This division should be called the AL Least. Once the most powerful division in MLB, no team in the AL East had a winning record in the month of May. The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays are tied for top spot in the division with a 26-25 record with the Baltimore Orioles (23-26), Toronto Blue Jays (23-29) and Boston Red Sox (22-29) all below .500. The Red Sox were particularly horrible going 10-19 in May, a month which saw them fire pitching coach Juan Nieves and replaced him with veteran pitching coach Carl Willis. It hasn’t made much of a difference. Yet despite all the misery, the Sox are only four games out of first place. One good week and they could be on top of the division. Ditto for the O’s and Jays. This is anybody’s division.
The team to watch in this division is the Minnesota Twins (10-12). They are 9-6 following a 1-6 start. I like Paul Molitor as their manager. He is still The Igniter. They might not play October baseball, but they will make things interesting.
Yet i could turn into a four team race. Although the Cleveland Indians (24-26) are 6½ games out, they went 17-12 in May after going 7-14 in April and are likely to get better. The jury is however out on the Chicago White Sox (23-26). Although they are only ½ game behind the Indians, the off-season acquisitions of Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche and Jeff Samardzija have not borne fruit. Although they played .500 ball in May (15-15) treading water won’t be good enough in the AL Central.
The Houston Astros (31-20) proved their 15-7 April was no fluke by going 16-13 in May and retain a four game lead in the division. Dallas Keuchel is turning in a Cy Young campaign for the Astros. However, both the Los Angeles Angels (27-24) and Texas Rangers (26-25) are on the Astros’ heels. I’m sure both the Angels and Rangers wish they were in the AL East. The Angels also went 16-13 in May and are only 4 games back of Houston while the Rangers, following a 7-14 April, went 19-11 in May and are only 5 games out of the lead. The Rangers have won 8 of their last 10 games. Their surge is particularly astonishing when you consider Yu Darvish, Nick Martinez, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison are all on the DL. Prince Fielder has returned to All-Star form while Josh Hamilton is happy to be back in the Lone Star State. However, Adrian Beltre just injured his thumb and it won’t be easy to find an All-Star calibre third baseman. But new manager Jeff Banister has got them much farther than anyone possibly expected.
Meanwhile, the Seattle Mariners (24-26) are treading water. A 14-14 May leaves the M’s 6 ½ back of the Astros. But who would have thought that the Oakland A’s (20-33) would be 12 games back of Houston on June 1st? The A’s went 11-19 in a month which saw a 9-game losing streak. The A’s recently added former Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington to their coaching staff. A’s manager Bob Melvin must be looking over his shoulder.
After being the darlings of baseball in April, the New York Mets (28-23) came back down to earth with a 13-15 May. The Washington Nationals (28-22) took full advantage of this situation with the return of Denard Span in the leadoff spot and the power of Bryce Harper. The Nats took over first place just before Memorial Day Weekend. However, due to a three game sweep by the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend, the Nats only have a ½ game lead over the Mets. Can you believe 42-year old Bartolo Colon is leading MLB with 8 wins? It will be interesting to see how the Mets respond to a six-man starting rotation?
The Atlanta Braves (25-25) are holding their own with a respectable 15-13 May and are only 3 games back of the Nats. The month of May was anything but respectable for the Miami Marlins (20-31) who fired Mike Redmond and replaced him with GM Dan Jennings who hasn’t managed a team since he coached high school baseball in Alabama during the Reagan Administration. The Marlins went 10-19 in May and are 4-9 under Jennings thus far. Despite this, Giancarlo Stanton has 15 HR and Dee Gordon is leading the NL in batting with a stellar average of .377.
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