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Mid-Season Predictions [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
July 22nd, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Here we are at the middle of the 2009 MLB season and things could not be more different than I expected. Dark horse candidates lead wild cards, division standings are mostly in shambles, it’s just not what most anyone predicted.

Let’s take a look at the current standings:

AL East

Yankees
Red Sox 1GB
Rays 4.5GB
Blue Jays 10.5GB
Orioles 15GB

No doubt about it, the AL East has seen a return to past form with the rise of the Yankees after last year’s dismal (for them) results. At the season’s opening it seemed like the Blue Jays might make a run for it, but their strong start quickly eroded away putting them way far behind in the standings. It will be interesting to see who finishes last: Baltimore or Toronto.

The East remains a three-team race this year and the Rays have a lot of ground to make up. I’ll be revising my predictions as follows:

Red Sox
Rays
Yankees
Orioles
Blue Jays

I think the Rays can win the wild card with a strong second half and the Yankees will struggle late in the season to give Tampa Bay the go ahead. Baltimore’s strong youth combined with Toronto’s impending Roy Halladay trade will allow the Os to pull ahead of the Jays.

AL Central

Tigers
White Sox 2GB
Twins 2.5GB
Royals 13GB
Indians 13.5GB

It’s a real surprise to see Detroit go from last place last year to first place this year. I guess the bigger surprise was that they were last place last year despite a strong squad. It’s a strong three team race in this division too. You can count out the surprisingly terrible Indians and predictably bad Royals this year. Will Kansas City ever field a good team in the near future?

The division will wrap up:

Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Royals
Indians

Detroit is really looking to perform this season and I think they have a great chance thanks to superb young pitching. So long as the team keeps hitting, they should be fine, especially if they can make a move before the deadline for more starting pitching. I predict that Mauer will give the Twins the needed boost to stay above the Sox all year long, but, who knows, it might come to a playoff between the teams again, they’re relatively evenly matched.

AL West

Angels
Rangers 3GB
Mariners 5.5GB
Athletics 15GB

The AL West will be one of the most surprising and exciting divisions this year, I can just feel it. LA won’t be able to hold onto their lead and the Rangers are hungry for their first World Series appearance. Seattle has done quite well for itself this season thanks to the steady lead of Don Wakamatsu and, really, all it takes is a good streak to put them in a competitive spot in the west.

Rangers
Mariners
Angels
Athletics

It’s a bold prediction, but I’m going to forecast a late season collapse for the Angels that puts them a hair behind Seattle in the west. We all know Oakland is going nowhere.

NL East

Phillies
Braves 6.5GB
Marlins 7GB
Mets 10GB
Nationals 27GB

I could not be more surprised about the way a division is turning out. NL East was close coming out of the All-Star break, but a sweep of the Marlins by the Phillies blew this wide open. All the East can hope for is a Phillies slump, but with NL competition being what it is, this may not happen. The Mets place in all of this is rather surprising too, but not unbelievable since almost their entire roster is on the DL. They’re practically fielding a AAA team.

Phillies
Marlins
Braves
Mets
Nationals

New York won’t be able to recover from all of these injuries and the Braves won’t be able to pull ahead of the Fish. Philadelphia holds on to the top and Washington is just terrible.

NL Central

Cardinals
Cubs 2GB
Astros 2GB
Brewers 2GB
Reds 5.5GB
Pirates 8.5GB

Is there a closer division in baseball than the NL Central? Four teams within two games of first place has got to be some sort of record. The most surprising story in this division has to be the terrible play of the Cubs after their amazing 2008 season.

Cardinals
Cubs
Brewers
Astros
Reds
Pirates

Predicting this one is almost like flipping a coin. St. Louis has all the pieces they need to go the distance this year, barring injury. I think they have the best chance to do well considering Chicago’s lack of initiative this year.

NL West

Dodgers
Rockies 9.5GB
Giants 9GB
Diamondbacks 20GB
Padres 23GB

After the exciting NL Central, how do we arrive at this mess? The largest first place lead in baseball goes to LA (again) this year, but in the opposite league. The Dodgers are in a dangerous position with such lax competition and could find themselves floundering in the playoffs this year. I’m still amazed that both Colorado and the Giants are leading the wild card race this year. Colorado has been on a tear since changing skippers to Jim Tracy and the Giants seem to have found their niche with standout pitching by Lincecum and Cain. If only these teams found their stride earlier in the season, this division might have been interesting.

AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay
NL Wild Card: Giants

Controversial choices, I know, but I love both of these teams and I hope to see them succeed this year.


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