With the All-Star Game come and gone, it’s time for baseball to begin its second act. To discuss the headlines in Major League Baseball, ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian joined Bill Littlefield on Only A Game.
The Philadelphia Phillies lost 10 of 11 games going into the All-Star break. They sit at the very bottom of the NL East, while the Washington Nationals lead the division.
“I don’t like the look of the Phillies at all, and this is a team I picked to go to the World Series,” Kurkjian said. “Chase Utley is back, but he doesn’t look like the same Chase Utley. Ryan Howard is back, but he doesn’t look like the same Ryan Howard. That National League East is way better than it used to be. There’s not a pushover in the division.”
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was considered to be the favorite to win Rookie of the Year Honors this season, but the Angels’ Mike Trout has also made a big splash. Both made the All-Star team, and Kurkjian said that this could be the beginning of a great rivalry.“I can’t remember a time when two players came into the league at the same time this young with this kind of ability,” Kurkjian said. “We may have to go back to 1951 with (Mickey) Mantle and (Willie) Mays, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating. Mike Trout may be the fastest player in the game, and a scout told me the other day he’s going to hit 600 home runs before he’s done.”
In the American League, the Yankees are atop their division and looking, well, like the Yankees. Or maybe that’s just because all the other AL East teams are not so good.
“I think the Yankees are really good…but the Red Sox just haven’t been what we thought they would be, mostly because of the injuries,” Kurkjian said.
This postseason will have the debut of the second Wild Card teams in each league, instituted in the offseason to add a little spice to the playoffs. As Kurkjian said, most of the league thinks they have a shot at getting in the postseason.
“The entire National League is aiming for the second Wild Card spot because of the relative weakness of the league,” he said. “The National League is so fluid now, it’s ridiculous.”