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Philadelphia Phillies (National League)
The Phillies are the best team in baseball at a winning record of 55-32. This is unsurprising, especially when one considers that the fact that the Phillies were arguably the best team in baseball coming into the season, due to there acquisition of Cliff Lee during the off-season.
What is surprising about the Phillies thus far is how the team has managed to keep the best record in baseball, despite the fair share of injuries the team has succumbed to since June 23rd.
Since June 23rd, when Jose Contreras went on the disabled list with a right forearm strain, the Phillies have had pitchers, Joe Blanton, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson and Roy Oswalt all placed on the disabled list.
While Contreras, Blanton, Madson and Oswalt were only placed on the 15-day disabled list, Lidge’s injury will surely be more costly. Lidge is expected to miss at least 60 days with what’s described as a right rotator cuff strain and right elbow pain.
Additionally, joining the list of Phillies pitchers who have been injured recently is Center Fielder Shane Victorino. Thankfully for the Phillies’ Victorino injury is the least concerning; he is listed as day-to-day due to a jammed right thumb. Victorino is not expected to miss any time.
New York Yankees (American League)
It is very surprising that the Yankees own the second best record in baseball behind the Phillies at 51-33. Arguably, out of these 6 teams with the best overall records in baseball, it is the Yankees who have been the team most marred by injuries.
The Yankees have lost their captain and shortstop Derek Jeter, starting pitchers Phil Hughes and Bartolo Colon, and bullpen pitchers Pedro Feliciano, Rafael Soriano and Joba Chamberlain all to the disabled list.
Additionally, two other notable players on the Yankees roster that have suffered injuries are bullpen closer Mariano Rivera, and third baseman Eric Chavez.
Out of all these Yankee Players, the most severe injury suffered is Joba Chamberlain’s. Chamberlain was diagnosed with a ligament tear in his right elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery on June 21st.
While Chamberlain had his fair share of struggles in the years past, this year he looked to be an integral part of the Yankees Bullpen. There is no doubt this will be a costly injury.
Besides Chamberlin, the other Yankee players to suffer severe injuries, includes, Phil Hughes, who had right shoulder inflammation, Rafael Soriano, who had right elbow inflammation, and Eric Chavez, who had a bone bruise on his foot; all three were placed on the 60-day disabled list.
The lesser injuries for the Yankees, but still ones they have impressively managed to play through, are Derek Jeter’s injury and Bartolo Colon’s injury.
Despite being the target of naysayers who have said he is getting too old, Jeter looked to be finding his old hitting form before he went on the disabled list. Colon looked to be having a come back year with a impressive record 6-3 after being absent from the league for the past two seasons.
Jeter and Colon were both put on the 15-day disabled list. While Colon is expected to return soon, Jeter has already returned.
The most recent Yankee to have injury problems is the all-important Mariano Rivera who is luckily listed as day-to-day at this point.
What is unsurprising about the Yankees is the fact that they are one of the best teams in baseball. It is unsurprising that the Yankees are one of the best teams because they have many superstars on their roster.
Despite their roster getting older and costly injuries almost every year, the Yankees always seem to be a juggernaut; year after year they somehow find a way to make the playoffs.
Ultimately, it should not be surprising that the Yankees are in the position they are in despite the injuries they have had been faced with. The Yankees have only missed the postseason once since 1996. Unsurprisingly, like usual the Yankees appear to be on their way to the postseason.
Boston Red Sox (American League)
The Red Sox are the third best team in baseball with a record 50-35. Despite not being as banged up as their archrivals (the Yankees), the team has still succumbed to its fair share of Injuries, which make their record surprising.
The notable pitchers on the Red Sox who have been injured this season, includes a laundry list of starting pitchers in John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka, as well as bullpen pitcher Bobby Jenks.
Josh Beckett also missed 12 days with an illness but was not placed on the disabled list.
Additionally, position players Carl Crawford (center Fielder), Kevin Youkillis (third baseman), Jed Lowrie (shortstop) and Marco Scutaro (shortstop) have been injured as well.
Youkillis suffered the least significant injury on the Red Sox; he is luckily listed as day-to-day.
The most severe injury for Red Sox has been Matsuzaka’s. Matsuzaka, who is out with what is described as a sprained right elbow, underwent Tommy John surgery on June 10th. Matsuzaka will not pitch for the remainder of the season.
Fortunately for the Red Sox most of their injuries have been to a lesser extent than Matsuzaka’s injury. Even so, despite this fortune it does not mean that these injuries have not or will not prove costly.
Lackey, Jenks and Scutaro are already back, after being placed on the 15-day disabled list earlier this season. Currently Buchholz, Crawford and Lowrie are all on the 15-day disabled list.
Wednesday it was revealed that John Lester will join Buchholz, Crawford and Lowrie on the 15-day disabled list. For the Red Sox sake, hopefully this current rash of injuries proves to not be costly.
More than injuries though, what makes the Red Sox record the most surprising is the fact they got off to a terrible start.
