We're approaching the halfway point of the season and while many different aspects of the season are notable, the divide in the American League jumps right off the page. Only six of the 15 teams are above .500 and four are standing head-and-shoulders above the rest.
Given that it's only June 18, it's a ridiculous divide. Look at this:
The Indians also lead the lackluster AL Central, but no other team is even within a country mile of the second AL Wild Card. The pace is historic.
- The Yankees are on pace to win 111 games.
- The Red Sox are on pace to win 109 games.
- The Astros are on pace to win 107 games.
- The Mariners -- yes, the MARINERS! -- are on pace to win 104 games.
Get this: Never in MLB history has one league had three 100-win teams. The 2018 AL in on pace for four. Even if just one of these four teams falls back a bit, this league looks set to make history.
Also, it hasn't yet happened despite my having said it would for weeks, but the Indians are going to end up running away with the AL Central. SportsLine projects them to win the division by 12 games and that feels about right.
This all means that unless there's some serious regression somewhere (most people are turning their eyes toward the Pacific Northwest right now), the only race in the American League will be to avoid having to play in the Wild Card Game. Even if we include the Angles as contenders here, there are just six legitimate contenders -- again, assuming the Indians start playing like they can -- and nine non-contenders here in June.
This is what is driving the pace for history in terms of 100-win teams. If this continue on this path, it's also going to mean a great team being sent home after just one postseason game.
Imagine being in Seattle's shoes in this scenario: The 104-win Mariners have to travel across the country to face Chris Sale in Fenway Park in a win-or-go-home game after breaking the longest playoff drought in the majors. Then, if they do win (by one run, right?), they get to head to the Bronx having already burnt James Paxton.
A cruel twist of fate, no?
Welcome to the 2018 American League, truly the league of big-time haves and disproportionate have-nots.
|The year is 2015. Someone tells you that in 2018, the Astros would be an elite team and that Dallas Keuchel was their worst starting pitcher. Your reaction?||1||64-42|
|The all-time record for home runs in a season belongs to the 1997 Mariners with 264. These Yankees are on pace for 268.||1||56-48|
|Is David Price back? In his last seven starts, he's 6-0 with a 2.64 ERA and is striking out more than a batter per inning.||--||63-44|
|They went 5-2 last week against the Angels and Red Sox and there are still legions of naysayers.||1||56-50|
|They just lost two of three to the Brewers, so why are they ahead? Well ... fewer losses, better run differential by a mile and an 8-3 head-to-head record.||1||51-56|
|Winning that series over the Cubs after the Monday night gut-punch had to have felt glorious for the Brewers and, probably mostly, their fans.||2||63-43|
|Picked up off the scrap heap in March, Anibal Sanchez now has a 1.93 ERA in 37 1/3 innings.||5||52-54|
|Matt Kemp was being passed around as one of the least desirable players in the league due to multiple factors. Now he's hitting .338 with a .579 slugging and might be an All-Star. What a great story.||2||64-43|
|Grabbing Jon Jay on the cheap is going to end up being one of the more nifty and under-the-radar moves this season. Good job, Mike Hazen and company.||2||33-73|
|Daniel Murphy being back is good, but he doesn't look good at all. In fact, he looks terrible. Small sample, though, so maybe he'll get it going.||4||49-56|
|The Carlos Carrasco injury stings, but they've thrived without him before.||4||52-51|
|The Angels are tied for the major-league lead with 15 blown saves.||3||52-53|
|Rhys Hoskins is heating up. In eight July games, he's hitting .333/.400/.800 with two doubles, four homers and 11 RBI.||2||52-53|
|Miles Mikolas is All-Star bound, isn't he? Crazy!||1||53-52|
|The rebuilding Tigers are only 2 1/2 games out of first. Crazy, right?||5||51-57|
|There aren't many relievers on the planet having a better 2018 than Blake Treinen.||--||60-47|
|Good to see Brandon Belt back and hitting well. He's having some kind of individual season.||3||66-39|
|Their big expenditures in free agency were to the bullpen with Wade Davis (4.55 ERA), Bryan Shaw (7.08) and Jake McGee (4.81). Not great, Bob!||1||46-60|
|Probably not a great sign when you're more worried about retaliating for an accidental HBP than winning games.||1||40-65|
|I've thought for almost all of Joe Mauer's career he should be hitting leadoff and old-school minds would yell at me about "speed" or "stolen bases." He's finally settled in at the top. Thank you, Paul Molitor.||1||44-62|
|Look, we know they aren't going anywhere this year, but it's fun to see them hang relatively close. In fact, they are closer to a playoff spot than the Angels. Crazy, right?||2||61-47|
|Wilson Ramos is such a good player, meaning it's only a matter of time before they trade him.||1||64-42|
|They could really use a hot several weeks from Josh Donaldson (if he ever comes back) before the trade deadline.||1||54-49|
|The Marlins have won eight of their last 13.||3||44-61|
|Two wins in a row. That's good! (If we ignore the seven straight losses before that).||--||38-67|
|In his last 10 starts, Jacob deGrom has allowed more than one earned run once (it was two earned runs, too) and the Mets are still 2-8 in those 10 starts. Pathetic team support for the MLB ERA leader at 1.55.||2||55-49|
|They should deal Jose Abreu, right?||1||62-44|
|I love Joey Votto, so I don't want to say anything bad about him. It's just ... I loved him more when he had home run power.||--||56-50|
|Since June 2, the Royals are 1-12.||--||45-59|
|Since May 25, the Orioles are 3-16.||--||37-67|