Alright the All Star Game is over.  The American League has home field advantage for like the 70th (11th) time in the last 14 years and as we all know, homefield advantage actually does mean something in baseball as the team playing home has won six of the last seven World Series.

So now today, during the most boring week in sports I will give you my predictions for the second half of the baseball season.  I’m talking division winners, wild cards and some dark horses to keep an eye on.  We’ll start things off in the American League East.

AL East

Alright so the Rays are dead and the Yankees need to sweep the Sox this weekend to make people say “hey the Yanks are still alive” and even then they’re still probably dead.  Best case scenario for the Yankees (from a Red Sox fan) is that they make a little run these next couple weeks, decide they are not sellers at the trade deadline and thus not get younger and then inevitably collapse in August and September.

That leaves the AL East up to a three horse race with the O’s, Sox and Jays.  The absolutely craziest part about this is that the Blue Jays, the team with the fucking Blue Jays are the best pitching team out of the three.  The O’s and Sox are in the bottom half of the league in ERA (16th and 18th respectively) and WHIP (Sox 16th, O’s 23rd), a stat that I personally put find very indicative of a pitcher or pitching staff.

However, offensively the Red Sox have statistically the best offense in the league based on OPS.  The Orioles are second and the Blue Jays are 6th.  You could make the argument that the Jays are the most complete team out of the three.  It’s also important to note that the Blue Jays have done this well offensively with minimal help from Tulo.  If he gets going, watch the fuck out.

The Red Sox and Orioles both need help pitching, both in the starting rotation and in their bullpen.  The O’s could use another big arm set-up man as well as a starter, and the Sox, with Kimbrel tearing his goddamn meniscus will have to play the waiting game.  Once he is back, I do like the back end of Koji, Ziegler and Kimbrel and even Tazawa if he can turn it around.  If I had to guess, both teams will be eying a starter at the deadline, though I don’t think any big named pitchers like Sale or Jose Fernandez will be on the move.  In my opinion, I feel that the Sox would be more likely to land a difference making starter than the Orioles, partly because who wouldn’t want to come to Boston and mostly because Dave Dombrowski is aggressive.

In the end I think the final standings for the AL East will go: 1st place Blue Jays, 2nd place Red Sox, 3rd place Orioles.

AL Central

Alright now the AL Central which has been a really interesting division all year long.  People were thinking Kansas City for obvious reasons, Detroit because it’s hard to believe they have that much talent and wouldn’t be successful and then picked the Indians and White Sox as their dark horses.  The White Sox got off to a scorching start, but have come back to earth.  Detroit has just kind of been there all season long and lately the Indians have been the red hot team in the division.

Well if I had to guess, I’d say those goddamn, pesky Royals are going to make a run.  They finished the first half of the season in the middle of the pack both hitting and pitching, but they have a lot of recent experience in late season and post season success.  They may not get all the way to the top, but they will certainly make a nice run.

The White Sox and Tigers I think will end up being the odd men out here.  Since the first few weeks of the season the White Sox have been an average at best team.  I predict that they’ll probably end up around .500.  The Tigers will just keep playing how they’re playing and end up third in the division.

Which leaves the AL Central to a two horse race between the Indians and the Royals.  The Indians have the better team.  They hit well and most importantly, they pitch well.  I think the Indians win the division and the Royals finish second.

AL west

About two weeks ago, when Miller and I recorded our first episode of Keeping Score at Home, I said the Astros were a team I did not like.  Well fuck me, they went on a nice run since then and are right back in the thick of things.

The reason I said the Astros were a team I did not like is quite simply because I thought they overachieved last year.  They were a good young team that just played above expectations.  I felt like they took a step “back” this year, but the step back was basically just what was expected of them.  However, this is a team that is able to go on a run.  Altuve, Correa and Springer are pretty fucking nice to have at the top of your lineup but after that there’s really not a whole lot offensively.  They are a top ten team in pitching though and have on the whole pitched better than the Rangers all year.

