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American League

Overachieving American League teams looking to sneak into the playoffs

Currently, the American League is situated with three divisional leaders that most pegged to be holding down the top spots at this point in the season. With the Yankees holding a slim advantage in the East, the Minnesota Twins being a big surprise by running away with the Central and with the Houston Astros on cruise control in their lead of the West, the divisional leaders seem to mostly already be figured out.

In the East, the Red Sox have been dealing with a tumultuous season, coming off of their World Series victory in 2018. Sitting all the way back in third place is nothing to be proud of, especially due to the fact that their roster mostly all returned in tack from their championship run.

Five and a half games back of the Bronx Bombers will be a hard deficit to close, especially with their already inflated salary situation. Not truly being able to make the big-salary acquisitions will hurt this franchise, especially how the Yankees have already begun to make improvements to their injury-riddled roster.

Adding the parrot holder Edwin Encarnacion to an already stacked lineup should be illegal, but again it is the Yankees. Once this team gets back to full strength, if it ever does, the feared middle of the lineup will include Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, and Encarnacion, on top of their other hitters.

The AL Central looks to be the biggest surprise of all, as the Twins are well on their way to closing the book on the divisional race. Already up double-digits (10) over the second-place Cleveland Indians, all the Twins need to do is hold this pace and set the cruise control to playoff mode.

Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi have really become the two starting pitching stalwarts for this squad, and Nelson Cruz and Jonathan Scoop are leading the way at the plate, offensively. The Central has been looked at as one of the league’s worst divisions right now, and the Twins are taking full advantage of it, hitting the Indians hard during a season that saw them cut ties with high-salary players in order to remain competitive, as contrarian as that sounds.

For the West, the Astros were always going to be the best team in that division, far and away. No competition makes it yet another cakewalk for this franchise, as they have one of the league’s most sound rosters from top to bottom.

Tampa Bay Rays

Currently holding down the second place spot in the East, the Tampa Bay Rays were considered to be a hidden gem in the AL this season. While not expected to compete for the top spot in their division, the low budget, prospect-rich Rays are well on their way to giving the Yankees a run for their divisional crown money when August rolls around.

Riding on the back of expected All-Star Austin Meadows, combined with Charlie Morton and Blake Snell’s pitching, this team is super interesting to watch and has the intangible parts already on this team to make a run. While never truly going to be in trade talks for big-time players, although this season could prove otherwise, Tampa Bay and their fans finally have a semi-finished product that should want to make fans fill the stadium.

Texas Rangers

While any other teams in the West are competing for second in that division, especially with how the Astros have had a tight grip on the top spot since the year began, the Texas Rangers were not looked at to have the pieces to fight for a wild-card spot.

Starter Mike Minor has had a major resurgence year, Joey Gallo has re-envisioned himself into a bonafide designated hitter who sets out to either strike out or hit the ball out of the stadium, and Hunter Pence seems to finally have found a home after bouncing around for so many seasons.

Unfortunately, this team does not have Adrian Beltre to look to for any veteran leadership at this point, having retired after last season. Only eight and a half games back of the Astros, this team is in prime condition to make a spirited run at the wild card round, with good potential to spring a surprise and get themselves into the next round.