2011 MLB Midseason Report

Standard
Awards
AL MVP – 1B Adrian Gonzalez Boston Red Sox
NL MVP – SS Jose Reyes New York Mets
AL Cy Young – Jered Weaver Los Angeles Angels
NL Cy Young – Jair Jurrjens Atlanta Braves
AL Rookie of the Year – 1B Mark Trumbo Los Angeles Angels
NL Rookie of the Year – P Craig Kimbrel Atlanta Braves
AL Manager of the Year – Manny Acta Cleveland Indians
NL Manager of the Year – Clint Hurdle Pittsburgh Pirates
Report Cards
American League
Elite Class
Boston Red Sox 55-35
Thanks in large part to Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury the Red Sox are positioned for a return to the postseason. There might be some bumps in the road if starters Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz don’t return healthy.
New York Yankees 53-35
History was made with Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit.  Now the Yankees focus will be on getting past the Red Sox for a division title.  C.C. Sabathia should win 20 games for New York.  Also Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira are both in line to hit 40+ home runs.
Texas Rangers 51-41
They are still the defending American League champions and they are in a perfect position to repeat.  No one is paying attention to them.  Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz are healthy at the right time.  Their pitching has kept them afloat.  Now they just need to fend off the division rival Angels.
Contenders
Tampa Bay Rays 49-41
The odds are against them with the Red Sox and Yankees ahead in the division.  However, they aren’t one to back down from either one.  The Rays have one of the best 1-2 punches in their rotation with David Price and James Shields.  They still have some good young players they could bring up to help them contend for a postseason berth.
Detroit Tigers 49-43
Their easily the best team in the most winnable division in baseball.  Miguel Cabrera is having another MVP like season for them.  Justin Verlander is becoming one of the best pitchers in the game.  They might have to acquire some help for their bullpen and maybe another starting pitcher to help get them further ahead of Cleveland.
Cleveland Indians 47-42
They are the toast of baseball since Opening Day.  Manager Manny Acta has a lot to look forward to with some good prospects beginning to get called up.  If the Indians want to remain in contention and show their fans they mean it, they will have to be active in acquiring some help.  Mainly pitching.  Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore have to stay healthy for the lineups sake.
Los Angeles Angels 50-42
Mike Scioscia had his work cut out for him in May.  The offense was sluggish and the bullpen couldn’t keep a lead for his rotation. Calm, cool and collected the Angels have rallied to within one game of the Texas Rangers.  Thanks to a consistent effort from Jered Weaver and Dan Haren in the rotation and the hot bats of Vernon Wells and Mark Trumbo.
Outside Looking In
Toronto Blue Jays 45-47
Jose Bautista has become the lone bright spot north of the border. Starter Ricky Romero is a good pitcher who could become an ace very soon.  If they want to avoid the cellar they will need their young talent begin to blossom soon.
Chicago White Sox 44-48
Manager Ozzie Guillen has had his hands full all season.  Some of his best players have been slumping all year.  His bullpen has been in disarray.  The lone bright spot has been Paul Konerko’s resurgent offensive production.  Their only hope of the postseason is winning their division.
Minnesota Twins 41-48
Every year it seems the Twins disappoint and this is by far the most disappointing year for the Ron Gardenhire era.  The good news is that Joe Mauer is back playing.  Whether at first base or as the catcher is another story, but the important thing is that he’s healthy.  The one thing that will keep the Twins on the outside is their starting pitching.  The only bright spot was Francisco Liriano’s no-hitter.
Seattle Mariners 43-48
They’ve surprised a lot of folks including myself of their play. Ichiro is having his worst year since arriving in the majors in 2001. Yet Seattle is beginning to build on a foundation of pitching behind Felix Hernandez and rookie Michael Pineda.  Dustin Ackley is here to stay, but Seattle will need to work on the lineup a little bit longer.
Prepare for Spring Training 2012
Baltimore Orioles 36-52
The lone bright spot for the Orioles is that they have plenty of veteran pieces that they can trade for younger pieces since this season is out of reach for them.  Make no mistake they have some pieces to build on, but it was out of the question to think the Orioles were going to finish higher than 4th this season.
Kansas City Royals 37-54
It looked promising in April, but quickly fell apart at the seams. The pitching hasn’t been there for the Royals.  Even the normally automatic closer Joakim Soria is having a down year.  Alex Gordon is redeeming himself this year, but the Royals will have to wait until next year to take two steps forward.
Oakland Athletics 39-53
I don’t think Billy Beane was thinking he was going to have to make a managerial change in the middle of the season.  Bob Geren was losing the clubhouse and Beane was forced to act.  To make matters worse is the pitching staff has been a disappointment.  Yes injuries had a factor in the rotation chaos, but the bullpen was supposed to be better than advertised.  Also where’s the offense?
National League
Elite Class
Philadelphia Phillies 57-34
They’ve had no top notch closer and two pieces of their rotation have been hurt for most of the season.  Yet the Phillies have had the best record in baseball thanks mainly to Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Pretty scary when you think about it.  The potent offense hasn’t even warmed up.
Atlanta Braves 54-38
They are the real deal.  Thanks to Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson emerging as a legitimate 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation.  Along with Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe the Braves have a rotation that rivals the Phillies and Giants.  Rookie Craig Kimbrel has been stellar in relief and the lineup has been playing better than the Phillies all year long.
San Francisco Giants 52-40
Manager Bruce Bochy has been dealing with a lot of injuries this year.  None bigger than catcher Buster Posey.  The Giants are missing a big piece on offense.  Don’t be surprised if they make a move to bolster their lineup.  The pitching staff should be fine going forward.  Closer Brian Wilson will have to be better than his 3.14 ERA shows.
Contenders
Milwaukee Brewers 49-43
The bats are there in Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.  The pitching is there, but they haven’t had a full season with Zach Greinke.  Milwaukee is putting all their chips on the table for this season as they acquired Francisco Rodriguez from the Mets just after the All-Star game.  The bad news for them is they have 3 other teams in their division on their heels.
St. Louis Cardinals 49-43
The good news is that Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday are healthy to go along with the resurgent Lance Berkman.  The bad news is the pitching staff might not be able to hold off the other great offensive teams in the Central.  The Cardinals should be in the race until the bitter end, but can their bullpen save leads going into the 7th inning and beyond.
Pittsburgh Pirates 47-43
It should come as no surprise that manager Clint Hurdle has turned this ship around.  After all he managed the Colorado Rockies to their only World Series appearance in 2007.  But it is a surprise when the Pirates haven’t been above .500 this late in a season since 1992.  It would be amazing if they made the postseason, but finishing above .500 is a reasonable goal.  The young hitters and pitchers are motivated to start something new rather than dwell on the past.
Cincinnati Reds 45-47
The pitching staff has been struggling all year long.  The bullpen has been even worse.  There’s hope as the Reds aren’t too far out of it.  They still have Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto anchoring their lineup.  With that hitters paradise they play in they are always going to be in a game until the final out.
Arizona Diamondbacks 49-43
Credit goes to Kirk Gibson for the complete turnaround in that clubhouse.  All the youngsters have changed their attitudes and believe in what Gibson is teaching.  It will be tough to catch the Giants for the division title.  Losing closer J.J. Putz for an extended period will hurt, but they have a good chance to make some noise to finish out this year with Justin Upton becoming a legitimate power threat and clubhouse leader.
Outside Looking In
New York Mets 46-45
Luckily for the Mets the Dodgers are getting all the attention of a franchise having money problems.  The Mets have managed to stay competitive despite not having Johan Santana and David Wright for most of the year.  Jose Reyes is showing why he was considered one of the best shortstops in baseball when he arrived in 2003.  Now they don’t have a closer since dealing Francisco Rodriguez in what could start a flurry of activity in Queens.
Washington Nationals 46-46
Even though their former manager Jim Riggleman quit, the Nationals still remain competitive.  Their best hitter Ryan Zimmerman’s return only helps keep them around the .500 mark to finish the year.  The bullpen is becoming one of the best in baseball.  If they didn’t play in the same division as the Phillies and Braves they would be in a good position to get a playoff spot.
Colorado Rockies 43-48
A team with so much talent has struggled mightily.  They have made some great second half comebacks in the past.  It’s not out of the question that they do it again, but they have to hope some of their pitchers play up to their standards.  Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez will have to be even better for the Rockies to remain competitive.
Prepare for Spring Training 2012

