The Los Angeles Dodgers have yet to hit their best stride but they’re my pick to win the 2014 World Series.
The fourth-place Pittsburgh Pirates are my choice to win the National League Central.
In American League East, I expect the Baltimore Orioles to win comfortably in the East and AL West powers Oakland and the Los Angeles Angels to finish with the two-best records in the league.
Here are my revised final standings:
Baltimore 88-74. The Orioles have easily the best lineup in the division and enough pitching to hold off the flawed competition…Have regained the knack of winning close games: 17-13 in one-run games and 9-3 in extra innings…Lack of top-line pitching figures to make for a short run in the postseason...MLB-fewest 26 stolen bases.
Tampa Bay 83-79. The Rays are getting healthier…Lack the overwhelming talent to catch the Orioles…Would run up the white flag by trading ace David Price.
Toronto – 82-80. The Blue Jays scare opposing teams with their bats. MLB-most 116 HRs…Unfortunately, Toronto’s pitchers scare their own fans…Not exactly Team Fundamental.
New York Yankees – 79-83. They’re lucky to be .500 (47-47)…18-23 home record is particularly embarrassing…Counted too much on too many aging players. Paying the price now…GM Brian Cashman has to make some moves but there isn’t much talent out there and the Yankees don’t have much to offer in trade.
Boston – 78-84. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington says the front office is not giving up on the season just yet. So just when?...Jacoby Ellsbury hasn’t been awesome for the Yankees but the Red Sox sure miss him...With every loss, the 2013 World Series championship seems all the more amazing.
Detroit – 93-69. Not a great team but much the best in a relatively weak division…Bullpen leaves much to be desired but starting pitching and power makes the Tigers the AL team most likely to win the 2014 World Series.
Kansas City 83-79. This was supposed to be the turnaround season. It won’t be…Lack of offense has been disappointing...MLB-fewest 55 HRs…Excellent bullpen.
Cleveland – 79-83. Overachieved last season…Terry Francona continues to prove he’s a top-notch manager. He doesn’t have a lot to work with here.
Chicago White Sox – 74-88. Where would they be without Jose Abreu (29 HRs, 73 RBI)?
Minnesota – 74-88. The worst is over but the rebuilding Twins still are at least two seasons away from playoff contention.
Oakland – 94-68. Built for the long haul of the regular season. Depth won’t be so significant in the postseason…MLB-best +1245 run differential (second-best Los Angels are +89).
Los Angeles Angels – 92-70. A very dangerous team… Lead MLB in runs (478)…My projected Angels vs. Tigers ALCS would be very interesting.
Seattle – 83-79. One big bat short of being a very good team…2B Robinson Cano merits MVP consideration…Holding opponents to MLB-low .226 batting average.
Houston – 71-91. Impressive strides this season. Should continue to improve.
Texas – 68-94. Decimated by injuries…Opponents are hitting MLB-high .285 against them…Major rebound expected next season.
Washington—92-70. Finally getting healthy. A really dangerous team – no matter if or when brittle Bryce Harper wakes up (.244, 2 HRs, 11 RBI in 34 games)…Solid lineup top-to-bottom...+61 run differential best in the National League… MLB 3.08 ERA.
Atlanta – 88-74. Better team on paper than on the field.
New York Mets – 76-86. Mets fans are optimistic about the near future. Don’t see why...Trying to trade Bartolo Colon. I don’t blame them.
Miami – 75-87. Loss of young ace Jose Fernandez ruined the season.
Philadelphia – 72-90. A shell of what was a very good team.
Pittsburgh – 89-73. I have a hunch about this team. Best young outfield in MLB.
Cincinnati – 85-77. Tough team to figure. Needed Joey Votto to be healthy and at his best. He hasn’t been.
Milwaukee – 84-78. Miss the old Ryan Braun. What is he missing?
St. Louis – 83-79. Not likely to keep up minus injured Yadier Molina…Second-fewest runs (360) in MLB…Disappointing power (60 HRs) and poor team speed.
Chicago Cubs –68-94. Brighter days seems ages away.
Los Angeles Dodgers – 91-71. I think this super-talented team will close fast…Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu are the three main reasons I think the Dodgers will go all the way.
San Francisco – 87-75. Can’t ever count this resourceful bunch out.
Colorado – 76-86. Rockies will be dangerous if they ever get completely healthy. That probably won’t be this season.
Arizona 72-90. Spotted the field too much ground.
San Diego 71-91. Pitching is no joke but hitting is hilariously awful…MLB-low .214 BA on pace for worst since 1968 Yankees…MLB-fewest 279 runs.
The Rochester have the best record in Major League Lacrosse after last night’s 10-7 win at the Chesapeake Bayhawks. The first-place Rattlers are 8-3 with three games remaining in the regular season. They won Thursday night with four of their top five scorers missing (playing in the FIL World Lacrosee Championships)…Rochester has won three straight road games and is 3-3 on the road this season (5-0 at Sahlen’s Stadium). The other seven MLL teams are a combined 9-26 on the road.
NFL.com Media Analyst Bucky Brooks this week picked his “10 most dynamic safeties in the NFL today.” Aaron Williams of the Buffalo Bills is No. 10. Former Bills star Jairus Byrd (New Orleans) is No. 4. The top three: 1—Earl Thomas (Seattle), 2--Eric Berry (Kansas City), 3-Antrel Rolle (NY Giants).
2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Mucho Macho Man has been retired to stud at age 6. He won 9 times in 25 starts and earned $6,625,410.
The Los Angeles Dodger, with five healthy outfielders, are listening to offers for unhappy outfielder Matt Kemp, who wants to be traded to a team he could start every game in center field. The New York Yankees could afford his contract ($107 million left through 2019)but they have a better CF in Jacoby Ellsbury.
I don’t believe Kobe Bryant and new Los Angeles Lakers teammate Carlos Boozer are going to have great chemistry this season. They both love to shoot the basketball…I wonder if Kobe is in denial. Or does he realize how lousy the Lakers are going to be?
Sign of the times: The only baseball player among the “10 most popular male athletes in America” (a Harris poll released this week) is Derek Jeter at No. 3. And that’s mainly because he is retiring. The top 10: LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Jeter, Peyton Manning, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kobie Bryant (tied for 5th), Tom Brady, Tiger Woods, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.