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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | May 7, 2010

MLB Division Leaders: contenders or pretenders?

By Airman 1st Class Patrick McKenna 316th Wing Public Affairs

Tampa Bay Rays -
The Rays have shot out of the gate to the tune of an MLB best, 18-7 record, which is due in large part to their impressive 9-1 record on the road. Is that dominance away from Tampa Bay sustainable? Of course not, but this team has the talent and experience to challenge the Yankees for the division crown. It will come down to whether or not the Rays decide to push all in with the team they have now or decide to trade veterans Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena before their inevitable free agent departures.
Verdict: Contender

Minnesota Twins -
In what has come to be the most unpredictable division in all of baseball, the A.L. Central appears to be in for another exciting season. The Twins are rolling through the competition despite losing All Star closer Joe Nathan just before the start of the season, but the Tigers are right on their heels. The Twins offense is doing what most predicted it would prior to the season, but the big surprise is how their starting rotation is shaping up. Even the most diehard of Twins fans wouldn't have predicted their two most reliable starting pitchers would be Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano. The Tigers and White Sox won't make it easy on the Twins and this division should go down to the wire.
Verdict: Pretender

Texas Rangers - The Rangers always do this, don't they? They get off to a hot start, scoring runs in bunches and eventually their lack of pitching leads to a downward spiral toward the end of the summer. Could this year be different? The Rangers have a much better starting rotation than last year with the emergence of C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis as well as Rich Harden squeezing every ounce of ability he has left in his throwing shoulder before his annual stint on the disabled list. The Rangers will face stiff competition from the Angels and Mariners, but with no true ace and a shaky bullpen, they'll have a very tough time late in the season.
Verdict: Pretender

Philadelphia Phillies - If you thought Philly fans weren't fired up about the team's decision to trade Cliff Lee in the offseason, how do you think they feel now that their rotation is a mess behind Roy Halladay? Cole Hamels has yet to show the same poise he flashed during the Phillies title run in 2008 and while it's not imperative for him to get his act together in order for the Phillies to make the playoffs, he'll need to if they'd like to make it back to the World Series. The N.L. East is weaker than it has been in years and the Phillies main competition for the division crown will most likely be the Mets and Marlins.
Verdict: Contender

St. Louis Cardinals - The Cardinals appear to be the strongest team in the National League due in most part to their overall balance as a team. Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday are well known players, but they're not the only reason the Cardinals have been successful as an offense so far. Lesser known players like Colby Rasmus David Freese and Ryan Ludwick have helped round out the Cardinals offense and taken some pressure off of Pujols and Holliday. The pitching staff is anchored by Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, but Jaime Garcia and Brad Penny have solidified the back end of the rotation. The Cardinals have this division locked up and should be very dangerous in the postseason.
Verdict: Contender

San Diego Padres -
Ok, there's no way even the most passionate of Padres fans thought they'd spend more than a few days in first place. They are in the midst of a rebuilding process and have gotten off to a surprising start (second best record in N.L.), but it's not going to last. The rest of the N.L. West is too talented and whether it is Arizona, San Francisco, Colorado or Los Angeles, someone is going to play up to their potential and pass the Padres. Not to mention, it's a very real possibility that on August 1, the Padres best hitter, Adrian Gonzalez, will be wearing another team's uniform.
Verdict: Pretender