- Baltimore Orioles - 24 wins
- Cleveland Indians - 31 wins
- Pittsburgh Pirates - 27 wins
- Houston Astros - 31 wins
- Arizona Diamondbacks - 31 wins
The Orioles: As mentioned, the Orioles were on a mini-roll before getting buzz sawed by the A's on Wednesday night. The Orioles are currently 26th out of 30 in OPS+ and 27th in runs scored. They are 26th in the league in ERA+. They are 24th in the league in defensive efficiency. But they are 13th in fielding percentage. Roster considerations. Luke Scott, the regular DH and the Orioles' most productive hitter went on the DL with a bad leg. Josh Bell was brought up from the minors to play third moving Tejada (a defensive liability) to DH. Bell has some pop but is iffy when it comes to major league productivity. A big question is whether the team will trade some of their veterans like Millwood and Wiggington. Millwood seems more likely but Wiggington would be more sought after. The team will certainly think twice about trade either as they have a young team with few established players to show them the way. Garrett Atkins was recently let go.
The Pirates: The Pirates have 27 losses and have lost seven of their last ten. But they have won their last two. The team is 23rd in fielding percentage and 27th in defensive efficiency. They are 29th in OPS+ and last in the league in runs scored. The Pirates are also in last place among all 30 teams in ERA+. Roster considerations: The Pirates traded away anyone of value last year and have little left in the way of veterans other teams would want. They have recently called up Pedro Alvarez who is off to a slow start with lots of strikeouts. Another prospect, Jose Tabata, has also started slowly though he has shown patience at the plate. Pitching prospect, Brad Lincoln hasn't been impressive.
The Indians: The Indians are 27th in the league in ERA+ and 19th in OPS+ and 25th in the league in defensive efficiency. The Indians have won five in a row but had lost five in a row before that. Roster considerations: The Indians traded away Russell Branyon with the intention of giving Matt LaPorta a full shot to see what he can do. He hit a three run homer on Thursday night. Carlos Santana seems to be the real deal and is a star catcher in the making. Chances are that Kerry Wood will be traded.
Houston Astros: The Astros have played .500 ball of late but still only have 31 wins for the season. The Astros are last in all of baseball in defensive efficiency. They are also dead last in OPS+. And to complete the trifecta, they are 25th in ERA+. Roster considerations: Unlike all the other teams mentioned so far, there is not much help available in the minors. Chris Johnson is playing now and might be effective. Oswalt and Berkman are solid bets to be traded. If they are, then what will this team have left besides Wandy Rodriguez?
Arizona Diamondbacks: The D-backs are the surprise member of this list. Not much has gone right for this team. They have four regulars in their line up who are in the top 25 in the majors in strikeouts. They are 27th in the league in ERA+. Despite much expectation, they are 20th in the league in OPS+. They are also 26th in the league in defensive efficiency. Roster considerations: Connor Jackson was traded away. Rusty Ryal is not much of a better option. Enright gave the team a good start the other night but walked four in five innings of work. Dontrelle Willis has been a drag on the team and will be released soon it seems.
Conclusion: The Pirates are completely torn down and the team is totally in the hands of youngsters. There is some talent there. They play in a weak division. The Orioles play in the toughest division in baseball but are playing better. The Diamondbacks can hope that the core of Reynolds, Upton and Drew do much better in the second half. The Indians have a legitimate star in Choo and a starting rotation that can keep them in the game. The Astros' fortunes seem to fall on whether Oswalt and Berkman get traded or not. They have the worst counting stats in baseball. Favorites: The Orioles because of their division, the Astros because of their talent.
Others to watch: Royals and Mariners.