One thing I've long found a bit funny is hearing people with my job act like they have zero biases. You can be objective while still admitting, "Hey, I'm a Cubs fan." I am and I'm unapologetic about it. At least if you own it, you can avoid people trying to call you out for "East Coast bias." That is one of the most tiresome retorts I ever hear. It's lazy and it's completely unfounded.
As noted, I've long been upfront here. I'm a Cubs fan. As such, I know more about and follow the NL Central more than other divisions. I've also not made it a secret that I also enjoy the West Coast teams. The rationale there is simple. On a run-of-the-mill weeknight, there are generally 11 games starting 7 or 8 p.m. Eastern. Then at 10 p.m. Eastern, there are four games. Come 11:30 or so my time, those four West games are the only ones remaining. It's a lot easier to pay attention to four games than 11 or 15, you know? So I find myself getting to know the West teams a lot more than the East ones. It's only natural.
The problem, this season, is that the races in the West are going to be a snoozefest.
The Astros already have a 6 1/2-game lead -- despite the A's and -- and are pretty clearly head and shoulders better than every other team in the division. Maybe the A's make another strong run and it's possible that's already started, but they aren't going to hang with the Astros. Heading into Sunday, SportsLine had the Astros with a 99.4 percent chance of winning the AL West. That sounds about right. If anything, I'd bump it higher.
Saying that before we even hit June is a bit depressing as someone who loves watching the AL West. It's the reality, though. The Astros won the West by 21 games in 2017 and they probably don't get that high this year, but they will run away and hide.
It's also the reality on the NL side.
SportsLine had the Dodgers at a 97.5 percent chance to win the NL West and, again, it sounds either correct or not aggressive enough.
The Dodgers have a seven-game lead over the Padres. I love the Padres and will continue watching them in their pursuit for a wild card in what many thought was the year before the breakout. They're incredibly fun. They also aren't good enough to stay with the Dodgers. The Dodgers won the West in 2017 by 11 games and it'll be more than that this year.
How the West was won? We likely know before June. Sigh.
Also of note: Neither of these teams has the biggest lead. That would be the Twins, who are making a mockery of the AL Central and round out my top three. Three of the six races potentially being boat races? Thank God for the wild card.
|The Astros have won 17 of their last 22 and aren't even at full strength.||--||29-31|
|Corey Seager has struggled in his return from Tommy John surgery, but maybe the home run Sunday will jump-start him.||2||43-17|
|They never lose, but I can't bump anyone else!||2||36-24|
|Some of it is a testament to weak competition (like beating up on the Royals and Orioles this past week), but it's remarkable what the Yankees are doing. At their 50-game mark, it was their second-best record in the last 50 years. Seriously.||2||33-27|
|A bit of a rough patch here. I put them No. 1, touting their consistency in winning series and they've gone 6-7 since. Then again, rough patches being around .500 isn't too bad at all.||2||34-26|
|Good grief, Austin Meadows. After going 4 for 4 on Sunday, he's hitting .341/.420/.659.||--||40-20|
|Last week I mentioned how the Phillies had played one of the easiest schedules in the majors but had an upcoming tough slate. This week, they split four games against the Cubs and took two of three in Milwaukee. That'll play.||1||28-32|
|How many guesses would it have taken you to pick Rafael Devers as the team leader in stolen bases? He does! With seven. No, you didn't know that. Stop lying.||1||24-36|
|Jimmy Nelson was a great pitcher in 2017, getting some Cy Young votes. Late in the season, he slid into a base and injured his pitching shoulder. He then missed all of last season. He now has a 4.74 ERA in 19 innings in Triple-A. His rehab stint was ended and he was optioned to the minors officially. The situation is quite a shame.||2||29-31|
|Dansby Swanson has 10 home runs, which is a full-season pace of 30. That one snuck up on me.||1||35-25|
|They had lost six of seven heading into last week's rankings. This time around they've won five of six. It's bound to happen with a young-ish team and it's one of the reasons I said they can't keep up with the Dodgers in the intro.||4||37-23|
|Last week's comment mentioned that we've seen the A's turn it on in late May before and "don't sleep on them." They've now won nine in a row.||9||36-24|
|Elvis Andrus is having a career year at the plate. He must be doing it in honor of the great Adrian Beltre.||3||22-38|
|A week in contrast: Five straight losses followed by them utterly destroying and embarrassing the Giants.||2||25-35|
|The Cardinals went 18-7 in April and are now 7-16 in May. Yikes.||1||30-28|
|Trevor Bauer had a career 4.36 ERA heading into last season and then had a career year with a 2.21. This year? Back up almost to four at 3.99.||6||35-25|
|A 6-1 week after hitting rock bottom and they're back to .500.||8||26-34|
|Joey Votto just went 7 for 13 in three games in Wrigley Field. He's at the age (35) where it's reasonable to wonder if he's cooked when he's going bad, so that was encouraging to see. Only one extra-base hit and it was a double, though.||--||31-29|
|A winning week, which hasn't come often this season.||4||26-34|
|The Rays should call the Pirates and say they'll give them back Meadows and Tyler Glasnow for Chris Archer and then laugh hysterically.||7||19-41|
|It's rather depressing to lose Andrelton Simmons for so long in a season. He's such a joy to watch. Then again, the Angels are pretty constantly depressing. Poor Mike Trout.||4||26-34|
|Eloy Jimenez was a can't-miss rookie, but he's only hitting .217/.259/.406. Reminder that it's such a tough transition to The Show and to give him time.||--||35-25|
|They staved it off with a sweep, but that there was actually a chance the Marlins could pass the Nationals in the standings this weekend is quite an indictment.||1||26-34|
|What an embarrassing series against the Diamondbacks. The Giants were outscored roughly a billion to eight in front of their home fans. Those fans would be owed an apology if the Giants didn't win three World Series when they weren't the best team in baseball (sorry!).||5||29-31|
|The first team ever with two sons of Hall of Famers. That's fun. Everything else? Not so much.||1||32-28|
|This doesn't have an impact on the rankings (the Royals are terrible anyway), but here's an oddity I found fascinating. Due in part to weather, the Royals only played on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday last week. They were off more days than they played.||2||26-34|
|Since that stellar 13-2 start, the Mariners are 10-30, which is worse than the Orioles and Marlins.||7||27-33|
|Their seven-game losing streak was followed by a six-game winning streak and then the aforementioned three-game sweep at the hands of the Nats. Roller coasters are fun.||2||31-29|
|The Tigers have lost 10 of their last 11, but last year's number one overall pick, Casey Mize, is tearing Double-A to pieces on the mound. That matters more than the big-league team this season.||2||23-35|
|The Orioles' pitching staff coughed up its 100th home run in its 48th game, which is the fastest anyone has ever given up that many.||1||25-35|