Midseason Baseball Report: Disappointments, Surprises, and What to Look for in the Second Half of the Season
We’ve hit the midway point of the Major League Baseball season and there is plenty to discuss. In the first half of the season, we didn’t get to see Derek Jeter play, but did get to read about 50 articles per day updating us on his every move (shocking). There were some surprising teams (Pittsburgh) and some disappointing teams (Washington). But what stood out the most was the incredible performance by Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers. He’s taken Los Angeles, and the baseball world, by storm since being called up in early June.
There were some things that were not surprises. Miguel Cabrera continues to make pitchers look like amateurs. He’s somehow managed to improve upon his Triple Crown winning season. But somehow he’s not the clear-cut favorite to win the AL MVP. Baltimore’s Chris Davis is putting up one heck of a fight. Unfortunately, the biggest story this season has been a negative. Of course, I’m talking about the ongoing alleged steroid distribution saga that involves 18+ players including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun.
I’m not going to get into the steroid issue in this article. To be honest, I’m annoyed of the story. Instead, I’m going to cover the pleasant surprises, disappointments, and what I expect to see the second half of the season. Let’s start with the pleasant surprises which must include the Pittsburgh Pirates. If you claim to have projected their impressive start you are either lying or a Pirates die-hard fan. Their pitching staff is lights out.
Another surprising team has been the Oakland A’s thanks in large part to the play of Josh Donaldson. The A’s don’t have many big bats but they get on base and prevent opposing hitters to get on base. No one thought they would duke it out with the Rangers for the AL West lead. There’s still a lot of baseball to be played, but you have to think Oakland is going to factor into the AL West title until the end. Now let’s move onto the disappointing teams…
The LOST Angeles Angels of Anaheim
In 2012, the Angels signed Albert Pujols to the second largest contract in pro sports history. This past off-season, they went out and signed Josh Hamilton to a lucrative contract. Pujols underachieved last year and has regressed further this season. Hamilton is just plain lost at the plate. He’s sporting an OPS under .700 and striking out at an alarming rate. The Angels let Ervin Santana go in the off-season and he’s sporting an ERA under 3 for Kansas City. They could use him right about now. Their pitching staff leaves a lot to be desired.
Maybe the Nationals Shouldn’t Have Shut Strasburg Down Early Last Year
Remember the debate of whether or not the Washington Nationals should shut Stephen Strasburg down early last year? Hindsight is always 20/20, but the Nationals are proving this year that there are no guarantees in baseball. Just because a roster appears to be built for long-term success doesn’t mean they will keep winning. Washington had a great year last year and appeared to be poised to win big in this year with Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman back. But they’re merely an average team that will likely miss the playoffs. Perhaps they shouldn’t have shut Strasburg down early last year and cashed in.
San Francisco Not Very Defensive of Their Title
For whatever reason, Bruce Bochy simply cannot find that magic button he had last year and in 2010. The Giants are a mess and no one saw this coming. They aren’t getting on base or hitting for power. Even worse, their starting pitching is a disaster. Tim Lincecum just doesn’t have it anymore. This is two consecutive mediocre seasons in a row for the guy that was one of the best pitchers in baseball for quite a while.
How I Expect the 2013 to Play Out
There are two teams that I think will fade late in the season – Oakland and Pittsburgh. Neither team has the offense capable of beating out the competition. Detroit will end up running away with the AL Central division and Justin Verlander will get back to his dominating old self. There are no clear-cut best teams in either league this year but I predict the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves will face off in the World Series, with the Braves winning it all.