Thursday, August 20, 2009

American League East Update

Are the Yankees the best team in the Major Leagues? Right now, according to their record, it appears so. With a seven game lead over Boston, the Yankees are poised to win the toughest Division title in all of the American League. Derek Jeter, perennial superstar, is 5th in the American League in batting average (.331). Teammate Mark Teixeira is tied for the lead in the home run category with 31. With more wins than any other team in the majors, the Yankees are the team to beat.

That’s not all that is going right for the Yankees, New York also has the widest margin for a lead in their division: 7 games. They’ve won 7 of their last 10 games, and they have the best home field record of any team in the majors.

The rebirth of the Red Sox cannot be underestimated, though. David Ortiz is finally showing signs of life after an atypical horrendous first half of the season. Over the last four games, he has been hitting .455. Compare that to his season average (.224)- it’s no secret that Big Papi is finally back in the swing of things. Rumors of his performance-enhancing drug charges aside, Ortiz is starting to look like the man who set a Red Sox record for home runs in a season back in 2006.

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The departure of John Smoltz is another key factor in the Red Sox’s renewal. The struggling 42 year old is only 2-5 for the season with an ERA of 8.33. Smoltz was released earlier in August and was picked up by the Cardinals. The removal of Smoltz clears up some room for other starters. Tim Wakefield, although injured at the present, will be a major factor upon his return. The same is true for Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Some things have been consistently great for the Sox, especially Jason Bay. 8th in the League for home runs (27), Bay is having the best season of his career. If the Red Sox can make the postseason, Bay will most likely be the man to watch out for. Josh Beckett is pitching well, too. With 14, he is tied for the lead in the league for wins with the Yankees’ CC Sabathia. Beckett (3.38), however, has a lower ERA than Sabathia (3.58). Jon Lester and Beckett are both ahead of Sabathia when it comes to strikeouts as well. What does this mean? When the Sox are hot, they are going to out pitch the Yankees. This did not show in the Yankees recent sweep of the Sox though.

Will there be another Yankees-Red Sox match up in the postseason? You can count on it. The Red Sox, at least in recent years, have performed extraordinarily well under pressure. With a mediocre mid-season showing, the Red Sox are in desperate need of a turn around. They are playing well at just the right time. As far as the AL champion is concerned, it’s still too early to tell. The luck of either team in this last part of the season can change at any time and it doesn’t matter who has the best record when it comes to the postseason. It’s the team with the best momentum that is going to go on to the World Series.

Written By Matthew Young