Reiter: MLB Is "Have And Have-Not"

Forget the standings. Division winners are easy to identify, even in June

Ferrall On The Bench
June 08, 2018 - 6:02 am

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There’s still a long way to go in the MLB season, but Sports Illustrated senior writer Ben Reiter believes that many of the division races have already been decided, including the AL West, where the Astros (36-22) have a one-game lead over the Mariners (34-22).

“This Astros team, I know they don’t have the best record in the AL right now, but they are much better than they were last year,” Reiter said on Ferrall on the Bench. “It’s a scary team right now.”

Reiter is the author of “Astroball,” which is due out July 10. The book explains how Houston went from laughingstock to World Series champion.

The Astros, though, have lost five of seven to the New York Yankees (35-17), who have the second-best record in baseball but still trail the Red Sox (39-18) by one-and-a-half games in the AL East.

“Clearly the league is have and have-not, especially in the AL,” Reiter said. “You’ve got the three super-teams right now, and then everybody else is kind of a in a three-way tournament in the American League.”

In the NL, meanwhile, Reiter fully expects the Cubs (30-23) to overcome their four-game deficit against Milwaukee (36-21) in the NL Central.

“Completely,” he said. “I think there’s a good chance the Cubs are the best team in the National League, actually.”

The Cubs have an NL-best plus-82 run differential, while the Brewers are plus-34.

“So not even half of the Cubs’ run differential, and it hasn't ever seemed like the Cubs have even kicked it into gear yet, especially with their pitching staff – and they’re still that good,” Reiter said. “The bullpen is strong, and obviously the offense, we know what that is. The Cubs are clearly still the team to beat. I know the Brewers have a great bullpen, but you look at that rotation and you just wonder how long that thing can hold up over the next four months.”

Out West, the Dodgers (26-30) have a four-game deficit of their own to overcome, only there are three teams ahead of them, not one.

No matter. Reiter fully expects the Dodgers to win the division.

“No one in the West is scary,” Reiter said. “The Rockies aren’t a legitimate first-place team. The Dodgers have played as badly as they could the first two months, and here they are right in the thing. It would still be a shock if they don’t win the division.”