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The second half of the MLB season starts this Friday July 14th and here are some storylines to get you through the dog days of summer for every team and award predictions.
Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox currently have the third best record in the AL but they come into the all star break with three losses in their last four games. Their biggest issue? Third base, Sandoval and/or Peralta just aren’t cutting it maybe their problem can be resolved with their top prospect Rafael Devers expected to be promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket soon. Also, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that the Red Sox have “keen interest” in all star reliever Pat Neshek.
New York Yankees: The Yankees finished the first half of the season at 45-41, 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox but are first in the wild card standings.Aaron Judge is quite possibly the new face of baseball.He ranks first in the American League in WAR and OPS and is a early MVP and ROTY favorite.While I believe he will easily win ROTY I think he will drop off a little and not win MVP.They are reportedly in the race for White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana . The recent call up of top prospect Clint Frazier should excite Yankees fans he hit a walk-off home run Saturday becoming the fifth youngest in Yankees history with a walk off. The other four? Mickey Mantle 2x, Joe DiMaggio, and Melky Cabrera.Pretty good company to be in if you ask me.
Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays finished the first half of the season at 47-43 3 1/2 games back in the AL East. With the Rays still in wild card contention don’t look for them to make any major moves. Corey Dickerson and Logan Morrison have really emerged this year.Expect the Rays to be buyers at the deadline they are in need of a left handed reliever like Brad Hand.Something else to be excited about is Rookie Jake Faria, who’s off to a hot start at 4-0 while pitching at least six in innings in each of his six starts. While I don’t expect them to win the AL East they should be in the running for a wild card spot.
Baltimore Orioles: The Baltimore Orioles finished the first half at 42-46, 7 1/2 games back in the AL East.Manny Machado has had a dreadful start to the season (.230 BA, 18 HR,47 RBIs, .741 OPS) While Jonathan Schoop has really emerged with a stat line of .295 BA, 18 HR, 54 RBIs and .883 OPS. Also, Mark Trumbo is having a down year with only 14 home runs this year to put that into retrospect he had 28 at this point last year.Expect them to be buyers but not get anything done while they are 4 games out of a wild card sport they are not a good team they are 8-11 in their past 19 games.
Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays finished the first half of the season at 41-47, 8 1/2 games back in the AL East.According to Jon Herman of FanRag sports the Toronto Blue Jays and two other teams are mentioned to be in hunt for Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon. Who would be a good replacement for currently injured second basemen Devon Travis but I don’t see them making a deal with the sudden emergence of young second basemen Whit Merrifield.
Cleveland Indians: The Cleveland Indians finished the first half of the season at 47-40 first place in the AL east by 2 1/2 games.Corey Kluber has looked really good this year with an MLB best 2.84 ERA. If anything they should be in the market for a catcher look for names like Carlos Ruiz and AJ Ellis to be in the trade discussion. But the biggest story is the breakout season of my MVP candidatethird basemen Jose Ramirez with an OPS of .988 he’s top ten in the MLB in that category and in the discussion for AL MVP.Expect them to be a major postseason contender.
Minnesota Twins: The Minnesota Twins finished the first half of the season at 45-43, 2 1/2 games back in the AL Central. While they have been a quiet success and postseason contender they really need starting pitching while they recently signed “Big Sexy” Barolo Colon it’s like covering a leak in a dam with a bandaid. They have a team ERA of 4.95 which ranks second to last in the AL. The Twins are actively shopping for pitchers. They are looking at players like Jose Quintana, Sonny Gray, and Dan Straily.
Kansas City Royals: The Kansas City Royals finished the first half of the season at 44-43 three games back in the AL Central.Jason Vargas is the big story here he missed most of the 2016 season recovering from Tommy John surgery but has played at an all star level this season.Also, Mike Moustskas has been a quiet surprise he’s top ten in the MLB in HR.They are another team who is actively shopping Marlins second basemen Dee Gordon.They also have reportedly scouting Phillies all star reliever Pat Neshek
Detroit Tigers: The Detroit Tigers finished the first half of the season severely underperforming at 39-48 and eight games back in the AL Central.Expect them to be sellers at the trade deadline with guys like Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera. But, the tigers are asking for too much for Verlander as he is an aging pitcher with a pricey contract at $78 million dollars over the next three years. The trade rumors have gotten so bad that Cabrera told reports Sunday that the rumors that have swirled around the tigers organization have become tiresome and the players have to address them daily. He has been quoted saying “If they are going to trade me, trade me.”
