LOS ANGELES, July 14, 2014 — The Major League Baseball All-Star break is here. Summer is in full swing and there looks to be an exciting second half on deck for baseball fans.
Here is a look at the division races to watch as summer unfolds and fall starts to creep in.
Oakland Athletics and Anaheim Angels – American League West
Oakland is sporting the best record in the majors, but Anaheim is only a game and a half behind them with the second best record in baseball. Oakland recently bolstered an already strong starting rotation by trading for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. The Angels and A’s rank one and two, respectively, in runs scored, but the A’s have a gigantic edge when it comes to starting pitching.
Prediction: A’s win AL West, Angels play Seattle in the Wild Card game.
Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants – National League West
The Dodgers looked dead in the water in early June when they were 9 ½ games behind the Giants. A combination of the Giants coming back to Earth and the Dodgers starting to perform up to their abilities allowed the Dodgers to enter the All-Star break with a one game lead. Josh Beckett was recently placed on the DL. Dan Haren is never very good in the second half and those struggles appear to have already started. Pitching will be an issue for Los Angeles should they choose to not trade for help. Pitching and offense are both problems for San Francisco, however.
Prediction: Los Angeles wins the West, San Francisco falls to third with Arizona finishing second and facing Cincinnati in the Wild Card game.
Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves – National League East
This has been a dogfight all year and is the battle baseball fans expected last year. Both teams have strong pitching. Atlanta needs to get more out of their offense if they want to win the East. With little competition from any of the other teams in the east, expect these two teams to be playing in October.
Prediction: Washington wins the NL East and the Braves take a wild card.
Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals – National League Central
Milwaukee has been very fortunate to receive the pitching they have. While some of their starters of already started to show their true colors, expect the ERAs of the rest to climb as the summer progresses. St. Louis will not need Michael Wacha or Yadier Molina to catch the Brewers, as the Brewers should give them plenty of opportunities, the Cardinals will, however, need them healthy if they expect to do anything in October.
Prediction: St. Louis wins the NL Central and the Brewers fall to third with Cincinnati moving up into the Wild Card game against Arizona.
Detroit Tigers – American League Central
Nothing else to see here. Move along.
Prediction: Detroit wins the AL Central.
Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays – American League East
Baltimore goes into the break with a four-game lead. Toronto is hanging around and could make a move if they start clicking. The race is still wide open, but does anybody care? Boston looks like they should have looked last year. The Yankees are slightly less irrelevant, but the loss of Tanaka should spoil any hopes of a summer surge for Yankee fans. Tampa bay is looking like a team that is more likely to be looking to make deal than any serious playoff run.
Projection: Either of these teams could realistically win the division. Slight advantage goes to Baltimore since they have a four-game head start. Winner takes the American League East, loser goes home. No wild cards will come from the AL East this year.
World Series Projection: Dodgers vs. Athletics in an all California World Series rematch from 1988.
Kevin J. Wells is the Sports Editor for Communities Digital News. He also writes about Major League Baseball, punk rock music and food. Kevin plays guitar in the Los Angeles punk band Emmer Effer. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball