Recap of Each AL Team's Season So Far
We are finally past the dog days of summer, and the playoff pushes have begun. We’ve watched some teams completely fall apart. Yes, I am talking about the Los Angeles Angels … please forgive me, Mike Trout. Other teams like the Guardians have rocketed into playoff positions. Here are your roughly 100 words per AL team recapping the first 120 games of this season.
New York Yankees - The Yankees started the season incredibly hot and seem to have run into some struggles following the all-star break. Power-hitting phenom Aaron Judge has posted some incredible numbers and is on pace to potentially tie Roger Maris’s 61 single-season home run record (shut up if you think I’m wrong; Maris did it without the needle). In addition to strong offensive performances around the diamond, the starting pitchers and bullpen have held their own. My biggest concern is their bullpen being beaten up as we go down the stretch. Chad Green and Michael King are out for the year; Clay Holmes, Zack Britton, Scott Effros, and Miguel Castro are all on either the 10 Day-IL or 15 Day-IL. Can their pen get healthy in time?
Toronto Blue Jays - The Jays are a dangerous team and have one of the biggest advantages come postseason. Not to get political, but Canada still isn’t allowing teams to travel there with unvaccinated players, which could add headaches for some teams. So far, the Blue Jay offense has been great. It is currently second in team batting average and tied for 3rd in wOBA. The frontline starters have dazzled, especially Alek Manoah, who is a Lance Lynn Jr. when it comes to his temperament. Their bullpen, though, has been just flat-out bad. Their pen ranks 13th in innings pitched, yet it is 21st in WAR. I am concerned about their backend, to say the least. Solid relievers definitely help come October. Can they get the arm barn back into it?
Tampa Bay Rays - What else can I say? The Rays are going to Rays. Despite having constant injury issues this season, they still have the first Wild Card spot. Their starters have been great, whether it is Shane McClanahan or Jeffery Springs. Shoutout to those two guys for balling out on my fantasy team. The bullpen and offense have been lackluster, however. This team does not have a true power bat, which can be problematic come the postseason, but I am most concerned about their bullpen. It leads the majors in innings pitched, but they are 18th in WAR. They rank 16th in FIP and 15th in xFIP. Historically Rays teams are built on home runs and a strong backend. Will they be able to recoup and play Ray postseason baseball?
Boston Red Sox - What the Samuel Adams Boston Pale Ale happened here? The success they experienced in the second half of 2021 seems to be more of an anomaly than a return to form. This team looks more like the 2020 Red Sox than the 2021 Red Sox. Is Alex Cora on the hot seat? Are you really about to lose J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts in a single off-season? Their trade deadline moves were that of a team who can’t admit who they are… the worst team in the AL East.
Baltimore Orioles - Freezing Cold Takes exposed me on this one. I did not see this team being a few games out of a Wild Card spot come September. Congrats to all the real Orioles fans out there. Everyone else just hopped on the bandwagon at some point this year, but I am in that group. Adley Rutschman has turned this franchise around. He struggled when he first debuted, but in the 22 days, he has put up 1.4 fWAR, which is first in the MLB among catchers. I hope this team makes a run in September and makes it to the postseason.
Cleveland Guardians - As I said in the preseason, this organization plays smart baseball. They have zigged when other teams have zagged. What I mean by this is that their offensive approach doesn’t prioritize power. They have gone to the traditional approach of hitting - put the ball in play and good things will happen. Good things have happened for this team this year! They are in first place despite being rumored to sell at the deadline. I am glad that they didn’t. I love their tough at-bats and willingness to just put the ball in play and put the stress on the defense.
Chicago White Sox- This team was supposed to run away with the division and be a World Series contender. Well, that does not seem to be the case. What went wrong? Personally, I think Tony La Russa has lost the locker room and created a void that veteran leadership hasn’t fulfilled. In addition, the White Sox have had one of the most injured lineups in baseball. I do not see the road forward for this team. All that being said, I also see a world where this club gets hot in September and retakes the division due to their sheer talent. However, I am doubtful that this team will make a run in October, so that leads me to my big question: is this the end of Tony La Russa as White Sox manager?
Minnesota Twins - I don’t know what to say about this team. I think they are fraudulent and benefit from playing in arguably the weakest division in baseball. Yet that argument could also be made for the White Sox and Guardians. Minnesota’s superstar duo, Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton, is made of glass. Neither has been able to stay 100% healthy, which is a recipe for a collapse. Their backend arms still have struggled, producing a whopping 0.6 fWAR on the year. That ranks second to last in the majors… definitely not what one wants to see from a “playoff-caliber” team.
