Unlike the National League, the American League seems to be more set it stone in regards to how the standings have worked themselves out. For the New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins, the first half of their MLB seasons have all been very successful, to the point where they are leading their respective divisions by at least six-and-a-half games.
The Yankees, who have been very fortunate that the rest of their divisional counterparts have been struggling (except for the Tampa Bay Rays), have staked themselves out to a decently-large six-and-a-half-game lead over the second-place Rays, who have set themselves up quite nicely to make a run at the Wild Card.
The Boston Red Sox have absolutely stunk up the place but only find themselves 11 games back and four games above .500, which both are fortunate compared to their roster construction and how the injury bug has made its way through the team, although not on the same level as the Yankees.
In the West, the Astros have easily coasted their way in front of their divisional counterparts, only with the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers within single digit games back. The Astros resemble one of the best-built teams this year in both leagues and will look to compound their lead through various additions at this year’s trade deadline.
The Central has turned on its head for this season, as the Cleveland Indians decided to blow it up but also not fully blow it up this offseason in moves that saved them more money but still kept the vast majority of their talent. Needing an influx of talent that this team will most likely not pay to receive at this year’s deadline, the Twins seem to be riding high on their way to a seven-game lead, which seems larger than it is due to the poor play that the entire division has put on so far in 2019.
As noted, the Yankees have staked themselves a good lead in the East right before the All-Star break hits. Even with both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton missing a ton of time due to nagging injuries, this team has just kept on pumping out series victories.
Linked to [insert free agent name here], the Bronx Bombers have a few holes that they need to fill on their team but still, somehow, have the farm system to do it. The likes of Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, and even Anthony Rendon could all be seen wearing pinstripes before the trade deadline passes.
The Rays seem to be the Yankees’ biggest threat to winning the division, but the Red Sox are lurking too. Tampa Bay looks to be a few pieces away themselves and have again built up their farm system where they could look to bring in a large piece to push them over that line.
The tougher race in the East will be seeing if the Red Sox can actually pull themselves out of their current hole, and not if the Yankees win the division. Needing to mostly only hold off the Rays at this point, their postseason fate looks to be well on its way to being wrapped up.
Likelihood of the Yankees winning the AL East: 80%
The Astros have been this division’s most dominant team ever since Opening Day, and not many things have changed. Even with having to deal with injuries to Jose Altuve and George Springer, this team has not missed a beat and has actually looked a bit stronger than last season.
Both the Athletics and Rangers have outside chances at making the postseason at all, and both have strengths to each of their current rosters but neither seems strong enough to be able to make that final push. Of the two, the Rangers actually may have the better chance to make the playoffs due to their starting rotation and Joey Gallo, two areas that have both shined very brightly this season.
Houston has a few holes to plug up, like their outfield depth, catcher and bullpen, but all of those areas could easily be rectified at the deadline, as they sit on two big-time prospects in outfielders Kyle Tucker and Derek Fisher, who could be packaged in any deal to bring in a front-line acquisition (Stroman, MadBum, Felipe Vazquez [if the Pirates fall out of contention]).
Likelihood of the Astros winning the AL West: 99.99999%
For the Twins, this seems to be a bit of unfamiliar territory, as they are usually the team looking up at the Cleveland Indians in the lead of the Central. With the Indians and Twins having swapped roles this season, it is now the Twins time to shine, and that they already have.
While a seven-game lead is nothing to scoff at, the Twins have been so dominant over the first half of their season that it seems as though it is a very quiet seven-game lead. The Central looks to be one of the worst divisions in all of baseball this season and the Twins are taking absolute control of that situation before it turns into yet again a two-horse race.
Led by Jose Berrios, Max Kepler, and Byron Buxton, this team is full of youthful stars that may need to add a few pieces here or there to shore up this team. Being only a few pieces away is definitely not something that Twins fans expected to hear this season, but 2019 looks to be the culmination of all of their postseason demons, provided they get a favorable opponent in the ALDS.
Likelihood of the Twins winning the AL Central: 95%