The following is how I see the divisional and wildcard races panning out:
AL EAST : Baltimore Orioles
While they are fortunate to play in only a slightly above-average division, the Orioles boast a line-up as good as any in baseball right now. Chris Davis is on pace to hit 60 homeruns with 160 RBIs. He won't get to either of those plateaus, but he has given the Orioles an element they didn't have last year--protection for Adam Jones. The Orioles eked out a wild card birth last year. Now they're ready to take that next step and win the division. The Red Sox and Rays keep things close, though.
AL Central : Detroit Tigers
Cleveland's hot and Kansas City is this year's sexy choice to win the division, but the Tigers have spent much of the first half underachieving. They have tremendous starting pitching and the most fearsome middle of the lineup in recent memory. If they had even an average closer, they'd be at least seven games in first place. Watch for a trade to fill that gap (Bobby Parnell?). The first place Indians (a 1/2 game up at press time) are just not very good.
AL West : Texas Rangers
Talk about flat out luck. They let Josh Hamilton walk and he goes from being Mickey Mantle to Dave Schneck! The Rangers are still good enough overall to win 93-95 games, which will be enough in this division. The A's could surprise with one of their crazy long winning streaks, but the Rangers are better and have more in the way of veteran experience--crucial in the stretch run of a season.
AL Wildcards: Boston and Oakland
NL East: Washington Nationals
Here's where I finally go out on a limb. Washington is 6.5 games out of first, so they have some ground to make up to catch the Braves. But the Nationals get healthy again and make a strong run to pull it out the last weekend of the season. You don't get a much better one-two in the NL than Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg and its those two guys that could come up huge in a crucial series down the stretch. Bryce Harper is the x-factor.
NL Central: Pittsburgh Pirates
I've been on the record for a while now saying this was their year to end 20 years of annual sub-.500 baseball and finally make the playoffs. Only a collapse of historic proportions would do it now. They have the best record in baseball at 51-30 and use every last guy on their roster to contribute to their success. It's that factor that makes them dangerous. While Andrew McCutcheon is the closest player they have to being indispensible, they really don't have any superstars. Instead, it's a different hero every night. They are just a good team that plays hard and is well-managed by Clint Hurdle. One final point: their core players from the last few seasons--Cutch, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Garrett Jones--haven't heated up yet. When they do, the Bucs will go into overdrive.
NL West : San Francisco Giants
Hey NL West, 1973 wants their NL East back! For those old enough to remember, the NL East in '73 had five of their six teams bunched up around the .500 mark going into the last week of the season. The Mets finished at 82-79 and took the division. Right now, Arizona is in first place by two games with a .519 winning percentage. The last place Dodgers, however, are just four games out. That's how tight and mediocre this division is. But look to the defending champion Giants to right their ship, get healthy, and easily erase their three game deficit to win the division once again.
NL Wildcards: Atlanta and St. Louis
As for the post-season:
ALCS: Baltimore over Detroit
NLCS: Pittsburgh over Washington
World Series: In a repeat of both the 1971 and 1979 World Series, my fearless forecast is......
The Pittsburgh Pirates over the Baltimore Orioles, 4 games to 3.
Bring it on, readers! I am sure no one else will agree with that.