For those who have never read my mid-season grades before, I must warn you that I don't use your typical grading scale. I use the Myron Cope grading scale, allow me to explain. The late creator of the Terrible Towel once graded the Pirates back in the '80s, one player at a time. He used 3 grades. If a player was good, he got a rating of MM-HAH! If the player was so-so, or he had no opinion of the player, the rating was EHH. If the player completely stunk, Cope gave him an emphatic FEH! That's the scale we'll use for each team. The teams will be listed alphabetically since this is not rankings. Let's get down to business...
Arizona Diamondbacks (42-43, 3rd NL West): The Snakes have been up and down all season. The defending NL West champs are struggling. It's not terrible, but they're hovering right around the .500 mark. Justin Upton is rumored to be on the trading block, and if he goes, that's the white flag for this season. There's still time to turn things around, but perhaps it'll be better luck next year unless the Dodgers and Giants come back to them...EHH.
Atlanta Braves (46-39 2nd NL East): The Bravos have risen back to the top again, and are tied with the Reds for the Wild Card lead at the break. The Nats are playing lights out ball and that's the only reason the Braves are 2nd in the toughest division in all of baseball. Expect the Braves to keep chugging right along even without Beachy. They'll do everything they can to get one more playoff appearance for Chipper...MM-HAH!
Baltimore Orioles (45-40 2nd AL East): What the hell is this, 1979?! No, that's not a misprint. The O's are tied for the AL Wild Card themselves, but have struggled as of late. Is this team finally coming back to earth, or are they going to continue to defy the odds. Their run differential is still atrocious. Still, consider this, the 2 teams with the longest current losing streaks in baseball would both be in the playoffs if the season ended today, and for that...MM-HAH!
Boston Red Sox (43-43 tied 4th AL East): Bringing up the rear in the insanely competitive AL East are the BoSox...so much for a happy centennial party for Fenway. This team has disappointed all year for how large that payroll is. Injuries have certainly hurt, and Bobby V isn't exactly having a good debut in Boston. If they actually get some players back and healthy, they could contend in the second half, but for now they're lucky to be .500. Because of the expectations...FEH!
Chicago Cubs (33-52 5th NL Central): Theo Epstein said the entire team is for sale. That means a Pirates-style firesale at the deadline. This team will be completely blown apart before July 31st, and Theo will then start from scratch. They're bad, in a 3-way tie for the fewest wins in baseball...FEH!
Chicago White Sox (47-38 1st AL Central): On the South Side it's not the bad part of town this year, it's the good part of town. The "good guys" are leading the AL Central at the break, and it's come behind a new skipper in town, some great pitching, and Adam Dunn hitting at a 40-homer pace again (even though he will still walk away with the strikeout title again). This team will be hard to beat in the 2nd half. The Tigers need to wake up or it'll be the Sox who walk away with the division...MM-HAH!
Cincinnati Reds (47-38 2nd NL Central): This team has it all together. They've been firing on all cylinders, and a 4-5 record against the division leading Pirates is the only thing keeping them from having a huge lead in the division. If they make any moves at the deadline, they'll certainly be buyers, and they'll be in the thick of the race for the division crown until the bitter end...MM-HAH!
Cleveland Indians (44-41 2nd AL Central): They win a few, they lose a few. They're still in range of the division title, but this team has been slightly Jekyll and Hyde. They'll have to put a few good strings together, or they'll just end up finishing as a .500 team. It could get better in the second half or it could get worse. I don't know what to think of this team. Oh I almost forgot to mention, don't expect Asdrubal Cabrera to win a gold glove this year...EHH.
Colorado Rockies (33-52 5th NL West): This team is pretty bad. Tulo is hurt, and that in turn puts and extreme hurtin' on that offense. Jim Tracy's idea of a 4-man rotation is also turning out to be a huge mistake. That rotation desperately needs a 5th pitcher. The Rockies don't show any signs of improvement, and they'll remain as cold as the snow on the mountain tops...FEH!
Detroit Tigers (44-42 3rd AL Central): This team was supposed to run away with the division crown. Instead they've been the most consistently inconsistent team in baseball all season long. They could turn it on at any time, but we're all sitting here waiting for someone to flip the switch. So while Jim Leyland continues to smoke himself into emphysema, we all wonder when that highly-talented roster will start living up to their potential. I'm tempted to give them a FEH, but they do at least have a record over .500, so...EHH.
