Hard to believe another 20 games has passed since the first installment. So at the 40 game mark (about the quarter pole) we look again at who's been hot and who's off their game.
Who's Hot: The NL South
Houston has asserted itself as the best team in the NL, following up their hot 15-5 start with a 14-6 stretch, for a ML-best 29 wins. New Orleans and San Juan, however, refuse to be left completely in the dust; New Orleans matched Houston's 14 wins over this stretch and San Juan won 13.
How: Houston gave up 3 runs or less in 15 of their last 20. When New Orleans scores, they win; they averaged 7.5 runs in their 14 wins and 1.8 in their 6 losses. San Juan likes to keep it close; they played 11 1-run games out of those 20 and went 8-3.
Who else is hot:
Vancouver went 13-7, highlighted by a 7-game winning streak, to maintain a lead over Salem in the west.
Atlanta won 12 out of 17 games before losing their last 3; their 12-8 stretch puts them right back into the NL East race.
Salt Lake City rode an 8-game winning streak to a 12-8 record.
Salem also went 12-8 to stay within a game of Vancouver. Like Atlanta, they've lost their last 3.
Who's Not: The NL North
I know it's early, but it's hard to believe the division that has arguably been the most competitve division in the entire league for 3 seasons has all 4 teams below .500.
How: Fargo went 8-12. They weren't helped by playing 7 straight against Houston, but they still need to do better than 2-5 to claim itself as a legitimate title contender. Getting swept in 3 straight by Salt Lake City also didn't help.
Toronto, with a chance to gain ground, went 4-16, including an 11 game losing streak. Atlanta is no pushover, but if Toronto doesn't make the playoffs, they will probably lament going 0-7 against the Bandits here.
Chicago was hurt by its slow start and actually did well to play to a 10-10 record with series against Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Houston, Salem, Norfolk, and Vancouver.
This division is so bad that Philadelphia is only 5 games out of first and would own next season's #2 draft pick if the season ended today. They went 8-12 in this stretch.
Who else is not hot:
Washington came out of the gate pretty well, but has fallen back to last place in the East with a 6-14 stretch.
Norfolk went 7-13 to fall behind the Trenton Traffic in the NL East.
Who's Hot: Las Vegas Gamblers
The Gamblers restored some order in the AL West with a blistering 15-5 record.
How: The Gamblers had 6 series (Boston, Little Rock, Nashville, Louisville, Jackson, Syracuse) and won them all. It seemed like when they didn't score runs, the pitching was good. When the pitching had an off night, the offense bailed them out.
Who else is hot:
Monterrey went 13-7 to take a 2-game lead in the South.
Milwaukee, seemingly always hot, went 13-7 and have a 5 game lead in the North.
Charlotte, Nashville, and St. Louis all went 12-8. Charlotte leads the East by 2; the other two teams are currently in the wild-card hunt.
Who's Not: Colorado Springs Chickens
The Chickens only managed 3 wins in the last 20. They are already 15 games out of first.
How: Inconsistency. They scored 4 runs a game and gave up 6 a game during this stretch, but that doesn't tell the whole story. They seemed to be the exact opposite of Las Vegas; when they scored they gave up more runs, and they didn't score any runs on the nights when their pitching was solid.
Who else is not hot:
Fellow division mate Seattle lost 13 of 20, although Colorado Springs would gladly switch places.
Buffalo lost 11 of its last 14 on its way to a 7-13 stretch.
Jackson's starting to experience some growing pains, falling to last place in the South due to an 8-12 stretch.