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.

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