AL Biggest Surprise: Texas Rangers.
The team with four straight losing seasons hasn't been more than 3 1/2 games out of first place all season. Kevin Millwood has been a true workhorse and ace for a pitching staff that has held up very well under coach Mike Maddux.
NL Biggest Surprise: San Francisco Giants.
They might not even hit 100 home runs and they might be the least-patient hitting team in the league, but the Giants are a legitimate wild-card threat because their pitching is spectacular.
AL Biggest Bust: Cleveland Indians.
Yes, injuries have helped take this team out of contention, but the Indians shouldn't be this bad. The bullpen has been frightening.
NL Biggest Bust: Arizona Diamondbacks.
Suddenly, they are a stagnant organization, and the A.J. Hinch hiring as a completely inexperienced manager has looked about as risky as it sounded at the time.
AL Best Plan A: Detroit Tigers.
They fast-tracked Porcello, traded for Edwin Jackson, moved Brandon Inge to third, acquired Gerald Laird and Adam Everett and paid Gary Sheffield to go away, a symbolic move proving the organization knew the team had grown too old and unathletic. The emphasis on pitching and defense has been spot on.
NL Best Plan A: Los Angeles Dodgers.
They cut their payroll by $18 million and wound up with the best record in baseball. The Orlando Hudson signing was a gem, not to mention those of Casey Blake, Mark Loretta, Brad Ausmus and Randy Wolf, gamers all.
AL Worst Plan A: Oakland Athletics.
Oakland does a nice job collecting assets on the cheap, but the plan doesn't seem to come together. Old horses Jason Giambi, Orlando Cabrera and Nomar Garciaparra have 729 plate appearances and OPS+ marks of 92, 69 and 83. Matt Holliday isn't as valuable now as when Oakland acquired him. And the Athletics continue to have major problems keeping players healthy. Oakland does have a bunch of good arms that could pay off big soon, and there's still time to invoke a good Plan B before the trade deadline.
NL Worst Plan A: Washington Nationals.
Why is Adam Dunn here? The Nats have too many outfielders who are poor defenders, too many starting pitchers who can't go deep enough into games, too many relief pitchers who can't get enough hitters out and too many dumb mistakes.
AL Best Race: AL East.
As predicted, the three best teams in the league, if not in all of baseball, play in the same division. One of them is not making the playoffs.
NL Best Race: The Bryce Harper Derby.
Washington and Arizona are competing for the first pick of the 2010 draft. Somehow the Diamondbacks have played themselves into making an actual race of it. Nationals fans should understand every Nats win is a costly one.
AL Most Key Player: David Price.
The Rays have a potential ace on their hands. Price is very close to turning the corner, and he could get hot enough to pull the Rays to the playoffs.
NL Most Key Player: Milton Bradley.
The guy has been horrible on the road (.178/325/.267) and hasn't provided the kind of power the Cubs expected. But now that he has a hot Derrek Lee in front of him and Aramis Ramirez behind him, Bradley should start heating up.
Keith: Burning questions for second half
Baseball America: Ten key call-ups
Heyman: Midseason awards (and anti-awards)
Sabino: All-Stats All-Stars