Continue to page 2 for the next 10 teams.
Houston Astros (33-53 6th NL Central): These Astros aren't quite as inept as last year's mess, but the 50th anniversary season is anything but happy. They're riding a streak of 1-9 into the break, and just got swept in Pittsburgh by the Pirates in a 4-game series. That hasn't happened in 33 years. This team is still going to lose over 90 games again, and they should enjoy their time in the NL this year, because next year it's going to get a hell of a lot worse having to play the Rangers at least 15 times. Yes, Houston, we still have a BIG problem...FEH!
Kansas City Royals (37-47 4th AL Central): The good news is they're not the worst team in their division at the break. The bad news is they're still 10 games under .500 and have the fewest home wins in all of baseball. No words can describe how inept this team is except a very emphatic...FEH!
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (48-38 2nd AL West): This team started off pretty mediocre, but they've caught fire. Pujols has adjusted nicely to playing a couple blocks away from Disneyland, and Mike Trout is the runaway AL ROTY candidate at this point. It looks like it's a 2-horse race again in the AL West, and the Halos are within striking distance of the Rangers...MM-HAH!
Los Angeles Dodgers (47-40 1st NL West): The 50th anniversary of Dodgers Stadium IS a happy one. Despite Matt Kemp's absence, this team is still leading the division, and he's supposed to be back after the break. That could spell trouble for the rest of the NL West. Clayton Kershaw is doing his thing, and that pitching staff has been quite impressive. Ethier's injury hurts, but Kemp will be back. Just a note to Matt Kemp...this is why you DON'T make guarantees before the season starts. Even so, this team still gets a seal of approval...MM-HAH!
Miami Marlins (41-44 4th NL East): They got a new name, new colors, a new stadium with an atrocious aquatic monstrosity in the outfield, the manager and pitcher with the shortest fuse in all of baseball, and they've been up and down like a roller coaster all year. They win a few, they lose a few. Still, this team appears to be a .500 team at best this year, and losing Giancarlo Stanton will only make matters worse. The attendance still stinks, Heath Bell has become a disgrace, and Hanley Ramirez is still an idiot. I'm being nice with this rating...EHH.
Milwaukee Brewers (40-45 4th NL Central): Zack Grienke is on the trading block, Prince Fielder is gone, Jonathan Lucroy has spent time on the DL, and Ryan Braun can't be a one-man show. The Brew-crew will not successfully defend their division title this year. This team is quite different without Prince, and John Axford has been as off the wall as Jose Valverde. I'm sure expectations were high, but this team isn't going anywhere in 2012...EHH.
Minnesota Twins (36-49 5th AL Central): Matt Capps stinks, Joe Mauer hasn't been hitting the long ball, and this team, while they started to win some as of late, still has a lot of holes. The Twins aren't making it this year. Maybe they're still not used to playing all 162 games outdoors nowadays. Just how bad are they? They have the absolute worst run differential in baseball, -87, YIKES! Umm...FEH!
New York Mets (46-40 3rd NL East): The Mets are a pleasant surprise. R.A. Dickey has become a superstar after all these years. David Wright is healthy and is playing like everybody knows he can. This team has impressed, and they even got a no-no that perhaps shouldn't have been a no-no. They also have the most 2-out RBIs in all of baseball, and it's not even close. Watch out for the Mets, this team will be looking to add a couple pieces at the deadline...MM-HAH!
New York Yankees (52-33 1st AL East): Ho-hum, the Yanks lead the division. Ho-hum, they have the best record in baseball. The bullpen has kept leads too, even without the great Mariano in to close. If this team adds anybody, it's going to be scary. Just think how tough they'll be if they start driving in runs WITHOUT the long ball...MM-HAH!
Oakland Athletics (43-43 3rd AL West): They're right on the fence, .500 at the break. This team wins a few, then loses a few. They seem like a team that is just that, mediocre. They're not going to make any noise in the second half, but could somehow end up squeaking out a winning record at the end of the year...EHH.
We'll be right back on page 3 for the final 10 teams after these messages and a word from your local station!
