We aren't yet that close to the halfway point in the 2013 season, but we've witnessed more than a third of the action. While by no means is there reason to believe things can't change, we've seen enough to start making some judgments as to which teams will contend and which will not.
This is normally where someone goes crazy and says something like: "You can't count anyone out on June 12!"
Damn right I can. At the very least, the Marlins and Astros are not going to make the playoffs. No chance in hell. I also believe the following teams will not contend: Mets, Brewers, Cubs, Mariners, Twins and White Sox. Please note that I am not counting those teams out. I'm only counting out the Astros and Marlins. I just think those six are showing us who they are and won't change.
On the flip side, I believe the following teams have shown they will contend at least into late August: Cardinals, Braves, Red Sox, Rangers, Reds, Yankees, Athletics, Orioles, Tigers, Diamondbacks, Rays, Giants and, yes, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Rockies, Royals, Indians and Padres can be grouped together as teams that could hang around for a bit but may fall behind due to the talent level of the entire roster.
That leaves the Nationals, Phillies, Angels, Dodgers and Blue Jays. I'll leave the Phillies aside because I don't see things changing much. They're gonna hover around .500 all year, just as I've said from the get-go.
The remaining four are our wild cards. We're talking about teams that entered the season with sky-high expectations and have thus far failed to meet them. Might one of these be the team that breaks through with a big run in the latter two-thirds of the season like last year's Tigers or A's?
I would bank on the Nationals. Injuries and underperformance have hampered them, and those are things that tend to even out over the course of 162 games. Plus, it's not like they've dug too deep a hole. They are only one game under .500.
The Blue Jays and Angels feel like they have bad roster mixes to this point, but obviously are talented enough to make a run. I'm not -- I repeat, I AM NOT -- saying they are buried, but I'm inclined to bet on them falling short of the playoffs by a decent spread due to varying circumstances.
As for the Dodgers, I feel like there's more here. Like if Yasiel Puig plays at a high level the rest of the way while Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford come back healthy and as productive as they're capable. And also if Don Mattingly never uses Brandon League as his closer again while Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu stay healthy. Considering all this, I believe the 7½-game deficit is workable.
So my pick for turning things around for the positive the rest of the way is the Nats, while my dark horse choice would be the boys wearing Dodger Blue.
To tie in with this theme, in the comments this week we're gonna go with one "staying on course" (what you've seen is what you'll get) and one "changing course" (change for better or worse is on the way) for each team. Just like the order of the rankings, they're subjective and you can feel free to call me all kinds of names instead of respectfully disagreeing. Because, you know, the Internet.
Please feel free to contact me with comments either on Twitter (@MattSnyder27) or via email: email@example.com. These were posted the morning of Wed., June 12. Any action coming after posting wasn't included here.