At the “Midway point” of the Major League Baseball season, let’s check in with our preseason predictions and other updates
If you came for the pictures, you might as well stop reading now.
Welcome back! It’s been a few months since I’ve written anything. It’s been a busy few months. I can’t promise I’ll be back as frequently as I was in the beginning stages of MSP, but now seemed like a good time to update the fans (you all) on the baseball season. But, of course, good baseball fans (like you all) have been paying attention all along, haven’t you?
Before we jump in, we did miss a few things. The NBA Championship was won by the Toronto Raptors, their first in franchise history. The Raptors came into existence in 1995, and this year was the first time they had even been to the NBA Finals. They beat the defending champion Golden State Warriors, and Kawhi Leonard was named Finals MVP. This never would have happened during a Barack Obama presidency…but I digress (/s for those of you who get it). Leonard bolted this past weekend for Los Angeles, but not to join LeBron and Anthony Davis. He signed with the Clippers, and they traded a massive amount of first round picks (5 – a record!) to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Paul George. Also, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signed with the Brooklyn Nets, DeAngelo
Vickers Russell was traded to Golden State, and the NBA is still paying insane amounts of money to mediocre players.
The hockey playoffs were far more exciting in my humble opinion. I look forward to the Stanley Cup Playoffs every spring, and this year’s did not disappoint (though my predictions certainly did…yikes). While I was ultimately less than pleased with the teams that made the Final (the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues), the Blues raised their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, and it was cool to see that fan base and some of those players (Ryan O’Reilly and Jay Bouwmeester, specifically) raise the Stanley Cup. Also, if you watched live, NBC did not do a very good job of uh…censoring the players. Live mics + Stanley Cup-winning players = a lot of F-bombs on national television.
The Virginia Cavaliers won their first National Championship in April, and in case you missed it, I CALLED IT HERE. I don’t need to say much more. I’ll quit while I’m ahead.
Let’s get to baseball.
These won’t be as long or as detailed as the preview posts. I’m mostly doing this to massage my ego where my predictions look good, and I’ll quickly skirt over the divisions that aren’t going my way. When you’re the Editor-In-Chief and a contributor on your own site, you can do whatever you want.
I’ll link to each division preview in case you want to check my math and hold me accountable. Each team has played between 85 and 94 games so far, so we’re just over the halfway point with a 162-game season.
AL West: Not bad
The Astros currently lead the AL West, which I (and every other MLB writer) predicted they would win. At 57-33, they’re currently on pace for 102.5 wins (I had them at 102). The Oakland Athletics (50-41, projected for 89 wins) are in second. I had them in second in the division and winning 93 games.
The Texas Rangers are actually in third place right now, six games above .500 (48-42). I predicted them to finish last and only win 62 games; instead, they are on pace for a cool 86 wins. The Angels are in 4th, where I had them (currently 45-46, projected 80-82) finishing the year at 76-86. Rounding out the West is the Seattle Mariners. I thought they’d win 79 games this year, but they’re sitting at 39-55 and only on pace for 67 wins.
AL Central: Spot On
I won’t lie. I feel good about this one.
Most of the pieces I saw leading up to the season had the Cleveland Indians repeating as division champions. But not Midwest Sports Pulse. Oh no.
I picked the Minnesota Twins to win the division, and they have been on fire. The Twinkies are 5.5 games up on Cleveland at the All-Star Break with a 56-33 record. At that pace, they’re projected to win just under 102 games (but we can round up). I only predicted them to win the division at 88-74, so they are way ahead of my pace.
The Indians (50-38, projected 92-70) are in second place as I mentioned, and I thought they’d drop off this year to 85 wins. The Chicago White Sox are in third at 42-44 (79-83 pace, I had them at 80-82). Kansas City sits in a distant fourth place (30-61 right now, projects to be just a 53 win season…yikes). Turns out I gave them too much credit (64-98 was my prediction). Rounding out the Central is the Detroit Tigers at 28-57. Based on the number of games played, Kansas City is actually further back from the Twins (27 games) than Detroit is (26 games back), but the Tigers are in last due to winning percentage (.329 to KC’s .330). I thought Detroit would win 61 games and eclipse 100 losses, but again, I gave them too much credit. Of course, anything could happen, but their current record would put them in a tie with the Royals at 53-109 at season’s end.
AL East: Not bad
The New York Yankees/Evil Empire lead the East at the All-Star Break with a 57-31 record, which is best in the American League. If they keep up this pace, they’ll finish with 105 wins, which is four above what I had them pinned at in the preseason.
I had Boston finishing in second place, but due to an abysmal start to the season, they aren’t there. Instead, Tampa Bay is in second (I had them in third at 87 wins) with a 52-39 record. That puts them on pace to win 92.5 games this season. You can round up or down, your choice.
Boston, despite the terrible start, is in third. At 49-41, it could be much worse for the Sox. Instead of the 95 games I had them winning, they’re currently on pace for 88, but that could change.
