MLB Week in Review (July 7-13)

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This past week the MLB took a break to honour and display the best of the best in the league so far this year. The All-Star break is the unofficial halfway mark of the season, as the true halfway point is 81 games which is usually reached a week before the All-Star game. The game has become a staple in almost all leagues and in the MLB it is no different as they look to showcase the top players in the league. To do this the MLB has used the All-Star break to their advantage featuring the All-Star Game and the very successful Home run Derby. The festivities begin with the Home Run Derby that pits the best power hitters from the American League taking on the best form the National League. This year the captains, Matt Kemp and Robinson Cano, picked their teams as Cano selected Jose Bautista, Prince Fielder, and Mark Trumbo while Kemp chose Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gonzalez, and Andrew McCutcheon. The most interesting thing about these picks was that hometown power hitter Rob Butler was not picked which drew the boos from the Kansas City crowd, all directed at Robinson Cano. Despite his lack of popularity Cano pick the right team as all three of his picks moved on with the top three hitters coming from the American League. Cano and Kemp did not impress though both finishing in the bottom spots with Cano, much to the delight of the crowd, hitting 0 HRs. It was Prince Fielder who came out on top for the second time in his career as he outslugged HR leader Jose Bautista in the final round. After the fun of the derby the focus shifted to the game when the best of the National League would take on the best of the American League. There would be something to play for yet again as the winning team would earn home field advantage for their league in the World Series. The game would feature the pitching of the National League against the offence of the American League face-off to see who would come out on top. The NL had won two straight before 2012 as the steroid era faded and pitchers began making an impact again giving the NL a leg up on the competition. They would also have an emotional edge as Chipper Jones would enter his final All-Star game ever as he will retire at the end of the year. As a fan favorite in almost any market Jones received a standing ovation when he first entered the game as the National League looked to win another one for Chipper. They did just that too as the first inning saw reigning AL Cy Young award winner, Justin Verlander get touched up in the first inning. It was the bats and the offence of the NL that took control at the start of the game earning five runs off of Verlander and hitting around the rotation. Then it was the NL’s pitching staff who took over as Matt Cain was able to get through his two innings and the rest of the pitchers did the same. In the end it was the National League who came out on top with an 8-0 score as Chipper Jones was able to go out on top in his last All-Star game. It also marked the third win in a row as they officially start a winning streak after failing to compete for years during the steroid era. The most important part of the win is that the National League will gain home field advantage in the World Series. For many this means nothing but the stats don’t lie as the last 7 World Series has been won by the home-field team. This year the National League will be looking to make it 8 years in a row as whoever comes out of the NL will get the advantage thanks to a dominate performance by the All-Star team.

With the All-star break over the start of the postseason race is just beginning as teams look towards the playoffs with less than 80 games left. In the American League the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, and Texas Rangers all look to be in control of their postseason fate. All three are winning their divisions with the Yankees and Rangers far ahead of the competition. The White Sox are the only team that look to be in for a tight race down the stretch as the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers both look for a late season run. In the Wild Card race the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles could be on a collision course for the play in-game. The Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians, and Detroit Tigers will all be looking for their say in the double wild card race as well in what looks to be a great race. In the National League the Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Los Angeles Dodgers are all holding on to slight leads in their division. All three divisions in the NL could come down to a very close race down the stretch. In the East the race will come down to Washington and Atlanta as both are not too far off especially if the Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg. In the Central the surprising Pirates could have to win a three-horse race with Cincinnati and St. Louis both within striking distance. In the West it will be a classic battle between Los Angeles and San Francisco as they both look to perform down the stretch. With all three races looking to be good the Wild card will come down to the two losers who were the closest to winning their division. The rest of the season looks to be a good one and with two wild card spots up for grabs the race will be extended longer than ever with all fans hoping for a repeat of last year.

 

MLB Standings

American League

East:

1. New York Yankees (.616)

2. Baltimore Orioles (.523)

3. Tampa Bay Rays (.517)

4. Boston Red Sox (.506)

5. Toronto Blue Jays (.494)

Central:

1. Chicago White Sox (.558)

2. Cleveland Indians (.523)

3. Detroit Tigers (.517)

4. Kansas City Royals (.435)

5. Minnesota Twins (.419)

West:

1. Texas Rangers (.609)

2. Los Angeles Angels (.552)

3. Oakland Athletics (.506)

4. Seattle Mariners (.409)

 

National League:

East:

1. Washington Nationals (.595)

2. Atlanta Braves (.547)

3. New York Mets (.529)

4. Miami Marlins (.477)

5. Philadelphia Phillies (.420)

Central:

1. Cincinnati Reds (.558)

2. Pittsburgh Pirates (.558)

3. St. Louis Cardinals (.529)

4. Milwaukee Brewers (.477)

5. Chicago Cubs (.395)

6. Houston Astros (.379)

West:

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (.545)

2. San Francisco Giants (.540)

3. Arizona Diamondbacks (.488)

4. Colorado Rockies (.395)

5. Colorado Rockies (.386)

 

All-Star Break:

National League 8 – 0 American League

– It only took one inning for the National League to get ahead as Justin Verlander was hit for 5 runs in the 1st inning while the National League pitching corps was able to shutout the American League offence for their 3rd straight All-Star win

 

Home Run Derby:

1. Prince Fielder

2. Jose Bautista

3. Mark Trumbo

4. Carlos Beltran

5. Carlos Gonzalez

6. Andrew McCutcheon

7. Matt Kemp

8. Robinson Cano

 

Next Week:

Los Angeles Angels vs. New York Yankees (Saturday July 14th; 1:05 pm ET)

– The Angels are sitting in the first of two wild card spots as they look to finally make the playoffs after being the bridesmaids for so long and they will start their second half off against the best team in the League the New York Yankees

 

Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox (Monday July 16th; 7:10 pm ET)

– Longtime fan favorite in Boston Kevin Youkilis returns to Boston for the first time after being traded a few weeks ago to Chicago where he has made a solid impact both on and off the field the question is will he be booed or cheered in his return

 

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers (Tuesday July 17th; 8:10 pm ET)

– Milwaukee looks to start a climb up the standings in the second half for a playoff spot while the Cardinals look to climb up for the division crown as they both look to start off their second halves on a good note in the first week

 

New York Mets vs. Washington Nationals (Wednesday July 18th; 7:05 pm ET)

– Two teams that have not been in the talk of the postseason are now looking to continue their surprising first halves as they look to both be the team with one of the best turnarounds this season

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