On April 15th the Red Sox were bottom dwellers of not just the American League East but also the entire League; at the time the Red Sox owned both the worst record in their division and the worst record in the majors at 2-10.
Since that day, the Red Sox have climbed out of the doldrums of being the worst in baseball, and have been arguably the best team.
The Red Sox are currently in great position in the American League. With the second best record behind the Yankees in the American League the Red Sox would make the playoff if it started today.
Despite their injuries and their awful start, it should be unsurprising that the Red Sox are in this position.
Like the Yankees, the Red Sox have a plethora of superstars this year and have been one of baseball’s juggernauts since the late 1990’s. The key to their success has been their ability to to find a way to make the postseason.
Atlanta Braves (National League)
The Braves hold the fourth best record in baseball at 51-36. The Braves record is surprising because they have found a win despite their roster being one filled with many role players and very few superstars.
Arguably, the only two superstars on the Braves, includes a young and talented starting pitcher, Tommy Hanson, and the young and a talented right-fielder, Jason Heyward.
The Braves have several veteran players. These veterans include, Eric Hinske, Derek Lowe, Alex Gonzalez, Julio Lugo, Tim Hudson and Chipper Jones. Despite these players being past the prime of their careers, they are all valuable to a team have a lot younger players.
These players are no slouches either. During their careers all have had their fair share of success and brilliance.
What is also surprising is the fact that the Braves have been able to have success this season despite having a new manager. Last year it was Bobby Cox who was able lead the team to the post season; this season the coach is Fredi Gonzalez.
Despite Cox leaving it seems to be the same old Braves. It should be unsurprising that the Braves are doing as well as they are, because like the Yankees and Red Sox, they always find a way to play well and eventually make the postseason.
The Braves franchise owns one of the longest consecutive postseason streaks in league history at 14 consecutive years (1991-2005). Unsurprisingly, the Braves might be back to their winning ways.
San Francisco Giants (National League)
The Giants hold the fifth best record in baseball at 48-39. It should be unsurprising that the Giants are one of the best teams considering the fact that they won the World Series last season.
What makes the Giants record so surprising is how they’ve managed to compete despite injuries. So far for the Giants, most of the players on their roster who have been injured were all integral pieces of their World Series run last year.
These injuries the Giants have been faced with includes, the all-important and talented young catcher, Buster Posey who is out for the rest of the season and Jonathan Sanchez who was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Sanchez was an integral piece to the starting pitching staff last postseason.
The Giants have also lost starting second baseman Freddy Sanchez, backup second basemen Mike Fontenot, and third baseman Mark DeRosa to the 15-day disabled list.
At the end of the day, if a team is the defending champions like the Giants are, they should always be considered as a team that has a chance to win the World Series; this year is no different.
The Giants might be considered a surprise this year, because, like last year, their roster seems to be made up of a misfit cast of characters that other teams let go. This cast seems to work well for the Giants as they are a real contender and one of the best teams in baseball.
Tampa Bay Rays (American League)
The Rays hold the sixth best record in baseball at 47-39. What is surprising about the Rays is how successful they have been this year, despite getting rid of many important pieces of their roster that propelled them to the best record in the American League Eastern Division last season.
This past off-season, the Rays let both Rafael Soriano and Joaquin Benoit, who were key members of their bullpen last season, test the free agent market. Both Soriano and Benoit signed with new teams.
Also leaving this past off-season was the always-integral Carl Crawford (center fielder) and Carlos Pena (first baseman), as well as the talented young pitcher Matt Garza.
Crawford left as a free agent to the Red Sox during the off-season, while Pena left as a free agent to the Cubs. Matt Garza was traded to the Cubs during the off-season.
Despite these losses it is unsurprising that the Rays are one of the best teams in baseball and have one of the best coaches in Joe Maddon.
Additionally it should be unsurprising that the Rays are one of the best in baseball because they still have a lot of young talent in players such as, Evan Longoria, James Shields, and David Price.
The Rays also have a key veteran in Johnny Damon who has won a world series with both the Red Sox and Yankees.
Ultimately, over the past three seasons, the Rays have been as good as the Yankees and Red Sox; therefore, it should be no surprise that the Rays are one of the best teams in baseball.
My prediction for the World Series this year is probably the same as most peoples. I predict the Phillies and Red Sox will square off in the World Series, in what would be almost a toss up in terms of pitching.
Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee would be better than Beckett and Lester, but not by much. Beckett and Lester could potentially win out in pitchers duals versus Halladay and Lee because the offensive bats backing them up are outstanding.
The Phillies bats are good, but I just don’t think they are anywhere near what the Red Sox Bats are.
All in all I think the series goes to seven games. If it does in fact go to a game seven the Phillies have the advantage. If there is a game seven I believe the Phillies will win.
To have a game seven and be able to throw out either Halladay or Lee on the mound is a huge advantage. Additionally, for any game seven, especially the World Series, all hand are on deck in terms of pitching; meaning, If Lee didn’t start a game seven he would surely come out of the bullpen for the Phillies. The same would go for Halladay if he didn’t start; he would come out of the bullpen and pitch.