At the bottom of the division are the two teams I expected to be there: Toronto and Baltimore. The Blue Jays have been entertaining to watch thanks to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (who is crushing the Home Run Derby as I write this). I thought they’d win 76 games this year – they’re on pace for only 60 wins (34-57). And last, and certainly least, are the Orioles. I predicted them to go 58-104 by season’s end. Sitting at 27-62 currently, they’re only projected out to win 49 games this season. Brutal.
NL West: Not Great
This is probably my least favorite division in baseball, if I’m being honest. I don’t like the team in first. The Los Angeles Dodgers are running away with the West with 60 wins to only 32 losses. They have the best record in baseball. I had them at 95 wins; instead, they’re on pace for 105 or 106 wins. That’s really all I want to say about them.
In second place is a surprise: the Arizona Diamondbacks. I thought they’d finish dead last (65-97). At one game over .500 (46-45), they’ve been a pleasant surprise this year. Granted, that only puts them at an 82-80 pace, well behind the Dodgers, but good for AZ.
Third place currently is the San Diego Padres. I had them finishing in third at 79-83, and they’re projected to finish 81-81 (currently at 45-45). In fourth place, the Colorado Rockies have struggled. I thought they’d continue as a solid baseball team (90-72), and instead, they’re a game under .500 at (44-45). I think the Rockies will still get hot and make the playoffs instead of finishing .500, but they are definitely missing DJ LeMahieu this season (he’s in New York, on the American League side, crushing baseballs).
Last is the San Francisco Giants. Again, I’m not mad about this one. At their current record (41-48), I didn’t give them quite enough credit (my prediction was 70-92), as they are on pace for 74 wins, but nothing says they can’t go on a nice 14-game losing streak at some point. On the flip side, they could go on an equally as long winning streak. Baseball’s a funny game.
NL Central: Wrong, but not mad
The NL Central is pretty jumbled up from my preseason predictions, but it’s also the most competitive in baseball (I will give myself credit here, as I did say “toughest” division in baseball in the preview).
The Cubs (smiley face) are currently leading the division, but only by a half game. I thought they’d finish in second place with 91 wins. Chicago currently sits at 47-43, which would give them just 84.5 wins at the end of the season. But, as it stands, that’s good enough for first.
The Brewers (47-44, projected 83.5 wins) are in second (I had them in third). It appears I gave the top three teams in this division too much credit, as I had the Brewers finishing third with 88 wins. Right now, that would win the division by three or four games (depending on how you rounded the Cubs total). Christian Yelich has been unreal again, and he might best the non-steroid single-season home run record (Maris, 61).
The Cardinals have been a disappointment to Cardinals fans, and to nobody else. Jokes aside, at .500 (44-44), they are well below the 94-win prediction I thought they’d hit. And while a lot of the preview piece focused on how good the Paul Goldschmidt addition would be…well, he’s not been great. Goldy has struggled this season, and I think that’s a big reason why the Cards are in third place.
The bottom two teams are switched from my preview: Pittsburgh is in 4th at 44-45 (an 80 to 81 win pace; I only gave them 74), and Cincinnati is in last at 41-46 (I had them at 80-82; they’re on pace for a 76 win season). The Pirates have been led by MVP-candidate Josh Bell. If he stays healthy, I don’t see why they can’t compete.
While none of these teams have a particularly impressive record, every team is within 4.5 games of the Cubs. While that’s scary as a Cubs fan, it’s fun as a baseball fan. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.
NL East: Pretty meh
It could be worse.
The Atlanta Braves lead the division with a solid 54-37 record. I thought they’d be the runners-up this year with 88 wins; instead, projected out, the Braves win 96 games. That’s ahead of both the pace and prediction of my NL East champion, the Washington Nationals. They currently lead the Wild Card race at 47-42, and that gives them an 85.5 win pace (I had them at 90).
The Phillies are in third, competing and holding the second Wild Card spot with a 47-43 record (same as the Cubs). That puts them on an 84 or 85 win pace, which is right around where I had them (83).
The Mets hold the fourth spot, which is one behind where I thought they would finish this year with 86 victories. New York is 40-50 (72-90 projection), but they do now have the reigning Home Run Derby champion (congrats to Pete Alonso!). Last, and least, the Miami Marlins are in a familiar and expected position. I had no faith in the Marlins, but they are ahead of the prediction I had for them. I thought they’d only win 53 games; instead, they might get to 60 if everything plays out as is. Good job, you aren’t the worst!
And that’s about as much as I want to write about baseball for now. I’m fairly happy with how my predictions look, but another 70+ games could change things drastically. I might look back at this piece in September or October and laugh like I did at my Duke piece (not linking that one; you can find it). Or, everything might shake out EXACTLY how I thought.
Don’t bet on that outcome, though. I’m no James Holzhauer.