Analysis, Baseball

A Midterm Report: MLB Predictions after the All-Star Break (Part 1: The American League)

The All-Star Break is coming to an end, and the MLB trade deadline is fast approaching. Every team is in the process of figuring out whether they should be a buyer or a seller.

With that in mind, here are predictions and scouting reports for each AL team for the second half of the season.


Boston Red Sox (Record at the All-Star Break: 68-30, Standing at the All-Star Break: 1st in the AL East, Projected Season-End Standing: 1st in the AL East)

The Red Sox boast the best record in baseball, powered by slugger JD Martinez, ace Chris Sale, and lights-out closer Craig Kimbrel, but they also have a tough second-half schedule to contend with. Nonetheless, their lead over the second-place Yankees has widened and it should give them enough cushion to finish out the year as the division leader, albeit in a close race. The Red Sox’s time is now, and they could be avid buyers at the deadline for a new catcher, second baseman, and middle reliever.

New York Yankees (Record at the All-Star Break: 62-33, Standing at the All-Star Break: 2nd in the AL East, 4.5 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 2nd in the AL East, 1st AL Wild Card)

The Bronx Bombers lead the league in home runs and are on pace to break the single-season record for long balls by a team. Their entire lineup, from the hulking sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton to the impressive rookie Gleyber Torres and sophomore Gary Sanchez, are home run threats. Despite an impressive ace in Luis Severino, the Yankees will be aggressively pursuing starters to stabilize the back-end of their rotation.

Tampa Bay Rays (Record at the All-Star Break: 49-47, Standing at the All-Star Break: 3rd in the AL East, 18 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 3rd in the AL East)

The Rays are in the unfortunate position of being in the AL. That means even with a winning record at the All-Star Break, they have little chance of even contending for a Wild Card spot. They’ll be sellers at the deadline, likely dealing their biggest assets (starters Chris Archer and Blake Snell). Yet they will have enough quality to hang on to 3rdplace in the division.

Toronto Blue Jays (Record at the All-Star Break: 43-52, Standing at the All-Star Break: 4th in the AL East, 23.5 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 4th in the AL East)

Despite having a solid lineup and reliable rotation, the Blue Jays have disappointed this season. They should be one of, if not the, biggest seller this season. They have several starters they can ship out as well as the injury-riddled, but still viable, Josh Donaldson. They already have shifted their focus to next season.

Baltimore Orioles (Record at the All-Star Break: 28-69, Standing at the All-Star Break: 5th in the AL East, 39.5 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 5th in the AL East)

The Orioles just sent Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers. They are also going to cash in Zach Britton, Adam Jones, and Brad Bach, who would have been free agents soon anyway. They are focusing on developing their middling farm system and are content to hang around in last place.


Cleveland Indians (Record at the All-Star Break: 52-43,  Standing at the All-Star Break: 1st in the AL Central, Projected Season-End Standing: 1st in the AL Central)

The Indians would be in 2nd in any other division, yet they have a comfortable lead over the Twins. Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor are posting great numbers, and Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber are still top-notch starters. Even with Andrew Miller coming back, the Indians will still seek to bolster their bullpen before the deadline. They need to in order to be able to contend with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros for a spot in the 2018 MLB World Series.

Minnesota Twins (Record at the All-Star Break: 44-50, Standing at the All-Star Break: 2nd  in the AL Central, 7.5 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 2nd in the AL Central)

The Twins looked like a contender for the AL Central at the start of the season. Yet they sit at the halfway point with a losing record and have their sights set on the 2019 season. They will be tentative buyers, seeking to augment their up-and-coming core of players with a few others who might propel them into playoff contention this time next year.

Detroit Tigers (Record at the All-Star Break: 41-57, Standing at the All-Star Break: 3rd  in the AL Central, 12.5 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 3rd  in the AL Central)

The Tigers only had one All-Star—the minimum allowed for any team—a relatively  unknown pitcher named Joe Jimenez. That’s a major red flag, and in response, they will be dealing some of their veterans and pending free agents at the deadline, and might even consider parting ways with some of their younger stars in Nick Castellanos and Michael Fulmer. Despite their middling record, the Tigers are in a deep rebuild, with success more than a few years away.

Chicago White Sox (Record at the All-Star Break: 33-62, Standing at the All-Star Break: 4th in the AL Central, 19 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 4th in the AL Central)

The White Sox have had a very weak season. It’s a miracle they aren’t in last place. But they are on an upward trend, and every year from here on will be better. To speed up that process, the White Sox will explore any possible sales, but they have fewer assets than other teams to put on the trading block. Most likely they’ll stay put for now.

Kansas City Royals (Record at the All-Star Break: 27-68, Standing at the All-Star Break: 5th  in the AL Central, 25 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 5th in the AL Central)

The Royals have already started their fire sale. They dealt Jon Jay to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Kelvin Herrera to the Washington Nationals. They are unlikely to stop, nor should they. Their next moves will be to trade Lucas Duda and Mike Moustakas, and maybe even to cash in Danny Duffy and Whit Merrifield. The Royals have their sights set on the future, and won’t manage to climb out of last place this year.


Houston Astros (Record at the All-Star Break: 64-35, Standing at the All-Star Break: 1st in the AL West, Projected Season-End Standing: 1st in the AL West)

The defending champions are back at it. The Astros are on track to break the 100-win barrier, along with the Yankees and Red Sox, and boast a league-leading +186 run differential. They can be counted to acquire a reliever or two in the coming weeks to complement the best on-paper team in baseball. They have their eyes firmly set on another championship, and that is distinctly within the realm of possibility.

Seattle Mariners (Record at the All-Star Break: 58-39, Standing at the All-Star Break: 2nd in the AL West, 5 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 3rd in the AL West)

The Mariners have far exceeded pre-season expectations and now are firmly in the running for the second AL Wild Card. But in order to do that, they will need to improve their offense and their pitching. Not an easy task. But with a -1 run differential thus far, their record may be overstating their current quality. Ultimately, they will end up just shy of a playoff berth.

Oakland Athletics (Record at the All-Star Break: 55-42, Standing at the All-Star Break: 3rd  in the AL West, 8 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 2nd in the AL West, 2nd AL Wild Card)

The Athletics find themselves halfway through the season only a few games out from the second AL Wild Card spot. To bridge that gap, they will pursue starters at the deadline to augment the back end of their rotation. Yet their organization doesn’t have the money or the prospects to make any mega deals, so they will have to find affordable, but reliable, options.

Los Angeles Angels (Record at the All-Star Break: 49-48, Standing at the All-Star Break: 4th  in the AL West, 14 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 4th  in the AL West)

The Angels have the misfortune of calling the AL West home. That means even with a winning record, a solid lineup, and a favorable second-half schedule, they are the common pick for 4th place in their division. It will be close, much closer than their current record indicates (powered by the bat of Mike Trout), but they have a little too much ground to make up. The Angels will probably stay put at the deadline, in the hopes of the Mariners and A’s slipping up, but they should be selling off their impressive crop of assets.

Texas Rangers (Record at the All-Star Break: 41-56, Standing at the All-Star Break: 5th in the AL West, 22 GB, Projected Season-End Standing: 5th in the AL West)

The Rangers are stuck in the past. The franchise made five postseasons from 2010 to 2016, powered by the same players as today. Adrian Beltre needs to go. So does Bartolo Colon and Cole Hamels. Texas may want to retool and send Jurickson Profar, Elvis Andrus, Joey Gallo, and Nomar Mazara packing as well. That crop of players had the chance to put the Rangers back in contention, but that chance is already fading.


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