We are approaching the end of August. As for Major League Baseball, it's time to separate the contenders from the pretenders.
Toronto Blue Jays - The Blue Jays had a magical run a year ago, and have brought some of that magic into 2016 a little unexpectedly. They are getting a lights out pitching season from the most unlikely of places- J.A. Happ, who is 17-3 with a 3.05 on the season. Status- Contenders
Boston Red Sox- The Red Sox are a mild surprise right now, tied with the Blue Jays for first place out east. The Red Sox offense has been carrying them all season, but that pitching staff scares me in a bad way. Status- Pretenders
Baltimore Orioles- The Orioles, much like the Red Sox, have been getting it done all season with the offense. What's the difference? The Orioles pitching was doing just fine, but now Cy Young candidate Chris Tillman is on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. Status- Pretenders
Cleveland Indians- The Indians are the surprise of 2016. Expected to finish fourth, the Indians have barnstormed their way to the top of the American League with a record of 72-52, good for home field advantage. The Indians have been getting it done with lights out pitching and just enough offense. This is a team built for October and these Indians are for real. Status: Contenders.
Detroit Tigers- The Tigers have had an up and down season. At times they have been great, but at times, they have been bad. It's typical of an old team. Status: Pretenders.
Kansas City Royals- These Royals are playing their best baseball of the season, and are not going quietly. Still, I wonder if they are too banged up to do it this time. Status: Pretenders.
Texas Rangers- These aren't your grandfather's Texas Rangers. This is a balanced team getting it done in all facets of the game. The loss of Prince Fielder for the rest of the season and for his career will sting both short term and in the pocketbook long term, but still, this is a great team. Status-Contenders
Seattle Mariners- The Mariners have always had the pitching staff. It's their offense that has been the question mark. That has changed this season. Robinson Cano is back to MVP form, and Nelson Cruz is an MVP candidate. Status- Contenders
Houston Astros- I've been on the Astros bandwagon since day one, but even I have to admit at this point it's not going to happen. Status: Pretenders.
Washington Nationals- Unlike a year ago, the Nationals are running away with the National League East and have gotten rid of clubhouse cancer Jonathan Papelbon. This looks like the Cubs biggest threat at this point. Status: Contenders.
Miami Marlins- The Marlins seemed destined to crash the party. They currently sit at 65-60, and even though the division seems unlikely, they are in prime position for a wild card. However the Giancarlo Stanton injury will sting, and that may cost these Marlins a postseason spot. Status: Pretenders.
New York Mets- These Mets are a wreck. Not happening. Status: Pretenders.
Chicago Cubs- Speaking of those Cubs, 2016 has been like Caesar's march to Rome for the Cubs. The Cubs have been taking no prisoners all season, and have baseball's best record at 80-45. We are running out of superlatives to describe these Cubs. Status: Contenders.
St. Louis Cardinals- The Cardinals have been banged up, their pitching has been spotty, they have gotten almost nothing out of Yadier Moline and Matt Holliday all season, and here they are, sitting in the second wild card spot. This is a dangerous team. Status: Contenders.
Pittsburgh Pirates- I once thought of these Pirates as baseball's best team just a year or so ago. They are going backwards at the wrong time. Status: Pretenders.
Los Angeles Dodgers- The Dodgers refuse to go down without a fight without super ace Clayton Kershaw. They currently lead the NL West, but are they for real? No. Status: Pretenders.
San Francisco Giants- The Giants are playing their worst baseball of the season, but still are just two games back of the Dodgers for first place. This is far from over out west, and it's only a matter of time before someone goes barking up the wrong tree and reminds the Giants of who they are. Status: Contenders.