If the season ended today, the Yankees would be in the playoffs, but they wouldn't have the best record in baseball. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE
Checking in on where things stand with about a week to go before we hit the 3/4 mark on the 2012 MLB season ...
- If the season ended today, your division winners in the AL would be the New York Yankees (67-47, up 5.0 in the East), the Chicago White Sox (62-51, up 2.0 in the Central), and the Texas Rangers (67-46, up 6.5 in the West). The Tampa Bay Rays (62-52) and the Baltimore Orioles (62-53) would have the AL Wild Cards, but only barely - the Detroit Tigers (61-54) and Oakland Athletics (61-53) are within a game. Your division winners in the NL would be the Washington Nationals (71-44, up 4.5 in the East), the Cincinnati Reds (69-46, up 4.5 in the Central), and the San Francisco Giants (63-52, up 1.0 in the West). The Atlanta Braves (66-48) and Pittsburgh Pirates (64-50) would have the NL Wild Cards, with the St. Louis Cardinals (62-53) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (62-53) in close pursuit. And your worst team, by a considerable distance over the Colorado Rockies (41-71) and the Chicago Cubs (44-69), would be the Houston Astros (38-78). It's hard to believe this wasn't their intention, of course.
- Every year, we follow the story lines that develop over the first month or two with perhaps too much attention, attaching significance to samples sizes that we would otherwise discard if they came during a random stretch from, say, June to July. To wit, Grant Brisbee writes up some of the story lines we'd be now following if the season had started in the second half. Bryce Harper is overmatched, Albert Pujols is on his way to his best season ever, and the Astros ... well, they're still bad. It's a great read.
- So, Manny Machado just hit his third homer in four games since surprisingly being called up for the Orioles' playoff push. The 20-year-old is extremely good, but I'm not sure anyone expected this kind of debut.
- Jon Lester just won his first start since late June, beating up on the cascading Indians to the tune of 12 Ks over six innings of one-run ball. In that stretch of consecutive losses, Lester's ERA was well over seven.
- In bad news for the Red Sox, young star third baseman Will Middlebrooks is likely to miss the rest of the season with a broken wrist, which he suffered on a hit by pitch on Friday night. He had an .835 OPS. The Red Sox are already without David Ortiz, who is taking it easy on his recovery from an achilles injury.
- The Yankees had to put ace CC Sabathia on the DL with "elbow stiffness," which will make all Cubs fans cringe, thinking about Matt Garza's innocuous "elbow stiffness" that became a "stress reaction," and has imperiled his season. The difference here, though, is that Sabathia has largely been pitching through the stiffness, and is expected to come off the DL after just a short stint.
- In your little league video of the day (no, not from the Little League World Series, where this still wouldn't have been explicable): AJ Pierzynski scores from first base on a ground ball to shortstop. There were no errors on the play.