Philadelphia Phillies (37-50 5th NL East): Ryan Howard may be coming back soon, but it's going to be too little too late. Roy Halladay isn't back yet, Cole Hamels is on the trading block, and this team has fallen flat on its face since opening weekend in Pittsburgh. Papelbon has been everything they'd hoped for...the only problem is the Phils can't get to the 9th inning with a lead for him to hold. It's been a rough ride. The hopes for a 6th straight division title are on life support. The fat lady hasn't started singing yet, but she's practicing in the dressing room. Oh how the mighty have fallen...FEH!
Pittsburgh Pirates (48-37 1st NL Central): No, you didn't read that wrong. The Battlin' Bucs have the 2nd best record in the NL at the break. Andrew McCutchen is playing like an MVP. The lineup is finally starting to produce consistently, and the pitching staff has been outstanding. They won 10 of their final 12 games before the break, and will be buyers at the deadline. They also have the best home record in baseball at 29-14. Throw in the fact that this team is perfect when leading after 7 innings, and this could actually be the year the streak finally comes to an end. Do you believe in magic? Baseball is relevant in Pittsburgh again...MM-HAH!
San Diego Padres (34-53 4th NL West): This team is once again terrible. The trade for Mat Latos worked out pretty well for the Reds and not so much the Friars. Carlos Quentin and Chase Headley are on the trading block, and one of them will be moving out before the end of the month. This team needs to rebuild from scratch. How many players will they send away at the deadline? Only one word can describe this team...FEH!
San Francisco Giants (46-40 2nd NL West): The Giants lost 7 of their last 10 heading into the break, but they're still right there atop the division with the Dodgers. The anemia is back in their lineup. The pitching staff is doing well, save Tim Lincecum. This team could be so much better. The lack of hitting may be their demise in the second half. I can't really give this team a stellar grade, but they're certainly not a bad team, so...EHH.
Seattle Mariners (36-51 4th AL West): Congrats Seattle, you're the first AL team with 50 losses! Yeah, this team is pretty inept this year. They're 16.5 games behind the Rangers at the break. Nothing is working for them, and Oliver Perez is not going to help matters, he's still a head case. Better luck next year, Seattle fans...FEH!
St. Louis Cardinals (46-40 3rd NL Central): Tony LaRussa retired, Pujols is gone, Carpenter hasn't even stood on the mound, and this team is still in the midst of the battle for the NL Central crown. They've defied the odds, and are just a half game back in the Wild Card and 2 1/2 back of the Bucs for the division lead. They've impressed so far, and there's no reason to think a team that's been there and done that can't keep it up for the second half too...MM-HAH!
Tampa Bay Rays (45-41 3rd AL East): The Rays have had their ups and downs. Longoria is still hurt, and this team had been on a roller coaster ride to say the least. I'm not sure what to make of them. If they get all their players back, they could compete, but as of right now they look to be middle of the road. They're not back to being the laughing stock, but they're also going to be watching the playoffs from the living room...EHH.
Texas Rangers (52-34 1st AL West): The Rangers are tied with the Yankees for the most wins at the break. I wanna show you my E-Trade Baby shocked face. That's no surprise. Josh Hamilton is doing his thing, and wouldn't you know they have the best run differential in baseball at a +72. This team can hack and pitch, and they appear to be well on their way to another AL West crown unless the Halos can beat them in their head-to-head matchups. Otherwise they're running away with the division again...MM-HAH!
Toronto Blue Jays (43-43 4th AL East): They're a .500 team and that's about where they're going to stay in the second half. Joey Bats is hitting the living hell out of the ball like he always does, but the Jays are going to spend another year in the shadows of the Yankees and Rays, and maybe eventually the BoSox too. They're outspent and outplayed in their division...EHH.
Washington Nationals (49-34 1st NL East): They were projected to be a pleasant surprise, and boy have they been! That pitching staff is scary good, the lineup is producing nearly every night, and I see no signs of the Nats slowing down. Do you believe this? The Bucs and Nats have the 2 best records in the NL at the all-star break...whodathunkit?! 2 years ago they were battling for the #1 draft pick, now they could face each other in the playoffs...MM-HAH!
Did I go wrong with your team or anyone else? Tell me below if you think I did. Will the first half trends continue? Will the teams that were supposed to do well but are struggling find their way? Will the pleasant surprises all fall flat on their faces again? Only time will tell.
Until next time, I'm Bryan Kramer for The Blitzburgh Pit Stop saying enough of the break, let's get back to baseball! It's going to be an exciting second half.
BK over and out