MLB Standings After the First Month of the Season

It’s been exactly one month since the 2015 Major League Baseball season began on Opening Night in Chicago, and it’s been a memorable season thus far.

We’ve seen unbelievable starts to year by both teams and individual players, great plays ­­all over the diamond, and some surprise teams leading divisions at this point. It’s been a great season so far, and is surely going to continue throughout the dog days of summer that are on the horizon.

Here are the updated standings in all six divisions, as well as the Review and Outlook for the teams.

AL East

Standings:

  1. New York Yankees (16-10)
  2. Tampa Bay Rays     (14-12, 2 GB)
  3. Baltimore Orioles   (12-11, 2.5 GB)
  4. Toronto Blue Jays (13-14, 3.5 GB)
  5. Boston Red Sox       (12-12, 4 GB)

Review:

The AL East has been the most competitive division in baseball. The Yankees hold the smallest division lead over the last place team in the Majors, and the East is the only division with all five teams having at least 12 wins.

New York has gotten out to a good start on the season, however, has relied heavily on its bullpen. Those innings on the arms will add up quickly, especially since CC Sabathia has started the season 0-4 and Masahiro Tanaka has once again landed on the 15-day DL.

No team has delt with more distractions than the Baltimore Orioles, who were forced to postpone two games, play another in an empty Camden Yards, and move an entire home series on the road, due to rioting in the city. The O’s were in the bottom of the division just a few days ago, but have climbed their way to third place, due in large part to Adam Jones’ great start to the season.

The Baltimore centerfielder has a .402 BA, which leads all AL batters.

Toronto, I believe, is already starting to see that not re-signing Melky Cabrera in the off season has hurt the team offensively. Add in Jose Reyes being sidelined with an injury, and the Blue Jays find themselves in last place.

Outlook:

I don’t see the Yankees staying on top of the division much longer. They’ve already put a lot of innings on the bullpen, and to continue at this pace throughout the remainder of the season would likely spell disaster come playoffs. I think once Alex Rodriguez passes Willie Mays on the all-time Home Runs list, you could really see his production (and effort) go way down.

Baltimore will be getting some important players back over the next month or so as J.J. Hardy has begun his rehab assignment, Jonathan Schoop is set to begin his rehab process sometime next week, and Matt Wieters is catching every other day in extended Spring Training. Once this team gets fully healthy, Buck Showalter’s team should certainly be fighting for the division crown.

Boston has lost 10 of its last 15 games, partially due to lack of effective pitching. Offensively, though, this team is one of the highest scoring teams in the league. The Red Sox will definitely be in the running for trading to get Cole Hamels. If Hamels does head to Boston, this team could win the AL East.

I don’t see Tampa Bay staying out of the basement of the division for long, nor do I see Toronto getting higher than 3rd place in the East for an extended period of time.

AL Central

Standings:

  1. Detroit Tigers           (17-9)
  2. Kansas City Royals (16-9, 0.5 GB)
  3. Minnesota Twins     (14-12, 3 GB)
  4. Cleveland Indians   (9-15, 7 GB)
  5. Chicago White Sox   (8-14, 7 GB)

Review:

Detroit started the season 6-0 for the first time in 30 years, and haven’t cooled off since. The Tigers have been getting productive pitching out of David Price and Shane Green, and Miguel Cabrera is having another fantastic start to his year.

The Chicago White Sox have been disappointing thus far due to lack of production out of Adam LaRoche and Jose Abreu, and the Royals have also been upsetting to me (and all the teams in the MLB.)

Kansas City was involved in numerous fights through the month of April and had multiple players fined and/or suspended for their actions. However, I must admit, the Kansas City Royals have been involved in better fights than Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.

KC: You’ve been to one World Series in the last 30 years, you don’t own the league. So stop acting like you do.

Outlook:

The Tigers are for real. Detroit has been getting contributions out of every part of the lineup, a lineup that can makeup for the pitching rotation if it begins to falter slightly.