Chicago White Sox: The White Sox finished the first half of the season at 38-49 nine games back in the AL Central.Expext them to be sellers at the trade deadline. They have a very high price tag in any deal for left handed Jose Quintana. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports the White Sox have sought two very top prospects.The Houston Astros and New York Yankees are the most interested teams currently for Quintana.The thing that the White Sox should most be looking forward to is the possible call up of prized shortstop prospect Young Moncada.
Houston Astros: The Houston Astros finished the first half of the season at an AL best 60-29 their division lead is already up to 16 1/2 games.They have absolutely been on fire with 3 possible MVP candidates being Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and star pitcher Dallas Keuchel.George Springer is my dark horse in the discussion for AL MVP.They are on pace for 109 wins. Expect them to make a deep postseason run.
Texas Rangers: The Texas Rangers finished the first half of the season at 43-45, 16 1/2 games back in the AL.Jim Morosi reported that the Rangers are telling teams that not only are they not going to sell at the deadline, but they might try to buy. While 16 games behind the Astros for the division they are only three games back in the wild card race. This weekend Adrián Beltré became the 6th player in MLB history with at least 450 HR, 600 doubles, 5,000 total bases. If you want to see a future first ballot hall of famer play watch the Rangers.
Los Angeles Angels: The Los Angeles Angels finished the first half of the season 45-47, 16 1/2 games back in the AL West. They are only 3 games out of the wild card race and have done so without the best player in the league Mike Trout. Look for the reigning AL MVP to return to the Angels on Friday after missing 39 games with an injured thumb. He could be in the discussion for AL MVP again if he hits like he did before his injury .They are another team actively shopping Marlins second basemen Dee Gordon.
Seattle Mariners: The Seattle Mariners finished the first half of the season at 43-47, 17 1/2 games back in the AL West and four games out of a wild card spot.The team has started looking for long term pitching.They have two good starting pitchers in Felix Hernandez and James Paxton but behind them the team has struggled to find solid pitching with an ERA of 4.76.
Oakland Athletics: The Oakland Athletics finished the first half of the season at 39-50, 21 games back in the AL West.Many teams are asking smith starting pitcher Sonny Gray but since Gray is under club control for two more years their asking price is steep. I also expect a playoff team to trade for veteran Yonder Alonso as he has been on fire and is a all star this year .
Washington Nationals: The Washington Nationals finished the first half of the season at 52-36 leading the NL East by 9 1/2 games. They have a great starting lineup with stars like Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, and Ryan Zimmerman not to mention a all star pitching duo of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. The Nats are focused on upgrading their bullpen one possible trade would be for Reds closer Raisel Iglesias.Expect them to make a deep playoff run.
Atlanta Braves: The Atlanta Braves finished the first half of the season at 42-45, 9 1/2 games back in the NL East.During June the braves have been one of the best teams in baseball. Star player Freddie Freeman has recently come off the DL and has hit in all six games he recently has moved his starting position from first base to third base.Look for current ace Julio Teheran to be in many trade discussions.
Miami Marlins: The Miami Marlins finished the first half of the season at 41-46, 10 1/2 games back in the NL East. Look for the Marlins to be sellers at the deadline with players like Dee Gordon and AJ Ramos.David Samson has taken blame for the recent struggles of the Marlins and has talked about selling the team.Derek Jeter is even reportedly looking to buy the team.
New York Mets: The New York Mets finished the first half of the season at 39-47, 12 games back in the NL East. One of the reasons they have been so bad is because their star out her Noah Syndergaard who has been on the disabled list since late April with a torn right latissimus muscle. Pitching coach Dan Warren said Sunday that he is set to begin throwing in two weeks which could mean a return in late summer. The team is open to the idea of using him in relief when healthy.
Philadelphia Phillies: The Philadelphia Phillies finished the first half of the season at 29-58 and are last place in the NL East. Expect them to be sellers at the trade deadline. They have a valueable trade commodity in All star reliever Pat Neshek. He has a 1.31 ERA in 37 appearances.Other players that are on the Phillies trading block are Jeremy Hellickson, Howie Kendrick, Joaquin Benoit, and Daniel Nava. It’s safe to say that the Phillies will have a fire sale at the deadline trying to acquire prospects.
Milwaukee Brewers: The Milwaukee Brewers finished the first half of the season at 50-41 leading the NL central by 5 1/2 games.Expect the Brew Crew to be buyers as they attempt to make a postseason run look for them to try and acquire pitchers like Sonnt Gray and Julio Teheran. They lead the league in Homeruns mostly in part to first basemen Eric Thames who is having a great breakout season.They have six players with at least 10 homeruns tied for most among NL teams.I don’t expect them to keep this up or make the playoffs as they’re just 10-11 in one run games and 3-7 in extra inning contests.
