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It was painful to write a full breakdown of the lesser league earlier today, this one is going to be fun. Without further adieu, here's the American League. We'll start with the best division in baseball.

A.L. East

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Boston Red Sox: At least the Sox can take solace in the fact that this year's collapse won't be the worst in franchise history. The Yanks came from further behind to beat them in 1978. This team could do no wrong for the first three months of the year. Maybe their heads got swollen, maybe the baseball gods decided to even things out. Who knows why it happened, I'm just glad it did. Two off season acquisitions have come back to haunt the Sox, Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew. It's funny that all you hear about from the MSM is the bad moves the Yanks have made, no one metions Drew's pitiful numbers. That's neither here nor there. This team isn't playing horrible ball, but they are quickly sliding back to the pack. Their run differential is great (+129) second only to the Yanks (+163). No one thinks Eric Gagne is as bad as he's pitched since being traded to Boston (4 innings, 10 hits, 7 earned runs), but who knows how long this stretch of horrible pitching will go on? Prediction: Flip a three-sided coin to see who wins the Wild Card between Seattle, Cleveland and Boston. (I just did, and it's not Boston).

New York Yankees: The Yanks have shaved 10 games off their largest deficit, and they're playing the best ball in the league. You can't argue that fact. They're currently tied for the Wild Card, and 4 games behind the Sox for the East (with 6 games left head-to-head). They're winning this division. If you think otherwise, keep in mind what happened when the Yankees went up to Fenway for a five-game set late last year. The Yanks have the perfect antidote to a late-Summer letdown, youth. Phil Hughes is showing everyone why he was ranked as the best pitching prospect in the minors. Joba Chamberlain is doing what Boston thought Gagne would do. Melky is energizing the team and playing the hell out of center field. Oh yeah, they also have the MVP, who is getting a wee bit hot just at the right time. It's no longer a matter of if the Yanks will pass the Sox, the only question is whether they'll do it before the two teams meet up at the end of the month. Here's a fun fact for you: Bobby Abreu's power numbers in July and August: 7 HR, 43 RBI. J.D. Drew's power numbers for the entire season: 6 HR, 44 RBI. Prediction: Yankees win the division, battle LAA for home field in the playoffs.

Toronto Blue Jays: Not quite there, and moving further away. The free agent signings this team has made over the past couple of years (Glaus, Frank Thomas, A.J. Burnett, B.J. Ryan) have not panned out. They're bloated, and old. Vernon Wells, Alex Rios and Halladay are stars, the rest of the roster, not so much. They fade from contention.

Baltimore Orioles (not quite there), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (never will be.)

A.L. Central (aka the division nobody wants to win, part 2)

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Detroit Tigers: This division is going to come down to the handsome young man pictured above (on the left). Magglio Ordonez is having a career year. The young pitching is up and down. Joel Zumaya may or may not come back. None of that matters. This team will only go as far as Gary Sheffield can carry them. Without Sheff, they're an undisciplined, free-swinging group of hackers at the plate. A pitcher can shut down a team like that on any given night. With Sheff, they're a legit playoff team. That being said, Sheff is back from his injury, and the team is still playing like they desperately want to watch the playoffs on TV. Prediction: The Tigers do just enough to win this division, mainly by default.

Cleveland Indians: Much like the Cubs, the Indians puzzle me. They should be better than this. They should be winning friggin' games. Instead, they're playing "We can lose more games than you can," with the Tigers. Their lineup should be producing more than it is. They have 1 ace (Sabathia), one ace in the making (Carmona) a solid #3 (Westbrook) and a decent #4 (Byrd). Why aren't they better? What's with this team? I have no idea, maybe it's the piss-poor defense they play. Prediction: They've gone ice cold at the worst possible time. They don't make the playoffs.

Minnesota Twins: The M&M brothers have come back down to Earth. They can't score any runs. Even with the best starter in the game (Johan) and a great rookie (Garza), I still don't see them challenging for the Wild Card.

Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals: Horrible, horrible teams. Have you ever seen a team get old as quickly as the White Sox?

A.L. West

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Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: This team was struggling to score runs early in the year. They didn't have anything on offense beyond Vlad. That all changed in June when Chone Figgins caught fire. Caught fire doesn't even begin to describe how hot this guy has been. In June he hit .461 with an OPS of 1.047. In July he hit .351 with an .842 OPS. So far in August the numbers are .385 ave, .913 OPS. Unreal numbers, and he's pushed this team to the second best record in the Majors. Prediction: No one catches the Angels in the West. They battle the Yanks for best record in the league and home field advantage.

Seattle Mariners: The Mariners have a closer, a center fielder, and not much else. I don't know how they're leading the Wild Card race, but they are. Just like the Diamondbacks in the N.L., if I can't begin to understand something, I won't question it. Prediction: Seattle wins the Wild Card.

Oakland A's: It seems like this is the year Oakland's second-half magic won't bail them out. They started bad, they're going to finish worse.

Texas Rangers: They got good value for Teixeira, bad value for Gagne. On the field, they suck.
by Brian on Aug 13 2007
Tags: Chone Figgins | Gary Sheffield |