July 4th is upon us and it's said that about half the teams in first place on that date go on to win their division. This is an amazing year in that no team leads their division by more than 3.5 games. In the AL Central, three teams are within one game! The first place teams are:
East - New York by 1.5 over Boston and 2.0 over Tampa Bay
Central - Detroit by a percentage point over Minnesota and 1.0 over Chicago
West -Texas by 4.0 over Los Angeles
East -Atlanta by 2.0 over the New York Mets and 5.0 over Philadelphia
Central -Cincinnati by 1.5 over St. Louis
West - San Diego by 3.5 over Los Angeles and 5.0 over Colorado
If I had to pick three of those teams to hold on, I would select the Yankees, San Diego and Texas. I can't say I have a lot faith in Texas because they always seem to play better in the first half of the season and the Angels are awfully good. But they do have solid pitching and Vlad Guerrero is with them and not with the Angels, so I think they might be able to do it this year.
Regardless of all that, I think the Yankees are pretty much a lock for the AL Pennant unless Boston can add a difference making starting pitcher. Tampa Bay got off to such a good start and beat up on the Yankees (as well as everyone else) and they have the experience having been to the 2008 World Series. It's a shame that one of those three teams is going to miss the payoffs altogether as any one of them could win the World Series if they got there.
I'm not sure it matters who wins the N.L. Pennant because they're going to lose the Series in five games. Philadelphia is the logical choice but Chase Utley is out for up to eight weeks, their stars players aren't producing and Roy Halladay's record is surprisingly mediocre thanks to the appalling lack of run support. I think it's a mistake to discount the Dodgers and with the pitching the Padres have, they are always a contender. Just for the fun of it, I'm going to pick San Diego to win the NL Pennant this year.