MLB Midseason Report Card

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Jul 14, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) celebrates as he rounds third base on a two run home run against the Boston Red Sox during the seventh inning at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Athletics are at it again with their “Moneyball” ways. They’ve built a team quietly in the AL West and are keeping big dogs Texas and Los Angeles out of the top of the standings.

Josh Donaldson has the best BA on the team at .310, with Jed Lowrie right behind him at .295. Donaldson also has 61 RBIs, 50 runs and 16 home runs, still good enough to lead the A’s into the All-Star break.

I like how this team seems to come out of nowhere the past few years, and it is because they do it their way.

The pitching of the A’s has been good, too. Bartolo Colon, an All-Star selection, leads with 12 wins, followed by A.J. Griffin and Tommy Milone (eight wins each), not to mention their closer Grant Balfour, who was finally named to the All-Star team with 25 saves in 25 chances this season.

For their division, they’ve done a lot right, including, in my opinion, future All-Star Yoenis Cespedes, who is batting .225 in 79 games, including 15 home runs and 43 RBIs.

TEAM MVP: Josh Donaldson (3B) — This was a tough one to pick, but I’m going with Donaldson. I’ve already listed his stats, and if the players on the team keep up their numbers, they will be tough to pass in the standings in the second half of the season.

Being just two games back in the AL West with the players they’ve lost the past couple seasons, including Josh Hamilton, the Texas Rangers have continued their winning ways this year, as they are 13 games over the .500 mark.

The Rangers continue to move along this season, just two games away from the A’s with Adrian Beltre leading them with a .316 BA and 54 runs. Nelson Cruz leads Texas with 22 home runs and 69 RBIs, with Beltre following with 55 RBIs.

They have a closer in Joe Nathan who has revitalized his career with 30 saves at the break, and Yu Darvish leads the team with eight wins and 157 strikeouts.

I also believe manager Ron Washington is one of the most underrated managers in the game, as he’s one of the constants in the continued success of the Rangers.

Another move the Rangers made this past offseason was the signing of catcher AJ Pierzynski and calling up prospect Jurickson Profar. Though he’s only played in 40 games this season, he does have 32 hits and 11 RBIs. He’s learning on the spot while surrounded by quality veteran players, which is a smart move. Also watch out for Jeff Baker, who, though on the DL, is batting .317 in 37 games.

TEAM MVP: Nelson Cruz (RF) — Again, we’ve already mentioned Cruz is the leader in home runs and RBIs on the Rangers, but in 92 games, he’s has 97 hits with a .277 BA.

The only reason their grade isn’t lower is because they are third in their division, but maybe it should be.

How does a team with Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo and Josh Hamilton not only limp into the All-Star break being swept by the Seattle Mariners, but stand 11 games out of first place in their division?

Thus far, they just haven’t played very good baseball and are five games under .500. None of their pitchers have double-digit wins, and if they want to make it to the postseason, they must get their game back on track, because the first half of their season has been a disappointment.

Team MVP: Mike Trout (LF) — The second year superstar, Trout leads the team in BA at .322, in runs (65), RBIs (59) and steals (21). He’s third on the team in home runs with 15.

The entire first half of the season hasn’t been that great for the Seattle Mariners, but they are just one game out of third place in the division, though they still trail the A’s by 13 games.

In July, the Mariners are 8-5 with series wins over the Rangers, Reds and a sweep of the Angels over the weekend.

The top of the rotation for Seattle is one of the better duos in the game. Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, both selected to the All-Star game, have a combined 18 wins (Hernandez 10, Iwakuma 8) with Hernandez having an ERA of 2.53, 140 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.10.

Offensively, the player to watch for is Kyle Seager. He leads Seattle with a .293 average, with 54 runs (a team-high), along with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs.

Seattle could be the same type of team that makes the run the A’s made last season. They could be a fun team to watch, though tough to stay awake for.

Team MVP: Kyle Seager (3B) — His overall starts have already been mentioned, but in his past 10 games alone, Seager is batting .412 with 14 hits, 11 runs, three home runs and eight walks. He’s struck out twice in the past 10 games … that’s a way to enter the All-Star break.

I can’t give them a good grade for their overall performance, but they are trying. The Houston Astros are basically rebuilding from scratch with a very low payroll and moving to the AL this season.

There is hope for the Astros in the future, but not this season. Plus, let’s be honest amongst friends, there were no real expectations with this team this season.

Team MVP: Chris Carter (LF) — Though Carter is batting .229, he does lead Houston with 44 runs, 18 home runs and 47 RBIs.