As teams creep closer and closer to their hundredth game I take a look at some teams that were written off before the season began but are in the hunt as we come down the stretch.
Cleveland Indians: Ever since CC left town the Indians have consistently been at the bottom of the MLB. After a disappointing season by the Browns and an embarrassingly bad season for the Cav's many didn't expect much out of the lowly Indians. Despite these low expectations the Tribe jumped out to a fast start and have stay atop or in contention of the AL Central ever since. Asdrubal Cabrera has been the leader both offensively and defensively for the Indians, batting .291 with 17 homers and 59 RBI's and having a golden glove season at short. Josh Tomlin has carried the Indians to 11 wins while Justin Masterson has been wheeling and dealing to a 2.80 ERA.
McCutchen hits walkoff
The Indians should pick up another pitcher and a steady bat before the trade deadline if they want this to keep on top in the Central. They will have Detroit, Chicago, and Minnesota all breathing down their neck the rest of the season, just waiting for this young team to snap under the pressure.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The Buc's had no expectations going into the season besides to beat out Houston and not be last in the NL Central. Instead they taken the lead in the Central and they aren't gonna give it away without a fight. After 18 consecutive losing seasons in Pittsburgh they are on their way to snap that with ease and with over 60 games left in the season they are only a handful away from the total wins they had last season. The Buc's are led by young center fielder Andrew McCutchen, second baseman Neil Walker and pitcher Jeff Karstens. McCutchen has been an up incoming star for the last few seasons but now that the Pirates are in contention he as finally gotten the respect he should have gotten all a long. McCutchen is batting .277 while blasting 14 homers and driving in 58 runs in route to his first All Star game. Walker, just 25, has been lights out as well, also batting .277 and driving in 62 runs. Karstens' has been beyond oustanding on the mound has been the the fuel for this team. The righty is currently 3rd in the NL in ERA with 2.34 ERA and has an astonishing .56 ERA in July.
Dbacks' Justin Upton
The Cardinals have been banged up this season, Albert Pujols, while the Pirates key players have stayed relatively healthy. If they continue to stay healthy they will defiantly have a shot at winning the division but the loss of one key players could be tragic. They should defiantly look into getting some more hitters on the roster before the trade deadline as we come to the final third of the season.
Arizona Diamondbacks: This young Diamondbacks squad was just developing last season but many didn't think they'd come around and be this good so quickly. A team that almost racked up a hundred losses last season could wind up winning 90+ games in 2011. Arizona is lead offensively by young outfielders Justin Upton (23), Chris Young (27) and Gerardo Parra (24). The Dbacks rotation has been carried by the likes of Ian Kennedy and Dan Hudson all season. Young has hit 16 home runs and has 50 RBI's while Upton and Parra are batting .281 and .285 respectively. Kennedy and Hudson both have won 10 games and hold an ERA that is under 3.60.
The Diamondbacks will have a tough trail ahead of them because the Giants are starting to find their form from last season and the Braves control the Wild Card by a wide margin. By all means both feats are doable but will be difficult with this young ball club. They may need some veteran experience if they want to keep rolling and to have a shot at the post season. Playoffs or no playoffs I like where this team is headed, and so do their fans.
These three teams don't have many players on there roster that have playoff experience needed to succeed and that could defiantly come back to haunt them as we hit September and crunch time. They still have till July 31st to pick up some of their needs so they can make a push or stay on top. We still have a lot of baseball left but these teams have already proven that they wont go away.