MLB: Who’s for real?

Most of the teams in Major League Baseball are eight games into the season. And while judging whether or not teams are a success this early in the season seems pointless, many news pundits were doing so with President Barack Obama two months into a four-year term. So I figure, if it’s good enough for CNN, it’s good enough for me, right?

In fact, Yahoo has a story yesterday that says only one team in baseball history has started 1-6 or worse and made the playoffs (it was the 2007 Philadelphia Phillies). So the first week does give you some indication of what’s coming, even if the 1-7 Cleveland Indians prefer to disagree.

It’s a pretty interesting group of teams atop their divisions in baseball, which makes you wonder what teams, if any, are equipped to parlay the early season success into late-September bliss.

Here’s a look at the playoff picture through Tuesday’s games:

  • AL East: Baltimore Orioles (6-2)
  • AL Central: Kansas City Royals (5-3)
  • AL West: Seattle Mariners (6-2)
  • AL wild card: Toronto Blue Jays (6-3)
  • NL East: Florida Marlins (6-1)
  • NL Central: Chicago Cubs (5-2)
  • NL West: San Diego Padres (6-2)
  • NL wild card: St. Louis Cardinals (6-3)

I have a feeling the execs at Fox and TBS would cringe at that lineup if those teams advance to October playoff baseball. No Red Sox. No Yankees. No Dodgers. No Angels. Those execs throughout the playoffs would likely be echoing the chant of fans at Wrigley Field following Cubs victories: "Go Cubs go. Go Cubs go."

I’m not sure if some of those playoff-bound teams are capable of keeping it up. If I had to put money on any of them, I think Kansas City and Florida have the best chances of sustained success in 2009.

The NL East is pretty competitive, but taking the injured Cole Hamels out of the Phillies rotation really hurts them. There’s a good chance the wild card will come from the East, so there’s an opening for the Marlins. They have a good young rotation (ESPN’s Peter Gammons often said this offseason it’s the best in the division). And the Fightin’ Fish have a lot of young stars in their lineup, led by Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla and the emerging Jeremy Hermida and Emilio Bonifacio.

As for the Royals, I think the AL Central is WIDE OPEN. One thing that’s stood out early in the season are the flaws of every team in this division are evident. Cleveland – which was the division winner prediction by many - is off to a really poor start. And the other favorite – the Minnesota Twins – are 4-5 but could very easily be 2-7 without two walk-off victories.

So Kansas City’s got a shot, but the Royals do need to get the injured Jose Guillen back in their lineup. He’s the one veteran presence on a team of mostly young and raw players.