Where Is The American League Competition?

As the calendar turns to June, a third of the baseball season will have been played. Looking at the standings, it might as well end now. The American League’s best two teams may play in the east division. Those teams of course are the Red Sox and Yankees, as their historic rivalry has been renewed. The consensus other two potential A.L. World Series threats, Astros and Indians, seemingly already have their divisions locked up. Where is the rest of the A.L. competition?

The central division Indians are one game above .500 but have a 6.5 game lead on the Leaguesecond place Twins. The east division third place Rays, are already double digit games behind the Yankees and Red Sox. The lone somewhat competitive division is the west. Although it does seem to already be a lock that the Astros will win another division title, thanks in large part to their dominant pitching staff, at least the Angels and Mariners remain competitive.

The Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, and Astros, are going to run away with the American League.

Shohei Ohtani and his “Babe Ruthian” like play has sent shockwaves to the west division. Ohtani has given the Angels a much needed facelift. He has also been someone to take pressure off Mike Trout, as they try and keep up with the Astros. The Mariners and Angels look like they are going to be fighting all season for the final wild card spot. That seems to be the only playoff race.

Part of what has made baseball so great, especially recently in the last decade, has been the parody throughout the league. Low market teams such as the Kansas City Royals or Tampa Bay Rays, have reigned supreme in the A.L., both getting to the World Series in the last decade. Other sports such as the NBA seem very predictable. Fans, media members and experts, even from as early as the preseason, can pretty much pencil the Golden State Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals, due to the league’s collection of top end talent.

The American League Seems To Be Top Heavy.

The Red Sox/Yankees rivalry is the best in sports, but while they continue to thrive and deliver an impressive payroll, other low end markets such as the Chicago White Sox, are forced to “rebuild”. In other words, forced to trade their established stars for prospects. This way teams can have more team control on promising players for longer and pay them less. The Chicago White Sox are currently in the process of this rebuild. They currently have just 15 wins almost a third of the season through. Obviously with less wins, come less fans. It seems that these lower market teams, like Chicago, have completely empty ballparks and declining intrigue.

Teams who do not have money due to lack of revenue, can not spend on established stars, therefore can’t keep up with the stalwarts of the top markets. This is leading towards a top heavy league.

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An Improving David Price Needs Run Support

There’s no doubt that David Price is struggling. He’s 9-7, which is not bad, but not great either. Rather than focus on an improving David Price, we’re too focused on a failing David Price. That’s not fair, especially if you look at the fact that he currently leads the league in game starts, innings pitched, and batters faced. Despite his flaws, I think he will only get better. Like ESPN Baseball Tonight analyst John Kruk said, “Price is a veteran and can figure things outs.” The larger problem lies in the infield defense, and the inability to get crucial hits and RBIs.

Since June 8th, Price has pitched four 10+ strikeout games. Five of his losses since then were byImproving David Price two runs or less. Instead of blaming Price, look at the lack of run support. This leads me to the bigger problem that David Price faces.

Why can’t the Red Sox get crucial hits? Why does it seem like they choke when it’s do-or-die? Let’s take a look at the July series against the Texas Rangers as an example. Price pitched eight innings and gave up three runs on the 5th. The day before, the Red Sox left 12 runners on base (even though we won). The team left another 13 runners on base in a 7-2 loss to Texas the next day. 25 runners left on base in two days? That’s inexcusable.

Hanley Ramirez has trouble throwing home. His error in the July 28th game against the Angels allowed Elvis Andrus to score the go-ahead run. Ramirez does well at first base most of the time, but it’s not the first time this season that he botched a throw to home. Yes, they’re more than half way through the season and players are getting tired. But now’s not the time to fall apart.

An Improving David Price Would Be More Improved By Better Hitting

The Red Sox hitting is not at fault. As of July 29th, they lead the league in batting average (.289), on-base percentage (.355), and slugging (.475). When it comes to leaving runners on base, however, they lead the American League with an average of 7.35 per game. An improving David Price will do better if batters focus on driving home more runners.