The Rangers have been a nice surprise this year.  They’ve been hitting the ball well and have been able to win the close game.  I still stand by this idea that they need to figure out a way to get Joey Gallo in the lineup.  The dude can rake.  Put him at a corner in the outfield, but somehow get his bat in the lineup and I think that takes the team from decent to good.

The Mariners I would not necessarily count out yet.  They’ve been holding their own and have not had Felix Hernandez since May.  If he comes back as King Felix, this is a team to look out for.  His pitching doesn’t necessarily affect the team once every five days, but he’s a guy that the pitching staff can rally around.

Final Predictions: 1st Rangers, 2nd Mariners, 3rd Astros

By the way, what the hell happened to the Angels?

So your playoff teams in the American League are: Blue Jays, Indians, Rangers.  Wildcards are Red Sox and Royals.  Dark Horse – Mariners

NL East

Alright let’s swing over to the NL East where this, like the AL East is a three horse race because the Phillies, while overachieving don’t have the fire power and the Braves STINK.  We got the Nats, Mets and surprise Marlins.  Everything is pointing to the Nationals winning this division.  They are healthy other than Zimmerman, but he hasn’t hit at all this year.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the platoon him and Clint Robinson when Zim is back.  However, let’s not forget that the Nationals were the favorite to not only win the division, but the World fucking Series last year and they collapsed.  We’ve seen teams collapse multiple years in a row (Mets, Red Sox) in recent history but if the Nats stay healthy and keep playing good baseball, they’ll win the division.

The Mets have been weird this year.  First and foremost, they still need a consistent bat in that lineup.  Reyes has done alright since he’s been back and has even shown some pop and if Duda can come back and at least not strike out 7 times a game, we might actually have a capable lineup.  The only thing with the Mets is that every time one of their prized pitchers throw, it’s like you’re walking on eggshells.  Mets fans are just waiting for Thor or Matz or deGrom or even Familia to get hurt and be out for a long time.  If they lose any of those guys, it’s over.

The Marlins are probably my dark horse in the NL.  I have a feeling Giancarlo Stanton figured it out and is about to have a monster second half of the season.  I saw him play in that series against the Mets before the All Star break and he was locked in.  His approach was better than it had been and he was seeing the ball extremely well.  Yelich, Ozuna and Stanton might be the best offensive outfield in the league and it’s not too shabby defensively either.  If Stanton does figure it out, he is a guy that can carry a team on a team that is already pretty good.

Final prediction: 1st Nats, 2nd Marlins 3rd Mets

NL Central

The NL Central isn’t what it has been the last couple years.  Quite frankly, this is the Cubs division to lose.  The Pirates need pitching.  They are hitting alright, but not consistently enough.  The Cardinals are the Cardinals and can always make a run, but for whatever reason I feel like the Cards in almost in a mini-transitional period right now.  They’re pretty young and while they do have experienced vets on the team with Holiday and Molina, my gut tells me that they just don’t have “it” this year.

Prediction: Cubs win division

NL West

Obviously the only two teams in the NL West that are in the midst are the Giants and Dodgers.  D-Backs greatly underperformed this year and the Padres and Rockies always are terrible.  The Giants have a really nice team.  Posey, Duffy, Crawford and Belt are having great years.  Their outfield of Revere, Pagan and Blanco is very solid and they’re playing this well without Hunter Pence or Joe Panik.  If they get either or both of those guys back, this is a really really fucking good team.

Then you look at their pitching and it’s even better.  Johnny Cueto is pitching his balls off and he might not even be the best guy on the staff (MadBum).  On to of that, my boy Jeff Samardzija is having a great bounce back year.  Oh and it’s an even year.

The Dodgers are also playing really good this year, but need a little more consistency behind Kershaw in the rotation.  If he stays hurt for any extended period of time, they are obviously going to be in some trouble.  I like the lineup though and Corey Seager is one of the best young shortstops in the league and he probably should have started the All Star game.  A-Gon will always hit and it still baffles me that Justin fucking Turner is actually a really good hitter in this league.

Prediction: 1st Giants, 2nd Dodgers

So your National League playoff teams are:Nationals, Cubs, Giants. Wildcards: Marlins (they’re my dark horse) and Dodgers.  The NL pitching is sick.