Florida Marlins 43-48

Once ace Josh Johnson went down with a shoulder injury and Hanley Ramirez was out for almost a month, things couldn’t have gone any worse for the Marlins right?  Their former manager Edwin Rodriguez couldn’t take it anymore and walked out.  Enter 80 year old former Marlins manager Jack McKeon.  I love that he’s back in baseball, but this isn’t a recipe to win this year for the Marlins. Expect them to trade off what they can and look forward to the 2012 season.

Chicago Cubs 37-55

The only bright spot has been Starlin Castro.  His bat is keeping Cubs fans from leaving games earlier than usual this year.  Other than that the Cubs have had another outburst from Carlos Zambrano and it’s become eerie seeing empty seats at Wrigley during the summer.  It remains to be seen if there will be massive changes this offseason, but they have to prepare for that time now.

Houston Astros 30-62

Being the first team to lose 60 games usually means that you will probably end up with the 1st pick in next years draft.  With a new owner waiting to take over, it’s inevitable that there will be changes both in the front office and in the clubhouse.  It’s a lose-lose situation for any team.  Houston has a good baseball history and they will have to start getting ready for the new era.

Los Angeles Dodgers 41-51

It can’t get any worse for the Dodgers.  They’ve hit rock bottom as a franchise.  The only hope they have is that they can salvage what talent they have left.  Matt Kemp even on a down trodden team is a MVP candidate.  Clayton Kershaw could lead the majors in strikeouts.  It would help if the Dodgers had some idea of their future now and be free of the McCourts mismanagement.

San Diego Padres 40-52

They just couldn’t build on last years success.  Being just one game short of clinching the division has now left them looking to sell most of their assets.  The offense has become stagnant which is not surprising.  San Diego will look to get as much as they can for Heath Bell and a few other relievers.  Their only saving grace is that their not the worst run franchise in the division.

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