Hopefully Kansas City has learned its lesson and will stop the excessive fighting. A team getting in a brawl every once in a while is nice, because it shows the players care about one another, but fighting to the point that opposing players are wearing boxing gloves during games is annoying.

I don’t expect the Twins to play above .500 baseball for the rest of the season. They don’t have the talent to be a contender.

I also don’t expect the White Sox or Indians to play this badly all year. Both teams do have the talent to bring their clubs out from the bottom of the division and compete.

AL West

Standings:

  1. Houston Astros         (18-8)
  2. Los Angeles Angels   (11-15, 6.5 GB)
  3. Seattle Mariners       (11-15, 7 GB)
  4. Oakland Athletics     (11-16, 7.5 GB)
  5. Texas Rangers           (9-16, 8.5 GB)

Review:

The Houston Astros couldn’t hit a baseball if it was sitting on a tee at the beginning of the season. In fact, Chris Carter still has two times more strikeouts (38) than he does hits (13). Since then, though, the Astros have been on fire and were on a 10-game winning streak before losing yesterday.

While the Astros are rolling, the rest of the division is working just to get to .500 records.

Seattle was picked by many (including me), before the season, to win the West and compete for a trip to the World Series. Despite Nelson Cruz’s league leading 14 home runs and 26 RBIs, the Mariners have been unable to get the winning run across in a majority of their game. Seattle is 8-10 on the season in games decided by two runs or less.

Josh Hamilton has yet to play a game this season but has been traded within the division, from the Angels to the Rangers.

Mike Trout continues to prove that he is the new face of the MLB, but the rest of his Angels team is negating his production, which is why the Angels find their selves seven games back of first place.

Outlook:

I don’t know if the Astros can continue to play this well the rest of the season, but with as bad as the rest of the division looks, and as big of a lead as they already have, there’s a good chance Houston could be atop of the division for a while. In order to do that though, Carter and George Springer are going to have to cut down on the strikeouts.

Once Austin Jackson and Hisashi Iwakuma return from their stints on the disabled list, the Mariners should begin to look like the team they were thought to be at the beginning of the season.

Trading Hamilton does solve one problem the Angels are facing, but certainly doesn’t solve them all. Los Angeles doesn’t have consistent pitching, and other than Trout, has questions hitting the ball.

With or without Hamilton on the field, the Rangers aren’t a good team. The bottom is where they will most likely stay for most of the year.

NL East

Standings:

  1. New York Mets                 (16-10)
  2. Washington Nationals    (13-14, 3.5 GB)
  3. Atlanta Braves                 (12-14, 4 GB)
  4. Miami Marlins                 (12-14, 4 GB)
  5. Philadelphia Phillies       (10-17, 6.5 GB)

Review:

Of all the teams to have a bad start to the season, I don’t think anyone saw the start the Nationals have had coming. Stephen Strasurg is 2-2 with an ERA over 4.00, and Max Scherzer has a 1-3 record. The question mark going into the season was the offense of Washington, and those questions have become reality as the Nationals are middle of the pack in runs scored and near the bottom of the league in team batting average.

And as surprisingly bad as the Nats have been, the Mets have been as good. New York won 11 games in a row during the middle of April. Matt Harvey leads the team in wins (5) and strikeouts (34) and shows no signs that the Tommy John surgery he had is effecting him.

Miami has rebounded from its horrendous start to the year, thanks to Dee Gordon and his six-game multi-hit streak, and Giancarlo Stanton has also heated up.

Outlook:

The Nationals have to figure things out, right? A pitching staff like that, they can’t be bad all season, right? Let’s hope so. It’d kind of be a shame if the team with the best odds to win the World Series heading into the season didn’t even make the playoffs.

I’m not backing down from my predictions, I still think the Nationals will win this division, and I still think the Marlins will come in second. Stanton and the rest of the offense will hit their stride, and once Jose Fernandez returns to the rotation around the All-Star break, this team will be a contender.

Atlanta will continue to be an average team this season, though its placement in the standings will fall the longer the season goes on. As will the Mets’ placement, though if Harvey continues to dominate on the mound like he is, New York could be a bit of a surprise contender in the East.

