At this point in the season, it is easy to say which teams have a shot at making the World Series this year. But while the teams in control are playing well and look great, none of them are perfect. Everyone could stand to improve in some way, shape, or form. But at the same time, if they stand pat, they’ll probably be just fine.
However, the teams in contention that aren’t playing dominant baseball have some work to do. If they want to overtake the competition and make the playoffs, they need to get better. They have to fix the problems with their roster.
Otherwise, they may be looking at having a good season that ends just short of the playoffs (or short of the World Series).
New York Yankees
The Yankees pitching staff has the second-best ERA in the AL (as of July 25; 3.53). But their starting rotation has an ERA of 4.06 (sixth in AL; 12th in MLB). They have a bullpen that can close out games. But their starting rotation will not last against the offensive firepower the Astros or Red Sox will bring in the postseason.
The A’s appear poised to at least make the Mariners work for the second wild-card spot. But if the expectations for the current rotation pan out, they are not going to make it far into the postseason (if they make it at all).
The Brewers have three good, but not great, starters, in their rotation. But they will need at least one more good (if not great) starter to keep the Cubs from winning the NL Central again.
They were thought to be frontrunners for Manny Machado at one time, but they couldn’t complete the deal. But since the guys they’ve been trying at shortstop are hitting just .212 this season, they’ll have to figure something out. Things aren’t too much better at second base; that platoon is hitting just .241.
With the Dodgers finally playing up to expectations, the D-backs can’t afford any weak spots in the lineup. Nick Ahmed is a great defensive player but struggles at the plate (.230 BA). They aren’t getting much from their second basemen either (.243 BA).
The NL East appears to be coming down to the Phillies and Braves this season. If the Phillies want to improve their chances, they could stand to get some better production from their shortstop. The guys they’ve trotted out this season to man the spot are only hitting .238.
They were in third in the NL West at the All-Star break but not by much. If they are going to stay in the race, it will help if their corner outfielders could produce a little more at the plate. To be fair, they’ve had some injury issues, but teams that want to make the playoffs have to be able to overcome injuries.
They will probably acquire some bullpen help first. But if they want to beat the Dodgers they can’t ignore the outfield.