Ah, Spring. When a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of… Baseball!!!
If you’re a casual fan like me, the first week or so of Baseball Season is filled with brightness, optimism, and hope. April is the month where every team can dream a a shot at winning their division. Given that there are 162 games in a season, the first few weeks are simply too small a sample size to really help determine who is going to be in first place come the end of the year. A team can jump out of the gate on a tear, or can still be working out leftover problems from Spring Training.
Admittedly, some teams have better chances than others. But one can still dream.
This is also the time of year when both experts and fans make their guesses as to how the standings will look come the end of the season. Each division typically has one Favorite, one Contender, two Also-Rans, and one Basement Dweller. The difference between a Favorite and a Contender is usually a matter of luck. The Also-Rans are too close together to pick which one finishes above the other. Here’s how I think things will shake out.
Keep in mind that I haven’t been paying that much attention to the news from Spring Training. Casual fan, remember?
FAVORITE: Washington Nationals – healthy, young, and talented.
CONTENDER: Atlanta Braves – Major injuries to some of their pitchers have seriously hurt their chances.
ALSO-RANS: New York Mets (still one or two stars away from contending, as usual) and Philadelphia Phillies (aging badly, with no prospects on the horizon).
BASEMENT DWELLER: Miami Marlins
FAVORITE: St Louis Cardinals – The organization can’t seem to ever do anything wrong.
CONTENDER: Pittsburgh Pirates – Last season might just be the start of something big.
ALSO-RANS: Cincinatti Reds (just can’t keep the pace) and Milwaukee Brewers (not enough talent to carry them over the long haul).
BASEMENT DWELLER: Chicago Cubs – who else?
FAVORITE: Los Angeles Dodgers – Possibly the best team in baseball.
CONTENDER: San Francisco Giants – If things go right for them, and wrong for the Dodgers…
ALSO-RANS: Arizona Diamondbacks (good hitting, no pitching) and San Diego Padres (nothing to speak of).
BASEMENT DWELLER: Colorado Rockies
FAVORITE: Boston Red Sox – Returning champions haven’t significantly lost anything.
CONTENDER: Tampa Bay Rays – They’ll keep it close all the way.
ALSO-RANS: New York Yankees (new acquisitions can’t patch all their problems) and Baltimore Orioles (good, but not good enough in this division).
BASEMENT DWELLER: Toronto Blue Jays – Just can’t seem to ever get it together.
FAVORITE: Detroit Tigers – Three of the biggest stars in the game are more than enough in this division.
CONTENDER: Kansas City Royals – A young team coming of age.
ALSO-RANS: Cleveland Indians (the luck won’t carry over from last year) and Chicago White Sox (Chris Sale can’t do it all himself).
BASEMENT DWELLER: Minnesota Twins
FAVORITE: Texas Rangers – By a nose.
CONTENDER: Oakland Athletics – Only because I can’t pick two favorites.
ALSO-RANS: Seattle Mariners (they made some key acquisitions, and just might surprise everyone) and LA Angels (if Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols live up to their reputations, they could turn into a Contender).
BASEMENT DWELLER: Houston Astros
Of course, come May, every one of these will be subject to change….