Before we get to contenders or pretenders, how many of you guys knew that the MLB All-Star game took place last night? I see one hand! Oh wait, that’s my hand…
The American League beat the National League to secure home field advantage in the 2016 World Series yet again. I won’t even dive into how odd it is that baseball decides home field by an exhibition game and not by regular season records.
Instead, because we are in a sports vacuum right now, we should take a close look at who the contenders are for the 2016 title and who the pretenders are. Then we walk around saying “Shame!” to all the fans of those pretender teams. I’m kidding, however, it is better to know that you are wasting your time is it not?
The division leaders are Baltimore, Cleveland, Texas, Washington, Chicago Cubs, and San Francisco. Those teams have worked hard to find themselves in this position at the break, but they need to be even better to close down the stretch. Teams like Houston, Detroit, Kansas City, Boston, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis and Pittsburgh are all waiting for the teams ahead of them to stumble and climb over them to the top.
— SBR Sports Picks (@SBRSportsPicks) July 13, 2016
I think the list of contenders needs to be broken down into each league. In the American League, I see the list a little less clear than the National League. Cleveland is a strong team but they have to deal with the never-die attitude of the Royals and the power of the Detroit Tigers. It is that reason why I would have to put Cleveland on a list of pretenders as of the all-star break and it is not because of talent but because of the road ahead. Baltimore is another team I would have to similarly put with Cleveland in the pool of pretenders because I see Boston’s youth and talent overtaking them in the second half. Not so fast though! On top of that, I have Toronto overtaking both Boston and Baltimore! I think the Blue Jays have an incredible offense that has the potential to surge better than both Boston and Baltimore. In Arlington, the Texas Rangers have to be looking at the DL list and wondering what in the world is happening to them. The Astros, after starting 17-28, finished a scorching 31-13 heading into the All-Star game and trail by only 5.5 games. I think the health and youth of the Astros might be enough to propel them past the Rangers for the AL West and a contender for the World Series. Of course, the Astros have starting pitching issues that continue to plague them here and there. In addition to that, the Astros offense can sometimes get bogged down as a home run or bust offense instead of being more diverse which they are capable of doing. I think the Astros and Rangers are both contenders for the World Series and it will just come down to health.
The National League to me is more simple, Cubs versus Giants. I think the even-year Giants are on a collision course with the heavy favorites in Chicago. The Giants have found a new level of offense and the off-season acquisition of Cueto has paid off as they head into the All-Star break with the best record in baseball. I think the Cubs still make it to the World Series but my list of contenders ends with these two teams in the National League.
That is where we stand heading into the second half of the MLB season and I cannot wait to see who holds on dearly and makes it through versus those who die off as pretenders.