What To Watch For In The Second Half
The first “half” of the season is over. After 90+ games, a less-than-thrilling all-star break, and some serious surprises, the stage is set for a dramatic conclusion to the MLB season. Rather than making a bunch of predictions, it seems more prudent to just list the story lines that we will all be watching for over the last two and a half months of baseball.
“Crush” Davis Chasing Maris
The Orioles’ first basemen came into the break on fire, with home runs in his last four games, so at that pace it would hardly be surprising if Davis managed to reach the 60-homer plateau. However, calculations made at FanGraphs.com estimates that Davis only has an 8.6 percent chance of hitting 61 homers, and a 6.4 percent of hitting 62. If he manages to keep up his blistering pace, the debate about whether Roger Maris or Barry Bonds holds the actual regular season home run record should come to the forefront of MLB discussions. Chris Davis’ run at history could provide some positive press for a sport that is still (Biogenesis) dealing with the negative implications of PED-usage. He has already stated that he believes Maris is the true record holder, as well as avidly denying that he has ever used PEDs, so it’s possible that Davis could become the poster boy for clean slugging in baseball.
Can Puig Keep It Up?
Even Puig has grown weary of debates about whether he was deserving of an all-star berth, and that discussion is mercifully over. Yet the discussion about the Cuban defector’s worthiness as N.L. Rookie of the Year is sure to arise as long as he continues to produce at such a high level. Puig went 0-4 on Friday night, lowering his average to .391, however he managed to make a couple of spectacular plays in right field, including a laser to throw it Bryce Harper at third (he was incorrectly called safe). As long as he doesn’t start to slump at the plate consistently, Puig should have no problem surpassing young pitchers such as Jose Fernandez and Shelby Miller on his way to the award.
Will The Bucco’s Bust Again?
Is this year different from the last two times that Pittsburgh had a great first half? Will they stay the course and earn a Wildcard berth in the National League? Probably not without some help. The Pirates’ pitching has been incredible, with a combined ERA of 3.09 and a 1.19 WHIP to go along with a lights out bullpen that is anchored by all-stars Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli. However they also possess one of the worst offenses in the majors. Pittsburgh is hitting .230 with runners in scoring position, they’re ranked 25th with only 360 total runs scored, and are near the bottom of the league in OPS. The Bucks have depended on the long ball on their way to a 56-38 record, but that is not necessarily sustainable. That’s why they’re pursuing Hunter Pence, according to CBSSports.com, in the hopes of adding some pop to their underwhelming lineup. If they manage to succeed at the trade deadline in an unfamiliar role as buyers, the Pirates will make quite a stir amongst their fan base.
Will The Empire Fall?
The New York Yankees have been synonymous with winning since the mid-1990s, but now they have a few more negative associations. Due to a number of unfortunate injuries, an underwhelming pitching staff, and an inflated payroll, General Manager Brian Cashman has already begun to consider packing it in for the 2013 season. The Yankees have nearly always competed for a championship over the past 20 years, but this year may be different. If they can’t get their payroll under the $189 million luxury tax threshold by the start of next season, they will have to pay nearly 50 percent of that payroll in penalties. The inherent return of controversial (former) star Alex Rodriguez will only complicated their financial situation, and no one else is willing to take on his Albatross of a contract. As strange as it is to see the Pirates looking to buy at the deadline, it may be even stranger to see the Yankees trying to unload salary before the end of July.
Posted on July 20, 2013, in 2013, Dodgers, Orioles, Pirates, Yankees and tagged Barry Bonds, Chris Davis, Hunter Pence, Jose Fernandez, Mariano Rivera, MLB Trade Deadline, New York Yankees, Roger Maris, Shelby Miller, Yasiel Puig. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.