Athletics continue tear, move into first place

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With a 4-3 victory over the White Sox tonight, the Athletics moved into first place in the AL West for the first time since April 20, when they were 12-6. Now 38-25, they are winners of 18 of their last 21 contests. The Rangers, who have been treading water for the last three weeks, fell to the Blue Jays 6-1, bringing their record down to 36-24.

Josh Donaldson has been the most surprising source of production for the A’s. Entering tonight’s game, he was his team’s leading hitter with a 153 adjusted OPS, including a .987 OPS over the last 30 days. He hit a grand slam in the sixth inning tonight off of White Sox starter Chris Sale to move the A’s from a 3-0 deficit to a 4-3 lead.

On the pitching side of things, Bartolo Colon looks as good as ever at the ripe age of 40. He has a 3.14 ERA with an AL-best two percent walk rate and 7.67 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Jarrod Parker, the winner of tonight’s affair, has turned things around in the last month (2.41 ERA) after a rough start to the season. Closer Grant Balfour is a perfect 15-for-15 in save opportunities with a 1.37 ERA on the season.

It’s easy to see why they’ve caught on fire.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves