Baseball and Run Differentials.
As we all know, it is run differential which is more indicative of future success than actual win total is. Since we have just passed by the midway point, allow me to reposition the postseason candidates via their run differential.
The Sure Thing:
Chicago Cubs (+107)
As much as it pains me to say this, the Cubs have been the most dominant team in baseball this year. Even more so than their record indicates (it's the best in baseball.) They have a terror of a lineup, a solid bullpen, and enough starting pitchig - especially with the addition of Rich Harden - who, at his worst will give them 8 great starts before breaking down. (Actually, if I was the Cubs I wouldn't even let him pitch until about 4 weeks left in the season so he's fresh for the postseason. Stuff gets no better than Zambrano-Harden 1-2 punch.) But, it's safe to say that the Cubs are assured a spot in the postseason.
Boston Red Sox (+87)
The Sox have "struggled" this year especially when they got swept by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. But, they are nearly a sure thing to win the division even trailing the Rays. Their run differential is thirty runs better and they have done this largely without David Ortiz who could be returning. Additionally, they have more good major league-ready arms than any team in baseball. Injuries to their pitchers don't seem to phase them because they always have a Lester, Buchholz, Masterson who can step in. Okajima, though, has been terrible this year and shouldn't even have a job anymore.
Chicago White Sox (+82)
They seem to get by on smoke and mirrors sometimes. Gavin Floyd? John Danks? Jermain Dye? Carlos Quentin? If you look at the roster it seems like this is one of those flukey teams destined to fail in the second half. But, fact is, they have been much more solid than the Twins who only trail them by a game and a half despite a pretty meager run differential (+17). At this point it just can't be a fluke. Sox will roll to the title.
Philadelphia Philles (+81)
Hmm. I am almost hesitant to include them here because of the park they play in. They are awfully inconsistent when I watched them. But, they may have the game's best all around player in Chase Utley, and Howard is only starting to heat up. They're leading their division by only 1.5 games, but I can't see them playing much worse. Although, Mets and Marlins could both be in play here.
Tampa Bay Rays (+53)
The Rays are for real. Nothing flukey about their run differential.
Oakland Athletics (+69)
Their differential has to make them the favorites going forward in the AL West - even with the loss of Harden.
After that there is a mess of teams with positive in differentials which are not too significant. The Yankees, Cardinals, Angels, Blue Jays, Twins, Mets, Brewers, and Braves.
Also, the Diamondbacks have been crappy this year and deserve their shitty record and run differential. But, I thought they were the best team in the NL at the start of the year, and I still think they can make a run with their talent.