The biggest surprise in this division would have to be the Arizona D-Backs. They would be considered a division favorite with a Mannyless Dodgers team before the season, but the play on the field has negated any of those speculations. They sit at the bottom of their division with the least amount of runs scored in the National League (tied with the Chicago White Sox with the least amount of runs scored in the entire league). Not going to get it done.
The Dodgers are in front in large part due to their dynamic hitting. They jumped out to a great start this year, picking up right where they left off after acquiring Manny Ramirez last season. Then the bomb dropped. Manny won't be back until July but Hudson, Ethier, Martin, Loney and Kemp are more than enough to pick up the slack. Not to mention the rest of this division is just flat out BORING!
The Giants will be in the contention because of their pitching. No longer do they have a Barry Bonds type of hitter but Bengie Molina has begun the season to lead his team with 8 HRs and 30 RBIs. Young third-baseman Pablo Sandoval has done a great job swinging the bat in the 3 and 4 spots.
San Diego is a beautiful city and a Padres game would be an awesome family event, but they are going nowhere. They've lost 6 straight twice this season and haven't been able to elevate themselves into contention just yet. I'm not an expert, but I don't see it happening.
The Colorado Rocky Mountains would be the only Rockies worth mentioning. The baseball team fell to my Houston Astros in 2 out of 3 meetings last week which I'm sorry to say is not a good sign (Go Stros). They're ahead of the D-Backs right now but at not even midway through the season, they could easily fall. On the other hand they could rise by chance... But that's a very very small chance.
This division is supposed to belong to the Cubs and in a perfect world it probably would. In this imperfect world and unpredictable division the MILWAUKEE BREWERS have won 6 straight and are two games ahead of the Cubs for 1st place in the Central. Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun has hit the ball well for them with solid production across the board.
Look for the Cardinals to be the best whenever they are healthy. The Cubs will be in town for the next few day and that should be a lot of fun. St. Louis is a baseball city and they will love this kind of competition.
The Reds and the Pirates don't seem to have enough to mix it up with the Cubs, Brewers, or Cardinals. And I'm loathing my next sentence. They don't look as bad as my Astros.
Stros take on the Brewers in Minute Maid Park. They should play well.
The National League East is by far the most competitive division in the National League. Their worst team has a 3rd baseman in Ryan Zimmerman who has caused a huge buzz around the league with his 30 consecutive games with a hit. Not to mention Adam Dunn. It won't be enough to make any noise.
The Marlins have cooled off after a blazing start. Looks like the Phillies and the Mets are gonna duke it out a few months from now but don't sleep on the Atlanta Braves. Chipper Jones is being his Hall of Fame self and the starting pitching is doing a serviceable job. They won't win the division but they have enough to run on the heels of whoever fights for a Wild Card position in the end. That's just an FYI.
I've never been more proud of the Texas Rangers. Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News and regular panelist on ESPN's Around the Horn made a premature victory speech for the Rangers a couple of weeks ago. They may not have deserved it then, but they continue to play well day in and day out. They've won 7 straight and are dominating the division. The Rangers opened the season sweeping the series against Cleveland only to lose 5 straight after that. I hope to see them continue to beat the odds as they've answered the pitching questions that have always surfaced the ball club.
I would like to say that the Angels are going to live up to the expectations before the start of the season and the tragic death of Nick Adenhart. But I just wouldn't be being honest.
I would like to pretend that a know the slightest bit about the Oakland As, but I don't. Wonder why.
I would also like to see every home run Griffey hits this year as the DH. But that is the biggest headline with the Mariners. They started off strong but will come up short this year... Surprise, surprise, surprise.
The Kansas City Royals have a stud young pitcher in Grienke, surrounded with a really improved young team. This is a shaky division so anything could happen, but we have to love what the Royals are doing. This is a great story for baseball.
The Tigers are on top of the division and they will host the red hot Texas Rangers rolling on a 3 game winning streak of their own. Dontrelle Willis will get the first start as they hope to get him familiarized with the strike zone.
The Minnesota Twins are always a quiet contender. They were just swept by the Yankees and gave up 6 runs in the first inning, but I don't see panic or despair on any of the faces in that dugout.
The White Sox are a good team, just not a great team. They won't be a favorite for anything. They have lost 5 straight and will host the division rival Minnesota Twins this week.
The Cleveland Indians don't have a lot of fire power either. You have to respect that organization but underachieving is what they are good at. It shows in the standing. Though the Indians have scored the most runs in their division, they sit as the dead last loser. I know... My blogs are full of surprises.
And finally, last but certainly not least... It's that diving and thriving American League East:
Yankee fans can celebrate the 6 straight victories and the sweep over the Twins... Texeira's two home runs Monday night... A-Rod's homer Monday night. We haven't forgotten the inside the park home run Brett Gardner, or the 3 consecutive walk off homers to win the game.
Nor have we forgotten that the Toronto Blue Jays are in control of the division and could possibly leave the Yankees and Red Sox in their dust within months. Their ace Roy Halladay is off to a remarkable 8-1 start. The Blue Jay are also batting near .300 as a team.
I know a little something about the Boston Red Sox. Jason Bay has 40 ribbies and FYI: Dustin Pedroia is hitting like an MVP. Papelbon broke the Rays down last week. John Lester and Tim Wakefield are carrying the load and the ace is Josh Beckett. You think they're worried?
I just want to say that I personally like the Baltimore Orioles. They are in the wrong division. They will always play hard though.
I've been caught saying the Rays are better than the Yankees. Let me be clear, the talent on the Yankees roster is overwhelming against any team in any sport. But the Rays, from my understanding, are the defending American League Champions. The Yankees are not so much. Who is going to play well at the right time? And will it matter if the Blue Jays continue to dominate, and if the Red Sox are as great as I think they are? It's just May right?