However before I do, I think it makes sense for me to recap the first half of the season. I think a neat (yeah I said neat) way to do that would be to hand out some midseason awards. So here we go.
Surprise Team of the Year:
There’s no surprise with this pick. I laughed when I heard they took the Devil out of their name in an effort to do something for this cursed franchise, but hey, I guess the jokes on me now. The Rays enter the break a game behind the Red Sox in the AL East and at times held the best record in the majors this year. But does their 7-game losing streak before the midsummer classic hint at a possible fish fry in the second half?
Disappointing Team of the Year:
I had to turn this category into disappointing teams rather than team, because their both just that disappointing. The Indians, fresh off their trip to the ALCS, now find themselves at the bottom of the AL Central. And with each regular season game that passes, the Indians find themselves deeper and deeper in a hole. In the final days of the first half, the Indians dropped 10 games in a row, and saw their long-time ace, C.C. Sabathia, depart.
The Feel Good Story: Josh Hamilton
If Josh Hamilton didn’t have the hearts’ of baseball fans before the All-Star break, after the Home Run Derby, he certainly does. Just two years removed from the streets and black abyss, Josh Hamilton is sitting on top of the world. The once heralded greatest MLB prospect of all-time is finally showing the world just why. After a long battle with drug addiction, specifically heroine, Josh has turned his life around and is sitting atop the baseball world. Recently voted as the second best player in Major League Baseball, behind the Yankees Alex Rodriguez,
AL Cy Young: Cliff Lee / Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez
At 13-2 with a 2.29 ERA and 110 strikeouts, the AL All-Star starter Cliff Lee is the clear early favorite for the AL Cy Young award. Lee started off the year practically untouchable, with an ERA below 1.00 through his first nine starts. Since then, his ERA has slightly risen, but his dominance hasn’t skipped a beat. Lee is the only bright spot on the last place Indians. Francisco Rodriguez isn’t the clear favorite, but in many ways probably should be. Rodriguez, also known as “K-Rod”, is the closer for the Los Angeles Angels. It’s not everyday you see a reliever win the Cy Young, but this guy might really deserve it. With 40 saves in 43 chances, K-Rod is much of the reason the Angels hold the MLB’s best record. He’s been just as valuable to his team as any other ace in the
NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum
Lincecum, the only good thing the Giants have to talk about, is 11-3 with a 2.79 ERA and 143 strikeouts. The young gun has dominant stuff and has almost been unhittable this year. Then again, he needs to be with the lack of run support he receives from the Giants. Edison Volquez and Ben Sheets are right up there in the running, but I think Lincecum has been the most dominant thus far.
The Rangers “Big 3” has been dominant this year. They make up the heart of the order of the lineup that leads the MLB in offense. I apologize for the indecisiveness, but they all seem to be equally valuable to their team, and as of right now, the true MVP is too close to call between the 3. Their ability to come through both in the field and at the plate is above and beyond the rest of the
NL MVP: Lance Berkman
Berkman has been the most consistent all-around star of the first half. Although Utley was the front-runner for this honor early on, he seems to have slowed a little as of late. Berkman is batting .347, with 21 homers and 73 RBIs. Add 79 runs scored and you have a heck of a baseball player. Look for Berkman to keep up the consistent play and finish the year with an NL batting title, falling short once again of the triple crown. Ryan Howard should give him no chance of winning the home run and RBI titles.
With my awards handed out, it is time to make some predictions for the second half. Here’s a look at how I think the standings will play out.
The defending champion Red Sox have showed no signs of slowing down, and with slugger David Ortiz due back in the next few days, the Sox chances of making the playoffs should only increase.
With a late surge in the closing weeks of the first half, the White Sox appear to be the favorite in the AL Central. Their pitching has improved and their hitters have responded to Guillen’s outburst a few weeks ago. Look for them to outlast the Twins and hold off a late surge from
The Angels were the fastest team to 60 wins and hold the MLB’s best record. In the last few years, the fastest to 60 has had great success through the playoffs. I would expect the Angels to keep that trend alive. A Harden-less
Call me crazy, but I think they can do it. Sure my fan-hood makes me cynical, but I don’t really care. It was just a week or two ago I declared them done, but I’ve changed my mind.
This is the pick I am most unsure about. The Phillies appeared to be the best team in the NL East a few weeks ago, but as of late they have struggled. Combine that with a sudden resurgence in the Mets, and the Phillies might not have enough to take them down. In a déjà vu effect, I see the Phillies coming on late to hold off an underachieving Mets team yet again.
The Cubs have slowed down somewhat, but they still have a lead in the NL Central. Zambrano is back from injury, and with the recent addition of Harden, the Cubs seem to have the best playoff pitching rotation in baseball. When Soriano returns in the near future, the Cubs should look poised to end their 100 year curse.
The Diamondbacks hot-start is history, and the Padres and Giants would probably struggle in the College World Series. Unless the
In a Wildcard race as tight as can be, I look for the Brewers to prevail. The Cardinals consistent play and the Mets/Phillies offense and timely pitching should keep them in the race, but the Brewers pitching should give them the edge. With the acquisition of C.C. Sabathia it seems the Brew Crew has the final piece of the puzzle to turn this squad into a playoff team. Throw in the former face of the franchise, Ben Sheets, and an underrated lineup, and you could see the Brewers make a run in the playoffs.
Images taken from Yahoo! Sports