A Look At The AL Contenders

With the MLB trade deadline looming on the horizon and a new playoff format there are certainly less sellers in the market at this time than usual. In the American League there are several more contenders than before. Yet each has a weak link that they need to pay attention to or else they might not make a deep run in the postseason. Under this new format even a team like the Toronto Blue Jays who currently possess a losing record and a sub-.500 record might sneak in. Here’s a quick breakdown though of the top two in each division:

New York Yankees
Current Standing: 1st in the East
Weakness: Relying Heavily on Home Runs
The Yankees are a virtual lock for the postseason being up by eight games in the division. As of this writing, they’ve hit 147 home runs that’s 16 more than the Toronto Blue Jays who are second with 131. Right now that is their only way of putting up runs. Not a bad way but in the postseason it’ll become a lot more difficult.

Baltimore Orioles
Current Standing: 2nd in the East
Weakness: Weak Starting Rotation
The Orioles have Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen and that’s about it. These two starters have been consistently good but outside of them there hasn’t been much. With a trade or two they could shore up this issue but it might be too late. They don’t have much in the farm system and the few they’ve called up haven’t panned out.

Detroit Tigers
Current Standing: 1st in the Central
Weakness: Wretched Infield Defense
The team is starting to heat up which explains why they’re only a half game out for the division lead. Expect this race to come down to the very end. The Tigers currently are one of the poorer fielding teams in MLB. An average fielding outfield is acceptable but their infield on the corners has serious issues. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder have great bats but their glove work is a concern.

Chicago White Sox
Current Standing: 2nd in the Central
Weakness: Missing Power
The trade for Kevin Youkilis has turned out to be a pleasant surprise otherwise the dearth of power from Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko would really be haunting them. Dunn is striking out a lot and Konerko just can’t drive in runs. What should be a positive hasn’t
been. The White Sox pitching staff has been phenomenal and has kept this negative under wraps.

Texas Rangers
Current Standing: 1st in the West
Weakness: Sense of Urgency Lacking
A third straight World Series appearance cannot be taken for granted. Nolan Ryan and  Jon Daniels have put together a very solid team that is hard to beat but in the postseason they need to be hitting on all cylinders. The lack of hitting, the injury bug and not dominating the division have many wondering if the fire is missing.

Los Angeles Angels
Current Standing: 2nd in the West
Weakness: Over Relying on Youth
The Angels opened their wallets with big free agent signings this past offseason. When Albert Pujols was in a slump at the start of the season, youngsters Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo stepped up in a big way. Without these two the Rangers would have run away with the division. The inexperienced outfield could wear down towards the end of the season. Then what will they do?

By Frank LaCosta – flacosta@blitzweekly.com