Hope I’m not stepping on any toes, RickJay, but breaking it up by division was gonna take forever, and the A.L. Central thread disappeared.
Divisional Leaders as of Wednesday, June 15:
East: Washington Nationals, 39-27, 3 game lead
Central: St. Louis Cardinals, 41-24, 6.5 game lead
West: San Diego Padres, 36-29, 2 game lead
The NL is kinda surprising so far. The Nationals are playing better baseball than the Expos did even before 1994, the Padres are looking like they’ve got Petco Park figured out and may be better than the NL pennant team from 1998, and the Cardinals… well, the Redbirds are the Redbirds.
The East is a lot tighter than it looks, with the Mets being in last place at only one game below .500, and every team looks like it’s about one piece away from being a contender. The Braves need a closer and for Chipper Jones to get healthy, the Nationals need a starter, the Phillies need a setup man for Billy Wagner, the Marlins just need to start winning again and the Mets are not nearly as broken down as usual.
The West is a weird division. You have to think that with Barry, the Giants would be leading. L.A. has been hurt by not having Gagne (who is back on the DL with the elbow), Colorado is a trainwreck, and Arizona’s rebuilding appears to be paying off. The Padres and D’Backs will be the frontrunners all season, but the Dodgers will mount a late run.
The Central is basically decided. The Cubs are good, don’t get me wrong, but I see no signs that they can keep Wood and Prior healthy through the long Chicago summer, not to mention that the Cub bullpen looks like the Indians circa Major League. The Brewers have been mediocre, Pittsburgh may finally be turning a corner (too bad McClendon won’t stick around to see it) and the Reds are a disaster of Biblical proportions. The Cards are a juggernaut, although the out-of-division record and Jeff Suppan’s W-L scare me.
Cards win the Central going 100-62. Walt Jocketty brings in yet another superstar at the deadline for a steal (see Rolen, Scott; McGwire, Mark; Walker, Larry; Clark, Will) who makes the team even better.
Padres, Dodgers and D’Backs go down to the last week before San Diego closes the deal by taking 2 of 3 from the Dodgers to end the season.
Nationals win the East by virtue of getting the Phils while Atlanta and Florida slug it out against each other in the last weekend, ending Atlanta’s run of 48,000 straight NL East titles.
*The wild card goes to those Braves, who run into the Cardinals in the NLDS AGAIN.