It's going to be a fun, and very intense, second half of the baseball season.
By the All-Star break, one division in the National League had a tie for the lead and the others had two teams at the top separated by just one game. On the other side, the AL West has the best team in baseball (the Athletics), one of the hottest teams in baseball (the Angels) and the up-and-coming Seattle Mariners. The AL East looks like it's anyone's game and the AL Central, well, never mind.
Almost every division race could come down to the wire in September. With that in mind, lets figure out which ones will be the most compelling and fun to watch. Here's a ranking of which division races will be the most exciting throughout the second half.
The Oakland A's, owners of the best record and one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, will try to win their third straight division title. They'll have to hold off one of the hottest teams in baseball: the Los Angeles Angels (14-5 in July). Throw in the best player in the game (Mike Trout) trying to make his first postseason, along with former MVPs Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, and you have the most compelling division race in the game.
Oh, and both teams will also have to deal with Felix Hernanez and the rising Seattle Mariners. They're far out of first place but still in the hunt for the Wild Card.
There's no doubt the NL Central is the deepest division in the game. Four of the five teams are in the hunt for the division crown and after Sunday's games, all four were separated by just 2.5 games
. With the Milwaukee Brewers still surprising everyone sitting atop the division and three teams that made the postseason in 2013 behind them, the next two and a half months could get chaotic.
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The NL West will come down to one of the biggest rivalries in the game. The San Francisco Giants had a stronghold on the division during the first half of the season, but the Los Angeles Dodgers have clawed their way back into the race and will look to win their second straight NL West title.
The race certainly doesn't lack star power either. There's Buster Posey (former MVP), a Panda, Tim Lincecum and Clayton Kershaw (both have two Cy Young awards each), and sluggers like Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez.
The Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves are neck and neck once again. For the third year in a row, it looks like they'll be jostling for a spot atop the division throughout the second half. After a 2013 season in which the Braves-Nats matchup became one of the more heated rivalries
in baseball, this will surely be a race worth paying attention to.
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While the AL East may be having a down year, the division looks like it's wide open. Yeah, the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays have losing records. But the last-place Rays are only eight games out of first with over two months left. Will the Baltimore Orioles be able to hold on to win their first division crown since 1997? Will Derek Jeter help lead the Yankees to the AL East title in his final year before retiring? Just because the division looks weak doesn't mean it won't be a fun race to watch.
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That brings us to the least compelling race in baseball. The Detroit Tigers have won the last three division titles and look poised to win again in 2014. With the rest of the division seemingly fading away, the Tigers could be the first team to clinch.