By Allyus Fritz
It’s mid-July, and another year of baseball is half over. This season has been marked by young talent taking over the major leagues. From Manny Machado to Matt Harvey, the youth movement is in full swing as baseball finally starts to completely flush away those from the steroid era. The new age of baseball is upon us, and it looks how Timbuk 3’s future used to look.
As the baseball world’s collective conscience turns to New York and the All-Star Game, it’s time for us to look back at the first 90 something games while simultaneously studying how the rest of season will develop. Here’s everything that stood out in the first half and all you need to know for baseball’s second half. It’s going to be a doozy.
Triple Crown Race
Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera are the first two players to have over 30 HR’s and 90 RBI’s by the All-Star break. Keep in mind that means in the entire history of baseball a hitter has never done that, and it’s happened twice this season. Davis’ 37 home runs make him a legitimate threat to break Barry Bonds’ single season home run record of 73. Reaching 60 would be an incredible feat considering Davis is clean (I hope). As for the Triple Crown race, I believe only Cabrera could win it out of these two mashers. Cabrera is first in the AL in batting average (.365) and RBI’s (95). He is seven home runs behind Davis, but if Davis falls off Cabrera could catch up. Davis has no shot at the Triple Crown because of his .315 batting average that is tied for 7th in the AL.
1. The Pirates! This is obviously the biggest surprise of the season. Pittsburgh is just a game back of St. Louis at the break and is on pace for their best record in two decades. The Buccos would need to put forth a horrendous second half not to make the playoffs, but then again just finishing with a winning record would mark progress. If they host the Wild-Card playoff game or make it in to the playoffs clean, look for PNC Park to be louder than it ever has been before.
2. Chris Davis finally started to come in to his own last season. Injuries plagued his development for years, but last year he hit 33 homers and looked poised for a break out year this season. No one expected him to do what he has done. Davis has been catapulted in to stardom, and I sincerely hope he doesn’t wilt in the second half.
3. The Washington Nationals were my preseason pick to win the World Series. Six games out of first place is not where they were supposed to be at this point in the season. Just like the Yankees and Giants, the Nats have been one giant list of walking wounded all year. Injuries to Bryce Harper, Jason Werth, and Ryan Zimmermann have hurt Washington the most. Ian Desmond currently leads the team in home runs, which means the team’s power hitters aren’t getting it done.
1. The San Francisco Giants are doing an extremely poor job of defending their World Championship. The Giants will be lucky to have a winning record. Injuries have hurt, but there also isn’t a single Giant having a good season besides Buster Posey and Sergio Romo. Props to Tim Lincecum and his no-hitter though. Hunter Pence made a hell of a catch to preserve it in the 8th inning.
2. Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are über rich and unproductive. Hamilton has come on of late, but there’s no reason players of this caliber should have a combined 29 HR’s and 96 RBI’s at the break. It’s not quite rock bottom for Phat Albert, but his “shady” performance might be cause we see them dollar signs and let the cash blind us, money will brainwash you and leave your ass mindless.
3. The Kansas City Royals (43-49) were a popular pick to turn things around this season. It’s been another season of inconsistency. Country breakfast himself Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer need to hit for more power if the Royals have any chance of being a winning team. Kansas City is fourth in the AL in team ERA, so the problem certainly hasn’t been pitching. Ending their first half with five straight loses most likely ends their season.
– Philadelphia Phillies: Let’s start with the Phillies. When the Phillies finally realize that they can’t win the division this season, they’ll deal a few of their stars. Their aging roster can’t win a world series, which means it needs to sell high and get young talent. Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, and Jimmy Rollins should all go. The Los Angeles Dodgers don’t have a star at second base, which means Magic Johnson probably wants one. Utley could very well be very Dodger blue soon. Cliff Lee could go anywhere that wants pitching help.
A great landing spot for Rollins would be St. Louis. Pete Kozma isn’t cutting it at the plate and Rollins would be an instant upgrade at shortstop. Once upon a time the Cardinals got Ronnie Belliard at the trade deadline for middle infield help. That was 2006, and the Cardinals won the World Series. I’m in no way comparing Rollins to Belliard, but having another big bat in the lineup would be a tremendous boast for St. Louis.
Philadelphia will save money with these transactions. This offseason they should look to pick up a right-handed power bat to sandwich in between Ryan Howard and Dominic Brown.
The Chicago Cubs will continue to deal players. Scott Feldman is already gone, and expect Matt Garza to be dealt very soon too. The Dodgers could go after him, considering they have infinite money in their pockets. The Giants could also go after Garza in the hope that he can help keep them in the NL West race.
Other players that could very easily be dealt: Justin Morneau, Raul Ibanez, Jose Altuve, Giancarlo Stanton, and Francisco Rodriguez.
If you root for a team that isn’t on this list, you might as well start thinking about fantasy football because your baseball season is over.
AL East AL Central AL West
– Boston Red Sox – Detroit Tigers – Texas Rangers
– Tampa Bay Rays – Cleveland Indians – Oakland Athletics
– Baltimore Orioles
– New York Yankees
NL East NL Central NL West
– Atlanta Braves – St. Louis Cardinals – Arizona Diamondbacks
– Washington Nationals – Pittsburgh Pirates – Colorado Rockies
– Cincinnati Reds – Los Angeles Dodgers
– San Francisco Giants
Obscenely Early Playoff Scenario
If the season ended today, this is what we would see:
AL Wild Card Game- Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays
4. Rangers/Rays vs. 1. Boston Red Sox
3. Detroit Tigers vs. 2. Oakland Athletics
NL Wild Card Game- Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
4. Reds/Pirates vs. 1. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Arizona Diamondbacks vs. 2. Atlanta Braves
*Remember that divisional teams are allowed to play in the first round of the playoffs in the current format.
AL Wild Card Game- Red Sox over Rangers
4. Boston Red Sox vs. 1. Oakland Athletics
3. Detroit Tigers vs. 2. Tampa Bay Rays
NL Wild Card Game- Reds over Pirates
4. Cincinnati Reds vs. 1. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Los Angeles Dodgers vs. 2. Atlanta Braves