Tight squeeze: MLB races stay tight as second half kicks off

07/17/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak

Coming out of the All-Star break, there's definitely excitement due to some very tight division races. First and second place in four of the six divisions are separated by less than 4 games. The gap is less than 3 games in three of those divisions. That should make for some great baseball in the second half of the season. So let's take a look around MLB and see where things are at coming out of the break.
The tightest division race is in the AL West, where Anaheim holds a 1/2 game lead over Houston. A big reason for the Angels lead is the Astros lost their final 6 games heading into the All-Star break, while Anaheim won 7 of their final 10. Another reason has been the hitting of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, who lead the American League and are tied for 2nd in MLB with 26 home runs each. For the Astros, it's been the rise of Dallas in Houston. Dallas Keuchel is 2nd in MLB and tied for tops in the AL with 11 wins. His 2.23 ERA is 2nd best in the American League as well. The Astros are currently sitting in the 2nd Wild Card position as well.
The AL East is the tightest division in the majors. The New York Yankees have the lead, 3.5 games ahead of Tampa, 4 games in front of Baltimore, and 4.5 ahead of Toronto. Even last place Boston is only 6.5 games back. Mark Teixeira has powered the Yankees to the division lead. Teixeira is 4th in the American League with 22 home runs. His 62 RBI's are tops in the AL and 4th most in MLB.

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In the AL Central, Kansas City holds a 4.5 game lead over Minnesota. Both teams success playing at home is why they're the top 2 teams in the division. Minnesota's 31 home wins are the most in the American League, while Kansas City's 30 home wins are second most. The Royals defense has been MLB's finest and is a big part of the reason why they're in the lead despite not having any major hitting or pitching stat leaders. For the Twins, when they have a late game lead, they've closed it out. Glen Perkins 28 saves are the most in the AL, and are 2nd best in MLB. The Twins right now are also sitting in the top Wild Card spot in the American League as well.
In the National League, the most exciting race is one that wasn't much of a race a few weeks ago. St. Louis held a 9 game lead in the NL Central, but Pittsburgh has cut it to just 2.5 games by winning 13 of their final 16 games heading into the All Star break, including winning 3 of 4 versus the Cardinals in their last series before the break. The Pirates are tied with the second most home wins in the NL and MLB with 32. The Cardinals are tied for third in both the NL and MLB with 31 wins at home. Pittsburgh has some of the best pitching in the majors. Gerrit Cole leads MLB with 13 wins, while Mark Melancon leads all closers with 29 saves. Cole's 2.30 ERA is 5th best in the bigs, while A.J. Burnett's 2.11 ERA is tied for 2nd lowest in the NL and 3rd lowest in MLB. St. Louis has MLB's best record, while Pittsburgh has the 2nd most wins with 53. And the 3rd place Chicago Cubs are sitting in the 2nd Wild Card spot. It's safe to say this is the best division in baseball right now.
The race in the NL East is close as well, with Washington holding a 2 game lead over the New York Mets. The Mets came into the break hot, winning 7 of their last 10 games. They also have the 2nd most home wins in MLB with 32. The Nationals have been led by Bryce Harper, who's .339 batting average is 3rd highest in the majors. Harper's 61 RBI's are tied for 5th most in baseball, and his 26 home runs are tied for 2nd most. Washington has gotten it done on the mound as well, with Max Scherzer's 10 wins being tied for 4th most in MLB. He's also 4th in MLB with 150 strikeouts. Scherzer's 2.11 ERA is tied for 2nd lowest in the NL and 3rd lowest in MLB. Right behind him is the Mets Jacob deGrom, who's 2.14 ERA is 5th best in the majors.
In the NL West, it's Los Angeles in the lead, 4.5 games ahead of San Francisco. The Dodgers 33 home wins are the most in baseball. LA's pitching has been the biggest factor for their success. Zach Greinke leads MLB with a 1.39 ERA, while Clayton Kershaw's 160 strikeouts are the most in baseball. The Giants have been led by the bats of Nori Aoki and Buster Posey. Aoki's .317 batting average is 5th highest in the NL, while Posey's .314 average is 6th best. Posey is also 5th in the NL with 58 RBI's.
With the division races this tight, the rest of the 2015 MLB season is shaping up to have some exciting pennant chases that more than likely will come down to the wire.

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