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Remember after opening night concluded, when the Red Sox were the best team in baseball and the Yankees were the worst team in baseball? Everything felt right, didn’t it? Well, after losing three straight, the Sox are back to .500, and the Yankees are a game ahead. Papi and Teixeira are both colder than Winter at Santa’s place, which according to Al Gore is 75°F. So far, the Blue Jays, Tigers, Phillies, and Giants lead the way at 5-1, while the Astros lag behind at 0-6 (come on, 0-162). It’s always fun early on in the season, when you have to figure it’s the only time a bunch of these teams will be in the lead. With all the fun of the initial positioning in mind, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Monday, April 12, before the day’s games:
Who needs Joe Blanton and Brad Lidge when you have Roy Halladay? Doc threw a one-run complete game against Houston, and is a powerful 2-0 against the easier National League thus far. The best reason the Cardinals have for victory is that Pujols has four homers so far, and is on pace for 108 of them. Still, the immovable object is a more attractive pick than the irresistible force.
Here’s another situation where an ace pitcher should make all the difference. Tim Lincecum is already 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA following two seven inning wins. The Marlins are good, having won their last two to get the best-recent-record tiebreaker over the Diamondbacks, but the Dodgers don’t have anyone like Lincecum. Florida might make things interesting in the three in-between games, but sweeping them will be tough.
Even without Doc Halladay or second baseman Aaron Hill, the Blue Jays are streaking forward. Then again, they did that last year too, and they dropped pathetically from the race. How long can they keep it up, especially against the potent Joe Mauer, and perhaps one of fantasy baseball’s most under-rated pitching staffs? It’s probably not going to happen.
Oakland has stood up pretty well to the Mariners and Angels, while the Tigers have done okay against lesser divisional rivals Kansas City and Cleveland. The Athletics have Kurt Suzuki, and Detroit has powerhouse first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Not to mention Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello. Expect Detroit to win this battle.