Philadelphia will have a stronghold on the bottom of the division for the entire season, especially once it trades away Hamels.

NL Central

Standings:

  1. St. Louis Cardinals   (19-6)
  2. Chicago Cubs             (13-11, 5.5 GB)
  3. Cincinnati Reds         (12-13, 7 GB)
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates     (12-13, 7 GB)
  5. Milwaukee Brewers  (8-18, 11.5 GB)

Review:

St. Louis had won its last six games entering Monday’s rematch of the first game of the regular season against the Cubs. The Cardinals outlasted the Cubs in a high-scoring affair to extend the win streak to seven in a row. St. Louis has had two important pitchers – ace Adam Wainwright, and setup man Jordan Walden – go down with injuries over the last week, yet despite those injuries have kept on winning.

The Cubs aren’t off to a great start to the season, but an above .500 record after the first month is a good starting point for a team that had so much hype over the off season. Chicago has called up Kris Bryant and Addison Russell from the minors to continue to keep excitement around the team.

Pittsburgh hasn’t performed to expectations at this point, as Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison are off to very slow starts. On the plus side, the Pirates have gotten solid pitching out of Gerrit Cole.

Outlook:

This division is St. Louis’ to lose. A major injury, like to Wainwright, could spell trouble for this team, as it would any team, even though the Cardinals haven’t lost since the injury occured. However, it’s a little hard to see the Cardinals continue to dominate without their ace on the mound every five days.

With that being said, it gives the other teams in the division a prime opportunity to make a move up the standings.

Pittsburgh is the team I have in mind to do that. McCutchen will break out of his slump and once he and the rest of his team starts hitting, I think the Pirates will contend once again for the division crown.

Chicago will continue to play well, however, I don’t think the Cubs are a good enough team to make the post season with its current roster. I think Cincinnati will be around .500 for a while longer, but the closer we get to the playoffs we will see the Reds fall.

NL West

Standings:

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers      (16-9)
  2. San Diego Padres            (14-13, 3 GB)
  3. San Francisco Giants     (13-13, 3.5 GB)
  4. Colorado Rockies             (11-13, 4.5 GB)
  5. Arizona Diamondbacks (10-14, 5.5 GB)

Review:

The Dodgers have quietly been one of the best teams in baseball through the first month of the season despite Clayton Kershaw being 1-2, and onslaught of players being on the DL. Adrian Gonzalez is playing like an MVP candidate with eight home runs and 20 RBIs, and Zack Greinke has carried the Dodgers on the mound.

San Diego has lived up to the hype it received in the off season after getting Matt Kemp, James Shields and both Upton brothers. Although a streaky team, San Diego is the highest scoring team in the National League.

Madison Bumgarner improved to 3-1 on the season last night, pitching 7.1 innings of two-hit baseball against the Padres. Outside of Bumgarner, the defending World Series champs have left a lot to be desired. San Fran doesn’t score a lot of runs and hasn’t gotten consistent pitching out of its starting rotation. The Giants also fell victim to an eight-game losing streak during the middle of April that buried them in the division. A recent sweep of the Dodgers brought the Giants back into the picture in the division.

Both the Rockies and Diamondbacks are on current slides; the Rockies losers of five in a row, and Arizona has lost three in a row. Colorado’s downfall thus far has been its starting pitching, which ranks last in the majors in quality starts.

Outlook:

One thing the Dodgers are going to have to work on for the rest of the season is winning close games. Los Angeles is 4-6 in games decided by two runs or less. The Dodgers are also a bad road team, with a record of 3-7 away from Dodger Stadium. Most of their key players that are on the DL won’t be coming back anytime soon, so it is imperative that Los Angeles stays healthy for the rest of the season.

In a weak NL West division, the Padres still have a few more weeks to improve on a few things on the field and still be in good position in the standings. The Giants, however, need to make improvements quickly. The starting rotation needs to get more consistent results, and the offense needs to score more runs.

Colorado and Arizona will be in the bottom of the division for the remainder of the season, as they are simply not as talented as the other three teams.

 

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