With the MLB All-Star game wrapping up, let’s look at how the first half of the season went before previewing the rest of the season and the playoffs.
The Tampa Bay Rays went out of the gate swinging as they started this season 13-0 and have the top record in the American League at 57-34. However, they recently have lost six games in a row, including a sweep to the Phillies and losses to the Mariners and Braves. The Rays lead a tough AL East division in which all five teams sit above .500. The Baltimore Orioles have had a strong start as well and sit in second place with a 52-35 record, with the Toronto Blue Jays a few games back at 49-41, the New York Yankees at 48-41, and even the last place Boston Red Sox sit at 46-43.
Photo Cred: GQ
The AL Central has performed much worse, as the first-place Minnesota Twins have a worse record than the last-place Red Sox at 45-44. The Cleveland Guardians are right behind at 44-44, with the rest of the division having a record under .500. The Detroit Tigers are battling the Chicago White Sox for third, with 38-49 and 38-52 records, while the Kansas City Royals have been one of the worst teams in baseball with a miserable 25-64 record.
In the AL West, the Texas Rangers have surprised viewers by leading the defending champions Houston Astros in their division. The Astros got off to a slow start but have rebounded to a 49-40 record, three games back of the Rangers’ 52-37 mark. The Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels look to make wild card pushes with 44-43 and 45-45 records. Meanwhile, the Oakland Athletics, who are heading to Las Vegas to the dismay of their fans, have the worst record in baseball, half a game behind the Royals with just 25 wins and 65 losses.
Over in the National League, the Atlanta Braves have baseball’s best record at 59-28 and are comfortably ahead of the rest of the NL East. The Miami Marlins are starting to stumble but currently hold a 51-39 record as they battle the Philadelphia Phillies in a series, who are 48-39 and coming off a sweep of the AL-leading Rays. Meanwhile, the New York Mets, who have looked atrocious at times this season, have recently gotten things turned around, sweeping the Diamondbacks, and carrying a 6-game win streak into a 42-46 record. The Washington Nationals round out the division with a 34-54 record as they continue to rebuild.
Photo Cred: USA Today
In the NL Central, the Cincinnati Reds are in a battle with the Milwaukee Brewers at the top of the division, as the Reds rode a 12-game win streak to sit at 49-40, with the Brewers on their heels at 48-41. The Reds and Brewers are in a series to make matters more interesting. The Chicago Cubs, who just had their first-ever win at Yankee Stadium, are sitting at 41-46, slightly ahead of the once hot-starting Pittsburgh Pirates at 40-48, while the St. Louis Cardinals are in the cellar at 36-52.
One of the biggest surprises is the Arizona Diamondbacks performing so well in the NL West. With a 51-38 record, they sit a half-game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers, perennial division leaders and World Series contenders. The San Francisco Giants are close behind at 47-41, while the San Diego Padres have fallen off from an NLCS appearance last season and currently sit at 41-47. Finally, the Colorado Rockies have the worst record in the National League at just 34-55.
I expect most division leaders to retain first-place spots, but some will fall off their strong pace and open the door for teams trailing them. The Rays will recover from their recent slump and should still win the AL East, clinching the top seed in the American League. The Astros will eventually overtake their in-state rivals and win the AL West, sending the Rangers to the first wild card spot. Meanwhile, I expect the Guardians to surpass the Twins and win the AL Central, although they won’t make a deep playoff run as a .500 team going against much higher records. Aaron Judge’s eventual return will spark the Yankees to the second wild-card spot, while the Orioles will do well enough to secure the final wild card and a playoff spot in the AL.
Photo Cred: MLB
In the National League, the Braves will continue their sizzling pace, joining the Rays as the only two teams to finish with more than 110 wins and seizing the top overall record in the MLB. I expect the Dodgers to catch the Diamondbacks and take their usual spot atop the NL West. And I believe the Reds will win the battle against the Brewers and ride Elly De La Cruz’s stellar play to the top of the NL Central. The D-Backs will still make the playoffs as the first wild card, the Phillies will attempt to make another deep run with the second wild-card spot, the Marlins will fall out of a playoff spot, and the Brewers will hold off the Giants and Mets for the final wild-card spot in the NL.
Photo Cred: MLB
Once all is said and done, I think the Braves and the Rays will meet in the World Series, and there will be no surprise playoff runs like we saw last year with the Phillies and other playoff upsets, especially in the National League. I have the Braves winning in six games and raising their fifth World Series after recently winning over the Astros in 2021.