Saturday, July 13, 2013

AL Halfway Report

The American League is always perceived as the superior of the two. I, being a National League fellow myself, happen to disagree. However, this year the American League has been full of surprises, spectacular stories, and consistent play from some of the best to play the game.

Although the AL is full of a lot of fantastic things to watch, we do have to start with what has to be considered a monstrous disappointment thus far. This disappointment is none other than the Los Angeles Angels. More specifically, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Pujols is batting 250 with 14 home runs. Numbers that are not terrible, but numbers that the Angels and Albert have to be extremely disappointed with. Even worse, Hamilton is hitting a whopping 227 with 12 home runs. Considering both Hamilton and Pujols have an MVP in the past four years, they have to be considered incredible disappointments. Now the Angels are 10 games back of the A’s, we will get them later, but the only reason for that is Mike Trout. He is having an exceptional season, and if the Angels have any chance, they will have to ride Trout and hope those “superstars” find their old selves. But right now, we can undoubtedly label them as one heck of a disappointment.

Let us transition into a more joyous topic. How about that team that has been surprising us for years. They are such a remarkable story that they even had a movie made about them! The Oakland A’s have yet again proved that “Moneyball” is no fluke. They are leading the AL West over the Rangers and have the second best record in the American League. Sure that alone is great, but let us throw in the fact that they contain the fifth lowest payroll in all of baseball. Sounds a tad familiar does it not? They are let at the plate by one man in particular. Josh Donaldson is not your average household name, but he should become one. He is a monumental all-star snub, with a 316 average, 58 RBI’s, and 15 home runs. Besides Donaldson, no averages jump out at you. You have to look one step further though at where Moneyball makes its money, and that is On Base Percentage. The OBP’s of the A’s are sky high as a result of their patience, discipline, and knowledge of the system they have to play through to have success. Of course, let us not forget about the one and only Bartolo Colon. The 40 year old pitcher has 12 wins and 2.69 ERA in what is quite possibly the greatest season of his elongated career. Not too shabby for the 265 pound 40 year old out of Altamira, Dominican Republic.

Now for the players that have single-handedly made the most significant contributions to their esteemed squads this year. My first guy has to be none other than Chris Davis. The way he has bursted onto the scene this year is something I cannot recall in my lifetime. Not only has the man blasted thirty-five bombs and 88 RBI’s, he is also hitting for a 313 average. He is simply doing it all. His power to all fields is something rarely seen the current era, but it is evident in Chris for sure. My second player is none other than Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera’s fantastic season is of no surprise after his Triple Crown season last year, but he certainly is not slowing down this year. If it was not for Davis’s remarkable year, Miguel would be in line for yet another Triple Crown. However, his numbers still leave me in awe with his 367 batting average, 30 home runs, and perhaps most astonishing, his 95 RBI’s. Miguel looks to be in line for that MVP, and if Chris slows down, dare I even mention the incredible feat of back to back Triple Crowns?

Picking a team to win the American League is a difficult task to say the least. The Red Sox, or rather any AL East team, would be a logical pick because of their multitude of offense, but their lack of consistent pitching greatly concerns me in a playoff series. The teams out West have the same deal I fear. The Athletics have a more solid pitching staff, but an inexperienced pitching staff nonetheless that is untested in high pressure situations. As a result, this leaves for me the Detroit Tigers. They have the highest quality lineup anchored by stars Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the middle of the order. Their pitching is also battle tested with arguably the best pitcher in the game in Justin Verlander, and 13-0 Max Scherzer. Followed by quality starters Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez, the Tigers have all the essentials to do what it takes to make it back to the World Series. But with all the incredible stories in the American League this year, will we get surprised again? - Ben Greer

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