The more I watch the 2014 Major League Baseball season, the more confused I become.
Take, for example, the National League Central. Last year, it produced the NL champion St. Louis Cardinals as well as both of the league's wild cards, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds.
So, who's leading the Central as we approach the All-Star break? None of the above. Rather, it's the Milwaukee Brewers with the best record in the NL. Go figure. You go figure, I can't.
I thought this might be the Reds' year. Replacing laid-back manager Dusty Baker with more intense Bryan Price looked like the right move at the right time. But this appears to be the same ole underachieving Reds. There's still time, but with each passing day and game, that time gets shorter.
The only NL team other than the Brewers 10 games over .500 is the Los Angeles Dodgers, who appear to be as good as most advertised. Yasil Puig has added a superstar to an already impressive lineup plus any pitching staff with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Josh Beckett can't help but win. Even with seven players -including Carl Crawford and Chone Figgins -on the DL, the Dodgers have the second best record in the league, although their long-time California rival, the San Francisco Giants, are hot on their heels.
Meanwhile, the NL East is just as it should be -a two-way battle between the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals. The Miami Marlins have overachieved but it's hard to imagine anyone else other than the Braves or Nationals coming out on top.
The most befuddling division in all of baseball is the AL East where the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays sit atop the standings. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees look like a .500 team and the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays can't even get to the break-even mark. If this keeps up, it may be the most upside-down standings we've ever witnessed in a division.
Not so for the AL Central, which is going as expected. The Detroit Tigers are pulling away, with the improving Kansas City Royals their only competition. The Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins all are headed the same place -nowhere.
Then there's the AL West, where the teams with the three best records in the league reside. And to prove it is no fluke, the Oakland Athletics (+129), Seattle Mariners (+70) and Los Angeles Angels (+59) also have the top three run differentials in the league. This year's AL West looks like last year's NL Central with three teams quite possibly making the playoffs.
I have to admit this one of the most interesting seasons I've ever witnessed, although it also is one of the most befuddling with the haves underachieving and the have-nots overachieving.
It'll be interesting to see what happens in the second half of the season. September may see half the teams vying for playoff spots.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org