Dan's Dugout: Baseball's Best Teams are on the Coasts • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Baseball’s Best Teams are on the Coasts


1 of 2
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Looking at the standings over Monday morning coffee suggests that the best teams in baseball sit on the East and West coasts.

Both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim lead their divisions, along with the New York Yankees, while the New York Mets are a measly two games behind the Washington Nationals and closing fast.

Although the Yankees and Mets played a Subway Series in the year 2000, there has never been a Freeway Series in Los Angeles outside of the annual exhibition-game set that closes spring training for both clubs.

Whether these contenders can sustain their first halves remains to be seen.

Zack Greinke has Orel Hershiser's record in his sights

Zack Greinke has Orel Hershiser’s record in his sights

One thing is for sure: Zack Greinke cannot continue his scoreless streak forever. Already the odds-on favorite to win the Cy Young Award monopolized by teammate Clayton Kershaw in recent years, Greinke extended his streak of scoreless innings to 43 2/3 Sunday. Despite the first-inning Mike Trout home run he surrendered in the All-Star Games — which counts only to FOX — he is now within hailing distance of Orel Hershiser’s 1988 record of 59.

After throwing eight innings of three-hit ball and fanning 11 Nationals in Washington Sunday, Greinke lowered his earned run average to a ridiculous 1.30. By contrast, American League leader Dallas Keuchel — who opposed Greinke as the AL’s All-Star starter — stands at 2.12.

With their 1-2 punch of Greinke and Kershaw, the Dodgers are sitting pretty for the best-of-five Division Series that opens the postseason. But they’re still trying to trade for a formidable third starter, maybe a Cole Hamels (Phillies) or Johnny Cueto (Reds). Already the owners of the fattest payroll, they are just further proof that the rich always get richer.

All-Star MVP Mike Trout is leading the charge for the Angels

All-Star MVP Mike Trout is leading the charge for the Angels

Unlike the pitching-rich Dodgers, whose attack is led by Adrian Gonzalez and Rookie of the Year contender Joc Pederson, the Angels emphasize the offensive end of the game. Two of their hitters, All-Star Game MVP Mike Trout and Comeback of the Year contender Albert Pujols, rank first and second in the home runs by an American Leaguer.

Jered Weaver went into the season as their top pitcher but rookie Hector Santiago, a surprise All-Star, may have knocked him down a peg. Santiago ranks fourth in the league with a 2.33 ERA.

Pitching is a priority for the New York Mets, whose rotation includes All-Star standout Jacob deGrom and three future All-Stars in Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, and Steven Matz — not to mention 42-year-old Bartolo Colon, still going strong despite his advanced athletic age.

Without slumps by holdover Curtis Granderson and newcomer Michael Cuddyer, coupled with the season-long injury to team captain David Wright, the Mets would be looking back at the Nationals.

While the Queens denizens hope to find a hitter before the July 31 trade deadline, their rivals from the Bronx are looking for a pitcher. Maybe even two.

The left-leaning Yankees are deadly in Yankee Stadium, where that short right-field porch is perfect for

Mark Teixeira's bat has boosted the Yankees to the top of the AL East

Mark Teixeira’s bat has boosted the Yankees to the top of the AL East

short pokes by Mark Teixiera and Brian McCann, but must steer numerous aging stars through the rest of the summer to reach the promised land of postseason play.

CC Sabathia, the erstwhile ace, has been bad more often than good this season, while Masahiro Tanaka has been erratic rather than electric. Fortunately for manager Joe Girardi, the right-left bullpen duo of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller has been nothing short of dynamite.

All four contenders figure to beef up their rosters with trades over the next 10 days. Both the Mets and Yankees have high interest in versatile Ben Zobrist, who could be the starting second baseman for either, and the California clubs could be aiming at Justin Upton (Padres), whose contract expires at the end of the season. Upton is also on the radar of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Although both Los Angeles teams sit on top of their divisions, neither has a clear lead. The Angels just recently passed the rejuvenated Houston Astros, who trail the AL West leaders by a game, while the red-hot San Francisco Giants are barking on the heels of the Dodgers, whom they trail by three-and-a-half.

The 2015 Yankees are relishing the ride. Credit: Daniel Budasoff

The 2015 Yankees are relishing the ride.
Credit: Daniel Budasoff

In the American League East, the Yankees lead the defending-champion Orioles by four, with Tampa Bay and Toronto tied for third with .500 records and four-and-a-half game deficits.

There’s less competition for the Mets in the NL East, where the third-place Braves are closer to fourth than they are to second. Atlanta is five under .500 and six-and-a-half back. Plus it is facing a road trip to St. Louis and Baltimore that could put the final nail in its 2015 coffin.

Both Central Division leaders own the biggest margins, with the St. Louis Cardinals playing at a best-in-baseball .630 pace that is four-and-a-half better than the hard-charging Pirates.

The Kansas City Royals, proving last year’s World Series berth was no mistake, continue to top the AL Central, a full six games ahead of the Minnesota Twins.

Should both advance to the final round, baseball will have a repeat of the 1985 all-Missouri World Series on its 30th anniversary.

But the guessing here is that the rich clubs from the coasts will spend just enough to steamroll rivals deep into October. Whether that means a Subway Series or a Freeway Series remains to be seen.

1 of 2
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

Recommended for you