Detroit Tigers - This team broke my heart. They were my sleeper team, and dang were they sleeping! No offense, but they literally have no offense. They rank 27th in the MLB in batting average, 29th in on base percentage, and dead last in wOBA. Certainly not ideal. Fortunately, their pitching has been shockingly good. Their starting staff has struggled to stay healthy, but their entire pitching core has arrived from the minors. Mega-prospects Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson are in the Show as well, but they have both struggled. I am not sure what else to say, but I was wrong about this team. I hope they do not throw in the towel in the offseason and restart the rebuild.
Kansas City Royals - Hey, they are rebuilding still. Let’s not be mean. They are promoting prospects when ready and not manipulating service time. Dayton Moore, the Royals GM, is known for running out the groundball and being a player-first GM. He has an upward climb ahead of him if he wants to retake the division in years to come, but he has one of the best farm systems in baseball to help him. Also, I love Bobby Witt Jr., just want to make sure everyone knows. He is cool.
Houston Astros - Great ball club. That's all I can say. Their player development in recent years has produced two of baseball’s best hitters in Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker. This team is as consistent as the sun. Dusty Baker does not receive enough credit for turning around the club from a sub .500 team in 2020. Recently, the arm barn has experienced regression, but that is not worthy of concern. The Astros have the best record in the AL, and I am willing to bet that is how they will finish this year. Here’s to more Astros fans dancing on MLB fans’ graves when we make trashcan jokes before Houston eliminates our teams in the postseason.
Seattle Mariners - America’s team has turned it around after a slow start. I was worried that they would make my wildcard prediction for them look bad, but Julio Rodriguez always has me. He is making a strong case for AL ROY and has drawn some esteemed comparisons to divisional rival Mike Trout. The biggest question regarding this team is how their starters will hold up down the stretch and/or in October. The majority of their starters are young and do not have big game experience.
Los Angeles Angels - PAIN. This team had postseason expectations coming into the season, and they do what they do every year - overpromise and underdeliver. For the first two months of the season, they were the team to beat, and now, teams are lining up to face them for the easy win. Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani did their normal incredible baseball things, but two players aren’t enough. Taylor Ward lit the world on fire for a month before getting injured and hasn’t found that same power stroke he had in the first half. Angels pitching has been inconsistent aside from Ohtani, who has improved as a pitcher since last year. I do not know anymore. This team hurts me every year. I feel like Charlie Brown kicking the football at this point. It was cool having Trout and Ohtanti paired up the last few years, but that era of Angels baseball is over as Shohei Ohtani seems likely to leave in free agency. I hope that whereever he goes he is allowed to shine as a two way player and make it to the postseason. We cannot have another generational talent never sniffing the postseason.
Texas Rangers - They spent the money and are on pace to be a 65-plus win team, which isn’t horrible considering they followed the Angels line of thinking and did not get much pitching help. They definitely should have learned from the Angels mistakes. Seager and Siemen have not produced as expected, but I attribute that to them getting used to playing in a new stadium. I am not worried about the future of this team, and I am very excited for the next few seasons of Rangers baseball. At this point, the goal should be to get to 70 wins, which would be a huge step forward for this franchise.
Las Vegas Athletics - Oops. I did not mean Oakland. This team is so bad that the city of Oakland does not want them anymore. Shea Langliers will hit absolute nukes in the desert. Kinda curious about what the front office does since there are two great catchers on the major league roster, Sean Murphy and Shea Langliers. Someone is about to get traded…
Is anything going to change over the next 6 weeks? In the Central, how stable is the Guardians hold on the division? Will they be caught? I hope not, yet I am also rooting for the chaos to come. Although, I do want to remind fans that there is no more Game 163. Tiebreakers are now broken by math. This is very disappointing - Game 163 is where legends are created. I want justice for game 163. Additionally, can the Orioles or White Sox or Twins capture some September magic and sneak into the postseason? Time to sit back and watch the madness unfold down the homestretch. Some fans will be like me and just root for anarchy since our teams have been out of the race since April 8th, and others will either stress or rejoice as their team makes it to the promised land, October baseball.
"Aaron Judge" via Keith Allison licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0