MLB.com Columnist

Terence Moore

Predicting which clubs will make postseason

Predicting which clubs will make postseason

This is the dream scenario for baseball fans: Nearly everybody in both leagues in contention for the playoffs during the second half of the season.

Oh, I know. You prefer to hear the word "runaway" somewhere in the same paragraph when folks describe your team regarding its lead in its division or its status along the way to a Wild Card berth.

Not going to happen. Not unless I'm missing something, and I'm not. Two-thirds of the 30 Major League team are within striking distance of either winning their division or grabbing one of the two Wild Card spots in their league.

That said, here is how each division will finish. As a bonus, I'll throw in the Wild Card teams at the end.

American League East: Yankees
As if the baseball universe didn't know before, Joe Girardi is pretty good. Actually, he is better than that as a manager. For one, after Girardi's first year in the profession as skipper of the Marlins in 2006, he was let go, but he still won the NL Manager of the Year Award. Then came his seven-plus years of mostly goodness with the Yankees, including the 2009 World Series championship.

Yankees at the All-Star break

Many attributed much of Girardi's success in the Bronx to the Big Three of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte.

So what's the excuse now?

None of those pinstriped legends play for the Yankees anymore, and the Yanks still are in first place. Alex Rodriguez is productive despite missing all of last season, and Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann have rebounded at the plate. There also is the All-Star play of Brett Gardner.

Still, the overall pitching for the Yankees isn't much (20th in the Major Leagues in ERA), and they are second in baseball in runs scored despite a batting average that ranks 16th overall.

We're back to Girardi.

AL Central: Royals
If you thought the Royals were a fluke last year, raise your hand. That's a lot of hands.

Just like the Royals have a lot of pitching, a lot of hitting, a lot of grit and a lot of everything else to hold off the pesky Twins.

MLB Tonight report card: Royals

Kansas City does so many things well. Which means, even with the loss of the splendid glove and solid bat of Alex Gordon for a couple of months due to his groin injury, the Royals won't collapse. I mean, they did have seven players at this week's All-Star Game, including four starters.

Here's another thing: That bullpen for Kansas City that was deep and historic last season along the way to the World Series hasn't changed much. But here's the biggest thing: The Royals prospered as underdogs in 2014, and they're doing the same this year as the team to beat, which means Kansas City is for real.

AL West: Angels
This isn't complicated: Nobody in the division has more talent than the Angels. All you have to know is that these halo folks have baseball's designated best player in Mike Trout, and nobody else does.

Trout has a bunch of help, starting with Albert Pujols, who is playing like Albert Pujols again. That's scary for pitchers.

Pujols' three-run homer

The Halos also are survivors. After conflicts within the organization earlier in the season, they've become a cohesive unit. As a result, they've passed an Astros team that soared so high to start the season that it resembled something built by nearby NASA and shot from a launching pad.

The Astros remain competitive, but the Angels have the answer for anything from Houston's Mission Control -- Trout and Pujols.

National League East: Nationals
No team is more fun to watch than the Nationals. That's because they have the NL's version of Trout. OK, not really. Bryce Harper is must-see TV for reasons unique to himself.

In addition to Harper, a 22-year-old wonder, the Nationals have an interesting and effective lineup with the veteran likes of Denard Span, Wilson Ramos and Yunel Escobar. Span is on the disabled list with back issues, but the Nats still have those other hitters (if Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon get healthy, look out) -- and potent pitching.

Few starting rotations match that of Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister.

Scherzer gets win No. 10

The extraordinary Scherzer is enough by himself to keep the Mets and the Braves in the Nationals' rearview mirror.

NL Central: Pirates
Did I say the Pirates? I meant to say the Cardinals. I'll stick with the Bucs -- for the moment.

This is a tough one, because even though the Cards have the best record in baseball, the Pirates are streaking like crazy. The Buccos rolled into the All-Star break after taking the last three games of a four-game series from the mighty Redbirds, and nobody does that these days.

Pirates' midseason moments

The Cardinals have the best ERA in the Major Leagues, but guess who is right behind them? Yep, the Pirates.

Not only that, the Pirates have Andrew McCutchen, their version of Trout and Harper as an instant game changer. After a slow start, McCutchen has returned to NL MVP Award conversations, so, yeah. I'm picking the Bucs. For sure.

NL West: Dodgers
Again, talent usually trumps everything else, and the Dodgers have more gifted players than the scary but streaky Giants.

That will keep the Big Dodger In The Sky smiling into October.

You say the Dodgers, and you always start with pitching. Only the Cardinals, the Pirates and the Mets have a better team ERA in the game than the Dodgers, but only the Dodgers have somebody who can go pitch for pitch in the NL this season with Scherzer -- Zack Greinke.

Gonzalez's go-ahead two-run shot

They say Clayton Kershaw is having a down year (6-6, with a 2.85 ERA, compared to his career average of 2.51) for the Dodgers, but "they" should know he still is formidable with three NL Cy Young Awards on his resume.

In addition, nobody plays defense like the Dodgers, with their Major League-high fielding percentage of .990. Much of that involves Joc Pederson, a 23-year-old wizard with his glove in center. He also has a clutch bat (20 home runs), and so does Adrian Gonzalez, along with others in Dodger Blue.

Wild Card teams
NL: Cardinals (Well, of course) and Cubs (1908 and '45)

AL: Twins (Torii Hunter Is Peter Pan) and Orioles (Buck Showalter)

Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.