Chicago Cubs: The Chicago Cubs finished the first half of the season at 43-45 5 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central.Expect them to be buyers at the trade deadline as former Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said on MLB Network Radio on Tuesday that the Chicago Cubs had called the Detroit Tigers about young starting pitchers Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris.The Cubs have a serious case of a Championship Hangover.No team has been a bigger first half disappointment than the Cubs. With that being said expect them to get hot in the second half. I firmly agree with Rizzo when he said ” the best is yet to come.”
Saint Louis Cardinals: The Saint Louis Cardinals finished the first half of the season at 43-45 5 1/2 games out of first place.While the Cardinals have underperformed it seems like the Cardinals baseball factory is rolling again as rookies Luke Voit and Paul DeJong are off to a hot start. As Voit is now slugging .793 in 14 games and Dejong is at .606 in 35 games.I think many teams will call about young stud pitcher Carlos Martinez but the Cardinals will ask for too much in return.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pittsburgh Pirates finished the first half of the season at 42-47 seven games back in the NL Central.Flame thrower Felipe Rivero has had a breakout season for the Pirates his ERA is below 1.Mnay playoff teams aching for a lefty reliever will call for him.The Pirates have a great feel good story in pitcher James Tallion he was a second round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft then he was diagnosed with testicular cancer since coming back he is 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA in five starts.
Cincinnati Reds: The Cincinnati Reds finished the first half of the season at 39-49 9 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central.While they have had a bad season so far they might have the best hitter in baseball Joey Votto leads the NL in Home Runs while posting a very high OBP. Teams have been calling for Riasel Iglesias but what they would ask for return would be “astronomical” according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The Los Angeles Dodgers finished the first half of the season at an MLB best 61-29, leading the NL West by 7 1/2 games.The Dodgers have won 26 of their past 30, 17 of their past 20 and nine of their past 10. They’re on pace to win a 110 games. Their biggest story is Rookie Cody Bellinger who has been absolutely on fire and almost a virtual lock for NL Rookie of The Year.Not to mention their starting first basemen Adrian Gonzalez comes back from the DL soon. Expect them to make a deep postseason run.
Arizona Diamondbacks: The Arizona Diamondbacks finished the first half of the season at 53-36 7 1/2 games out of first place in the NL West.Paul Goldschmidt is the NL WAR leader and is in the discussion for NL MVP. He is hitting .315 with 19 homeruns he is on pace to beat his career best of 36 homeruns. The only trade they would try to get is for some veteran relievers like Fernando Rodney and Pat Neshek expect them to make a deep playoff run.
Colorado Rockies: The Colorado Rockies finished the first half of the season at 52-39 9 1/2 games out of first place in the NL West. While the Rockies have a great record the bullpen is 24th in OPS while putting up a 4.94 ERA. Because of this they have been linked to showing interest in Miami Marlins relief pitcher AJ Ramos.They are looking like buyers coming into the trade deadline. They can make a deep playoff run if they bolster their bullpen behind Greg Holland.
San Diego Padres: The San Diego Padrs finished the first half of the season at 38-50 22 games out of first place in the NL West.Expect the Padres to be sellers because they really don’t have a good chance of making the playoffs. One player that will be involved in trade discussions is 34 year old starting pitcher Jered Weaver he has a 7.44 ERA in nine starts for the Padres before landing on the disabled list. I expect some playoff team to think they can suddenly revive his career.
San Francisco Giants: The San Francisco Giants finished the first half of the season at 34-5) 27 games out of first place in the NL West.The Giants are in pace for their first 100 loss season since 1985.Andrew Baggerly of Mercury News recently reported that, ” The Giants are less interested in acquiring low level prospects as much as major league ready players or youngsters on the brink of being called up.”
AL MVP: Jose Ramirez- Since June 14 he leads the majors with a .440 batting average and a whopping 1.370 OPS.While many people will choose Judge I really don’t expect him to keep it up. Need I remind you of what happens to players after they participate in the home run derby.
NL MVP:Joey Votto – He ranks third in baseball with 26 homeruns, second with a .631 slugging percentage, and fourth with a .427 OBP.
Darkhorse: Paul Goldschmidt
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale- leads the league in DRA, FIP, strikeouts, and he’s allowing fewer hits per nine innings than any other starter .
Dark horse: Jason Vargas
NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer- First in the MLB in ERA, WHIP, and FIP
Darkhorse: Alex Wood- He has given up no runs or one run in eight of his past nine stats and is undefeated with ten wins
AL Rookie of the year: Aaron Judge- Judge could probably take the second half off and still win rookie of the year
NL Rookie of the year:Cody Bellinger – Has 25 HR, 58 RBI, and an OPS of .961 despite having about 50 less at bats then any other everyday starter.