In baseball, there comes a time where teams truly believe they have a run in them, and others decide to wait for the future. The All Star break is, believed to be, the deciding point for what each team's future holds. So, the 10 to 12 games leading up to the break could be the fate for each team. Some teams made progress toward making the playoffs, while others regressed.
On A Run:
Tampa Bay Rays (55-41, Last 10: 9-1):
The Rays have been playing complete games (good hitting, good pitching, and good defense) ever since the calendar turned to July. They are 12-2 in July, and haven't lost a game by more than three runs, and have scored five or more runs six times! This puts them only two games behind the Red Sox who have gone 8-6 in July.
Philadelphia Phillies (48-48, Last 10: 7-3):
The Phils have had a lot to overcome. Losing Doc Halladay, Ryan Howard, Mike Adams, Ben Revere, and Erik Kratz (each for extended stays on the DL) isn't ideal for a team that wants to be in contention down the stretch. But, in their last thirteen games (against the Pirates, Braves, Nationals, and White Sox), the Fightin' Phils have been 9-4. In that same stretch, the two East teams ahead of them, the Braves and the Nationals, have each finished 6-7, meaning the Phillies have gained three games on both of them, in only a thirteen game stretch.
St. Louis Cardinals (57-36, Last 10: 7-3):
When playing in a tough division, you have to feast on your opponents mistakes. While the Reds and Pirates have had a 4-6 record in the 10 games heading into the break, the Cards have been able to gain three games, which is huge when playing in a division with three teams that could make the playoffs. The Cardinals just solidified their chances of being the NL Central champs, when it's all set and done.
Los Angeles Dodgers (47-47, Last 10: 7-3):
Although the Dodgers gained just a game on the Diamondbacks in the past ten games, they are streaking. Yasiel Puig has been stunning to say the least, as the Dodgers went from last place on July 1, to second place heading into the All Star break. That is what you call a run. The Dodgers are in a great position to pounce on the Diamondbacks, and perhaps the rest of the league.
It Could Happen (Key Word: Could):
Cincinnati Reds (53-42, Last 10: 4-6):
The Reds are the only team in this section that is currently in position for a playoff spot. First off, the Reds are five games out of a tough NL Central, and have a five game lead for the second wild card spot. But, here's the catch. The Phillies, Nationals, and Dodgers all sit behind them. Yes, the Reds do play good baseball. But, the Phillies and Dodgers are playing better. And, the Nats? They can go on a run at any time. So, obviously the Reds do have the team, but I feel at least the Dodgers will be able to catch them, if nobody else does.
Washington Nationals (48-47, Last 10: 5-5)
Once the Nationals swept the Padres, people thought that this was the beginning of something big, especially now that Bryce Harper had returned to the lineup. Then the Phillies took three of four from them, and then the Marlins took two of three from them. That's not something that should be happening from a "championship-caliber team." And yes, I made the same mistake. I picked them to go all the way.
Baltimore Orioles (53-43, Last 10: 5-5):
The O's have been pretty much playing the most consistent baseball of any team this season. They win a couple, lose one, then get back to winning. This is great for a team that wants to go far, but not in this year's AL East. If they could get on a long run all at one time, and continue their consistent habits, I do like the O's chances. But, remember, I used the word "if."
Losing Grip, Fast:
San Diego Padres (42-54, Last 10: 2-8):
The Padres were 40-40 on June 28, and teetering between being a buyer or seller at the Trade Deadline. Then they had a 2-14 run. With the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Giants, and Rockies in their division, it looks like San Diego will, once again, miss the playoffs. But, if anyone can turn it around, it's Bud Black. But, he doesn't have a lot of time.
New York Yankees (51-44, Last 10: 5-5):
On June 27, the Yanks were happily moving along in second place. Now, just 19 days later, the New York powerhouse is in fourth. They haven't missed the playoffs since 2008, and this year doesn't look promising. A-Rod could be suspended, Jeter re-injured himself, and the Yankees aren't winning the games they should be winning. A big apple collapse? Yes, it's very possible.
Kansas City Royals (43-49, Last 10: 3-7):
The Royals were many people's "surprise team" of this season. It seemed like it could happen, until the Royals lost five games in a row right into the All Star break. This could be good for them, as they may be able to regroup, or the break might make them second-guess themselves even more.