American League First Half Report Cards

AMERICAN LEAGUE FIRST-HALF REPORT CARDS

By Jim Hurley:

Here's - what we think - is an interesting question as Major-League Baseball plays out the final weekend of action before next Tuesday's All-Star Game: Would you rather have the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees as an "entry" to get to this year's World Series ...or everyone else in the American League? Hmmm.

No doubt the Sawx and Yanks would appear to be the true class of the so-called junior circuit this 2011 season but defending champion Texas, the on-charging Los Angeles Angels and the survivor of Cleveland or Detroit in the AL Central all must be considered "live" come October.

Hey, we'll give you a few weeks to come up with your answer, alright?

Meanwhile, our theme here today is the AL and it's time for the unofficial first-half Report Cards and we'll delve into that always-juicy topic shortly plus remind you we'll hand out the National League Report Cards in the next edition of Jim Sez ...we know, we know: Can't wait!

And now hear this: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers release Major-League Baseball Winners each/every day and you can be part of all the action -- just remember to call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here and make sure you're all aboard for a summer filled with all our MLB winners! The calling/check-in times are after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays; anytime after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball action; and than anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the weeknight action. Now go ahead and pile up all your summertime Baseball winners! Keep in mind we'll have the Side & Totals of next Tuesday's All-Star Game from Arizona when you check in game-day afternoon after 1 p.m. ET. Got it?

 

THE AMERICAN LEAGUE REPORT CARDS

Editor's Note: We're not about to bog down this quick-hitter column with a whole bunch of stats - go on mlb.com or some other site if you want to study all the individual stats - as here we shoot from the proverbial hip and we remind you that we consider ourselves "tough markers" here at Jim Sez:

GRADE: A+

CLEVELAND (47-39) - Okay, so there have been some recent dips in the road for the Indians but Thursday night's wild comeback win (featuring Travis Hafner's grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning) has been more like it and so Manny Acta's club gets the one-and-only "A+" in the pack here and isn't it something how Asdrubal Cabrera and Orlando Cabrera have turned themselves into the most productive middle infield in all the major leagues?


GRADE: A

BOSTON (52-35) - The best record in the AL wasn't achieved without a fight as the Red Sox staggered out of the starting gate but RHP Josh Beckett has been a real rock and 1B Adrian Gonzalez is the runaway leader in the league's MVP balloting and the scary thing is his oppo-field swing is even better than Bosox brass could have imagined!


GRADE: B+

SEATTLE (43-45) - Keep in mind the Mariners had an over/under price of 70 wins at season's start and so Eric Wedge's crew has greatly exceeded expectations even though RF Ichio Suzuki has been a real dud. Maybe kid RHP Michael Pineda already has proven to be the best AL "second-fiddle" guy behind 2010 Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez.

NEW YORK YANKEES (51-35) - Must admit that the Bombers' recent slide (lost four of the last five games following Thursday's sour 5-1 home setback versus Tampa Bay) got us to plunge NYY one full grade here and we would be handing out an even worse mark had not CF Curtis Granderson (25 HRs) not stepped up and shown he's one of the five most valuable bats in the league right here and right now.

TAMPA BAY (49-39) - If only the Rays could play all their games away from stuffy Tropicana Field (see 28-18 away) than Joe Maddon's guys would be in line for an "A" but it's truly amazing that this club is double digits over .500 at press time even though LHP David Pride has not been great but than who knew that closer Kyle Farnsworth would be a Mariano Rivera-like clone in the first three-plus months of the season?


GRADE: B

TEXAS (48-41) - Consider the Rangers one of the more perplexing teams in the AL as skipper Ron Washington's done well to hold the ship together when OFs Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz were hurt but there are times when last year's champs play sloppy ball and beat themselves. No doubt this little recent stretch that included a three-game sweep over Baltimore has the Rangers on the right track.

LOS ANGELES ANGELS (47-42) - Here's another AL West team that has put the jet-pack on its backs (see 8-2 in last 10 games) but than again didn't we all believe the pitching-rich Halos would be playing .528 ball (or better) at this stage of the season? Meanwhile, you just have to love the night-in and night-out energy from CF Peter Bourjos who seemingly makes a wall-crashing catch every game.
 
DETROIT (47-42) - Just want to say that RHP Justin Verlander not only deserves the Cy Young award at this stage but he should garner some MVP votes too considering how he's been the lead wheel on this oft-leaky staff. The Tigers are getting what they hoped for from 1B/DH Miguel Cabrera but isn't C Victor Martinez one of the league's true unsung heroes so far? Just nod yes.


GRADE: C+

MINNESOTA (39-47) - Maybe you feel the first half of this 2011 season has been an utter waste for the Twinkies but consider the injuries to C Joe Mauer and 1B Justin Morneau and Minny's right about where it should be. Nothing great, but not the abject failure everyone's tryin' to make ‘em!


GRADE: C

TORONTO (42-47) - Maybe slugger Jose Bautista still doesn't draw enough attention on a national stage but overall this North of the Border squad is plain average so far in 2011 with the starting pitching on the shabby side and the bullpen having already blown 10 saves. Ugh!

BALTIMORE (36-49) - Everyone on planet Earth knows the Orioles have the dubious distinction of playing in baseball's toughest division but must we see a meltdown every single season (see 9-of-10 losses heading into Friday's game in Boston)? Maybe RHP Jeremy Guthrie - an 11-game loser - really does need a change of scenery.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX (43-46) - If Chisox 1B Paul Konerko didn't show the pop he has so far in '11, than Ozzie Guillen's gang would be fighting for crumbs at the bottom of the AL Central. Folks, we're being generous with the "C" grade here considering the travails of DH Adam Dunn and LHP John Danks (an 8-game loser who took forever to gain his first win).


GRADE: D

OAKLAND (39-50) - Did you realize that the A's had a spring training over/under price of 83 ½ wins and so far it is fair to say this offensively-challenged team has been a bitter disappointment.

KANSAS CITY (36-52) - And to think that the Royals burst out of the starting gate this year and were one of the league's real feel-good stories for the first three or four weeks. Closer Joakim Soria has five blown saves and temporarily lost his job even though he's a former All-Star.

NOTE; There is more MLB News & Notes in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez as we creep closer to next week's All-Star Game. Get our NL Report Cards hot off the presses!

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