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With the MLB season reaching its quarter-way mark, the American League divisional races are starting to take shape. The AL’s best teams are starting to create a gap at the top of each division while the worst teams have 120 games or so left to atone for their dismal first quarters of the season.
In the AL East, the New York Yankees sit ahead of the Baltimore Orioles by two games and the Boston Red Sox by three games. The Yankees have typically occupied this spot for the last decade, but this year is different. Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriquez and Mark Teixeira haven’t even stepped on the field this season and Curtis Granderson only recently made his first start. So how exactly is this happening?
Robinson Cano is a big reason for the Yankees early success. He leads the team with a batting average of .306, 10 home runs and 25 RBIs. Newcomer, Vernon Wells is also off to a good start. In fact he hasn’t played this well since 2008. He’s currently batting .300 with nine home runs and 22 RBIs. It must be something about wearing the pinstripes that brings out the best in some players.
Speaking of the best, the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera is one of, if not, the best hitters in MLB. Last year, he won the Triple Crown and this year, he’s on pace to do it all over again. Batting .375 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs, he leads the Tigers in every major batting category except home runs (Prince Fielder has nine). Cabrera is one of a few reasons that the Tigers sit atop the AL Central by 1.5 games over the Cleveland Indians.
Another reason is in fact five reasons. It’s the Tigers’ starting rotation, which includes the likes of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello. Combined, these studs lead the league in WHIP, are second in BAA and rank third in ERA and Quality Starts. Great hitting and amazing pitching is a recipe that seems to be working for these Tigers.
The Texas Rangers have a similar recipe on the stove and it’s made for some good ole’ southern cooking. They’re 7-3 in their last 10 games and have created a sizeable six-game lead over the Oakland Athletics. Similar to the Tigers, the Rangers are getting it done on the mound and at the plate.
Their pitching staff is led by the incomparable Yu Darvish who leads MLB with 80 strikeouts (next on the list is A.J. Burnett of the Pittsburgh Pirates with 72) in only 52.2 innings. Overall, Rangers’ pitching has them ranked sixth in ERA, WHIP and BAA in MLB.
These Rangers also know how to put bat on ball. As a team, they rank second in slugging percentage, third in batting average, ninth in on base percentage and 11th in runs scored. Maybe that’s why they’re 11 games over .500 and appear to be running away with the AL West crown.