If you're not into baseball trivia, you should stop reading immediately. I said this last year and everybody (or nobody?) listened.
Tomorrow, Major League Baseball's All-Star Game will be played in Kansas City, Missouri. The All-Star Break has been considered by many to signify the midpoint of the baseball season, but actually the teams finished the first half of the schedule between July 1st, when the Mariners and Phillies played their 81st game and July 6th when the Washington Nationals became the last of the 30 teams to complete 81.
Due to scheduling and rainouts, there is obviously no single date upon which every team plays its 81st game. What follows is each team's record after 81 games displayed as standings for all the major league divisions. The standings below reflect a standings that never actually existed on any one day. It's just a way for me to see at the end of the season how each team performed in each half of the season. This is extreme baseball trivia to be engaged in only by retirees and others with an excessive amount of time on their hands.
AL - East
New York Yankees 49 - 32 (7/4)
Baltimore Orioles 44 - 37 (7/4)
Tampa Bay Rays 43 - 38 (7/3)
Boston Red Sox 42 - 39 (7/3)
Toronto Blue Jays 41 - 40 (7/3)
The over-achieving team here is the Orioles. I would not be surprised if they finish last as predicted by many. O's biggest bright spot? Closer Jim Johnson. It's still too early to count out the injury riddled Red Sox.
AL - Central
Chicago White Sox 44 - 37 (7/4)
Cleveland Indians 42 - 39 (7/4)
Detroit Tigers 39 - 42 (7/3)
Kansas City Royals 37 - 44 (7/5)
Minnesota Twins 35 - 46 (7/4)
Almost everyone picked the Tigers to win the central, and they still may. Poor defense and spotty pitching have been the big problems. While the Indians are doing better than expected, the White Sox under new manager Robin Ventura have been the big story. Adam Dunn's comeback has been a factor despite his piling up of strikeouts at a record pace.
AL - West
Texas Rangers 50 - 31 (7/3)
Los Angeles Angels 45 - 36 (7/3)
Oakland A's 39 - 42 (7/2)
Seattle Mariners 34 - 47 (7/1)
The Rangers battling the Angels for the division title is about what everybody expected. Trout and Trumbo have been leading the Halos.
NL - East
Washington Nationals 48 - 33 (7/6)
New York Mets 44 - 37 (7/3)
Atlanta Braves 42 - 39 (7/4)
Florida Marlins 39 - 42 (7/4)
Philadelphia Phillies 36 - 45 (7/1)
The standings are upside down. The Phillies were picked by many but injuries (Howard, Utley and Doc Halladay) have been a huge factor for the floundering Phils plus Cliff Lee didn't win his 1st game 'til a week ago. The Nats have received major contributions from 19 year old super rookie Bryce Harper and pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg while David Wright's bat has kept the Mets in contention.
NL - Central
Pittsburgh Pirates 45 - 36 (7/4)
Cincinnati Reds 44 - 37 (7/4)
St. Louis Cardinals 42 - 39 (7/3)
Milwaukee Brewers 38 - 43 (7/4)
Houston Astros 32 - 49 (7/3)
Chicago Cubs 31 - 50 (7/4)
The Pirates are the big surprise at the break as they were last year. But this time it looks like they may be in the race to stay. Led by Andrew McCutcheon, they will end their 19 year streak of failing to play at least .500 ball. The 1992 team won the NL East with a record of 96 - 66 under Jim Leyland. A shocker is A.J. Burnett's 10 - 2 record.
Reminder - the Houston Astros will move to the AL West beginning next year, the 2013 season.
NL - West
San Francisco Giants 45 - 36 (7/3)
Los Angeles Dodgers 44 - 37 (7/2)
Arizona Diamondbacks 39 - 42 (7/4)
Colorado Rockies 31 - 50 (7/4)
San Diego Padres 31 - 50 (7/2)
The real surprise here is that the Dodgers are still in the race with all the injuries they've had. Without Kemp, Ethier and now their leading base stealer, Dee Gordon, their lineup would have difficulty beating a triple A team.
When looking back on a season, I've heard commentators say, for example, that a player had 25 HR's at the All-Star break but his second half production dropped off so he finished with only 38. If he had kept up his first half pace he would have had well over 40 HR's. If the diminished production wasn't due to an injury, they may trot out the old explanations that the dog days of August or the pressure of the pennant race got to him.
Let's take a closer look. With 87 games in the books, the Seattle Mariners and the Philadelphia Phillies have played the most games at the All-Star break. As a result, they have only 75 remaining. It's tough to match your 1st half production in the 2nd half when you're playing 12 fewer games! (Last year the Angels played 92 games before the All-Star break.)
In past years, play resumed for most teams on the Thursday after the All-Star game. This year, no team plays 'til Friday. It means that baseball fanatics will only get to peruse one box score over the next 4 days. I'll have to check out the Triple A All-Star game featuring the best players from the International League vs the Pacific Coast League on Wednesday night, July 11th from Buffalo. It still seems weird to me that Nashville is a member of the PCL.For last year's 81 game standings, see my post of 7/3/11.