier in the season. That is the second longest winning streak I've seen in HBD. Hats off to willsauve and the Mariners for that accomplishment.

MVP Candidates: Ezdra Ayala is the winner right now. Hitting .384 with an OPS of 1.187 is ridiculous. There are a ton of guys on his heels though, with 9 players hitting .340 or better, 10 with 25 home runs or more, and 8 with 75 RBI or more. It will take a few 0-fer days for Ayala to come down to the rest of the pack though.

Cy Young Candidates: I see this one as a two man race right now, with a few sleepers. Kelvin Mills and Stubby Swann have had excellent seasons so far, helping their respective teams to the division lead. Xavier Russell and Dwight Cameron are two guys that have impressive seasons going for them and I'd really like to see them duplicate their success in the second half. Of course, there are several other guys out there that, with a strong second half, can shoot right back into the race.

Rookie of the Year: Not a ton in the way of impressive rookie pitchers at this point in the season, so maybe with some second half seasoning they can improve their numbers. Tim Murray leads all qualified rookies in hitting, with Courtney Russell, Vinny Lee, and Socks Butler nipping at his heels. Dustin Malone is a nice power prospect, but I'd really like to see that average come up a bit.

Overall, the playoff race looks to be six teams within 11 games of each other for the two wild card spots, with Toronto, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, and Seattle leading their divisions. Look for Kansas City, Texas, and Anaheim to make strong second half strides to get into the playoffs. Don't count out San Juan, Colorado, or the Yankees as any team can get hot, shown by San Juan's recent 6 game winning streak.

Around the League in 81 Games: NL Edition

Now that we are at the halfway point of the season, let's take a look around the league and see who is doing what, starting with the National League.

Most Home Wins: Philadelphia Phillies - Estrada's club came out of the gates quick and the NL North seemed like it was a one horse race. With an impressive 18-0 start at home the Phillies finished the first half with 34 home wins. That is more than some teams have total wins on the season so far!

Road Warriors: Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, and Houston Astros are all about even when it comes to the road record. No big surprise that Pittsburgh and San Diego currently lead their divisions and Houston is tied for the lead in their division.

MVP Candidates: Right now, I'd say my vote would go to the $100 million man: Reid Gold, but there are a slew of worthy candidates such as J.R. Baines, Jack Meadows, Raul Cortes, Pat Jefferson, and Chet Lieber, in no particular order. There are many players right on the fringe and have a lot of time to make up some ground with strong second half performances.

Cy Young Candidates: In my opinion, this award could go to any of these three guys,Henry Barmes, Allan Henderson, and Kenneth Johnson. They are so close, that it is hard to pick one. In the end, I would probably go with Johnson and his five complete games and four shutouts. Of course, there are about 7-10 more candidates that could put up strong bids in the second half as well.

Rookie of the Year: This one is a bit more difficult to choose from. Bruce Stephenson doesn't qualify for the pitching category yet, but is having a strong season at 8-1, with a 2.90 ERA. Luis Moreno, Daric Butler, Trevor Lockhart, and Roosevelt Haynes are all having solid years. Haynes and Lockhart are your typical speedsters, so don't discount their lack of power as not being worthy for the ROY!

The playoff race could get pretty exciting in the NL East and NL South, as Washington is in last and only 7 games out in the East and the South has a tie atop the leader board while St. Louis is only trailing the Astros and Braves by 4 games.

Who are your ultimate winners and losers in these races?