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July Has Arrived: Updating 2021 MLB Divisional Races
It is a great time for baseball. Hovering around the halfway point, we are mere weeks away from the All-Star Game, the draft, and the trade deadline. With so much excitement around the league, let's take a look at the divisional races around the majors.
Current Leader: New York Mets (41-35)
Biggest Contender(s): Washington Nationals (40-38), Atlanta Braves (38-41), Philadelphia Phillies (37-41)
Of all the divisions, this is the one that has the largest number of teams still competing. While the Mets currently sit in the first place, the Nationals, Braves, and Phillies are all within five games of them.
New York has really created their separation with dominant pitching. Led by Jacob deGrom, the Mets have the best-earned run average in the majors with a staff ERA of 3.10.
Currently, New York has the best odds of winning the division at -310. The Braves and Nationals are both +700 while the Phillies are +850.
Current Leader: Milwaukee Brewers (48-33)
Biggest Contender(s): Chicago Cubs (42-39), St. Louis Cardinals (40-41), Cincinnati Reds (39-40).
The N.L. Central might be the most interesting of all of the divisions, mostly because it never seemed like anyone wanted to take hold of it over the offseason. Most of the teams in the division subtracted, with only the Cardinals making a big splash in the form of Nolan Arenado.
Still, it is the Brewers that currently hold the top spot in the division. They are 9-1 in their last ten games and just capped a three-game sweep over the second-place Cubs with a historic 15-7 come-from-behind victory.
The Brewers' offense is suspect (although better since trading for Willy Adames), but their starting pitching and bullpen are some of the best in baseball.
It still wouldn't be shocking to see Chicago, St. Louis, or Cincinnati make a run, but the Brewers currently sit in a good spot at the halfway point.
The Brewers are -400 to win the division. The Cubs (+600), Reds (+950), and Cardinals (+1200) trail behind them.
Current Leader: San Francisco Giants (50-29)
Biggest Contender(s): Los Angeles Dodgers (49-31), San Diego Padres (49-33)
This is really a three-horse race with the Rockies already 17 games back and the Diamondbacks 29.5.
It won't be shocking if all three of these teams make the playoffs as they currently have the three best records in the National League.
Interestingly, these three have done it with great pitching and solid offenses. In fact, these are three of the four top teams in terms of earned run average, and all three rank in the top 11 in the majors in runs per game.
While the Giants currently lead the division, they aren't getting as much love in terms of odds. The Dodgers are the favorites to win the division (-210), with the Padres (+300) and Giants (+450) following them.
Current Leader: Boston Red Sox
Biggest Contender(s): Tampa Bay Rays (47-34), Toronto Blue Jays (41-37), New York Yankees (41-39)
After finishing dead last in the division last year, the Boston Red Sox are the first American League team to 50 wins and currently hold a three-game lead in the A.L. East.
Still, the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, and New York Yankees can't be counted out as they all have records above .500.
The Orioles are the only team likely out of contention as they are 23 games back.
As it stands now, the Rays still have the best odds of winning the division at +155, with the Red Sox (+165), Yankees (+450), and Blue Jays (+500) trailing them.
Current Leader: Chicago White Sox (47-32)
Biggest Contender(s): Cleveland Indians (42-35)
This may be the only division where it is truly a two-team race at this point, as the Tigers, Twins, and Royals are all double-digit games back in the division.
The White Sox, despite injuries to Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, have been sensational this season.
At 47-32, they have a four-game lead over the Indians, and Chicago has done it with great offense and pitching. Currently, they rank ninth in runs per game (4.81) and seventh in earned run average (3.49).
While the Indians are certainly contenders, they have been dealing with some injuries of their own, most notably to Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale.
As it stands, the White Sox are the favorites to win the division at -600, and the Indians are +450 to win it.
Current Leader: Houston Astros (48-33)
Biggest Contender(s): Oakland Athletics (48-34)
While the Mariners sit just six games back in the division and the Angels are just 8.5, this one still seems like a coin flip between the Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics.
Separated by just a half a game in the standings, both of these teams have shown glimpses of excellence. The Astros' offense currently lead the majors in runs per game, hits per game, batting average, and on-base percentage.
The one downside to the Astros right now is their bullpen. This was highlighted in their last series when they gave up 19 runs in just over 16 innings.
Still, with a strong offense and solid starting pitching, the Astros are currently the favorites to win the A.L. West. They are -290 to win the division while the Athletics are +220.
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