The AL Finish  (08/22/00)

I ran through the NL races the other day.  It's only fair I do the AL as well.  I used the same Runs Created formula that I used for the NL.  Here are the results:

R=runs, OR=Opponent runs, RC=runs created, ORC=opponent runs created, PW= projected wins, PL= projected losses

AL East
Team        Gms   RC    R  ORC   OR   W   L   PW   PL  +/-
Yankees     120  675  674  579  578  67  53   69   51  -2
Red Sox     120  614  599  545  541  64  56   67   53  -3
Blue Jays   125  710  693  717  724  64  61   62   63  +2
Orioles     123  639  623  708  739  54  69   55   68  -1
Devil Rays  122  593  593  664  659  53  69   54   68  -1

The Yanks moves in July certainly helped their cause.  Overachieving early in the season, this team has not only caught up to their wins but are now playing better than their record indicates.  That's bad news for the rest of the Al East.  Boston is also underachieving in the wins column and still has a shot at catching the Yanks.  If they can get some consistent starts from someone other than Pedro Martinez, they might be able to pull even on their 4 game home stand against the Bombers September 8-11.  The Jays stellar young pitching hasn't materialized as expected.  In fact, if not for the terrific year by journeyman Frank Castillo, the Jays probably wouldn't be in contention for the wild card.  It took the Padre's pitchers a little while to get used to Dave Stewart's direct, matter-of-fact style when he took over as the San Diego pitching coach in 1998.  However, it's clear he got positive results: many of the Padre pitchers had their best year under Stewart.  Whether he can foment a similar renaissance without the benefit of a spring training acclamation period should be interesting to see.  Regardless, if he remains the Blue Jays pitching coach next year, they will get better.  The O's are still floundering and will probably end the season in last place.  Everyone moans that GM Chuck Lamarr doesn't know what he's doing, but the D-Rays have some very good young players on the way (Josh Hamilton, newly acquired Brent Abernathy, newly promoted Aubrey Huff) and they aren't too far from making South Florida baseball competitive.

AL Central
Team        Gms   RC    R  ORC   OR   W   L   PW   PL  +/-
White Sox   124  741  768  645  645  74  50   71   53  +3
Indians     120  703  674  633  620  64  56   66   54  -2
Tigers      122  639  609  639  627  60  62   61   61  -1
Royals      123  635  667  729  723  58  65   53   70  +5
Twins       126  607  590  707  678  56  70   53   73  +3

The White Sox have surprised a lot of people with how good they are.  Everyone knew they had some hitters but their pitching has been much better than anticipated.  However, the staff is young and probably not as good as their record indicates due to the tremendous run support they received early on.  The White Sox have overachieved by 3 games may find themselves in a race for the division because the perennial pick in the Central is getting healthy and playing good baseball.  Cleveland, even with all it's injuries, has underachieved by a couple of games.  When healthy they are a very tough club with a lot of playoff experience.  If they can close to within 5 or 6 games by the beginning of September, the race for the division crown will definitely be on.  The Tigers have made an incredible run since May.  Is it for real?  Apparently, yes.  Will they get to the playoffs anytime soon?  No.  Everyone was talking about what a genius Tony Muser was at the beginning of the season.  Not too many are on that bandwagon now, although it does appear that the Royals are overachieving.  Maybe the talent simply wasn't as good as advertised.  The Twins have defied the spring training omen and have remained the Twins for yet another year.  However, with Radke, Milton, Mays and Redman, they have the makings of a very nice pitching staff.  Now if they could only get some hitters.

AL West
Team        Gms   RC    R  ORC   OR   W   L   PW   PL  +/-
Mariners    124  688  711  616  617  69  55   69   55   0
Athletics   122  686  698  669  661  66  56   63   59  +3
Angels      124  699  654  681  651  64  60   64   60   0
Rangers     122  666  655  709  694  56  66   57   65  -1

It's looking very much like the Mariner's year in the West.  Although with the way they've been pitching over the past 2 weeks, one has to wonder whether Lou Pinella has burned out yet another pitching staff.  If not, this is a team that can go deep in the playoffs.  The A's offense hasn't been as good as everyone thought they'd be.  Still, they're on pace to score over 900 runs which is still impressive, even in these run-crazy times.  Questions about their defense have been answered with the promotion of Terrence Long in center and the emergence of Miguel Tejada as one the best shortstops in the majors.  Speaking of Tejada, no discussion of the best shortstops in the AL is complete by just mentioning the "Holy Trio" - Rodriguez, Garciaparra and Jeter.  Tejada, on pace for nearly 30 homers and over 100 RBI  along with terrific defense, has to be mentioned.  The Angels have really taken to Mike Scioscia's steady influence and could contend next year if their young pitching continues to improve.  The Rangers will probably drag the bottom again next year without any quality arms to accompany Helling and Rogers in the rotation.  However, they will have a very good offense with rapidly improving Gabe Kapler and Frank Catalanotto to bat behind Palmeiro, Rodriguez, Mateo and Greer.