Friday, July 19, 2013

Seven Bold Predictions For the Second Half of the MLB Season

With the All Star Break marking the unofficial halfway point of the baseball season, the second half of the season is upon us. Here is a list of possibilities for the rest of the year that seem far-fetched, but are all possible.

1. Chris Davis will hit 60 home runs

With 37 home runs already under his belt, Chris Davis has the most home runs of anyone in baseball. He is no longer swinging at as many bad pitches, which is evident by his walk rate at a career high, and his strikeout rate at a career low. His Orioles still have 66 games remaining, and if he can keep up his current pace, a 60 home run season for Davis is in the cards.

2. The Cleveland Indians will make the playoffs

The Indians haven't made the playoffs since 2007, but that could change this year. Sitting at only 1.5 games out of the division leading Tigers and only 3 games behind the second wild card, the Indians are in the thick of the playoff race. They are currently one of the best hitting teams in the American League, ranking fourth in runs scored. The Indians also have arguably the easiest September in all of baseball. In their final 23 games, the only teams they play are the Mets, Royals, White Sox, Astros, and Twins, making a postseason berth even that much harder to choke away. Then again, it's Cleveland, which in and of itself is enough of a reason to justify them having no real shot at all.

3. The Miami Marlins will not have the worst record in the National League

This should come as a surprise to nearly everyone, but the Marlins are 19-14 over their last 33 games. They have played much better since Giancarlo Stanton has returned from the DL, and their young starting pitching is improving. Jose Fernandez, Jacob Turner, and Nate Eovaldi continue to improve, and their bullpen has actually been surprisingly strong. With the Chicago Cubs looking to sell their veterans, don't be surprised if they fall beneath the Marlins in the standings.

4. Yasiel Puig will NOT win NL Rookie of the Year

Let me explain. Puig is currently hitting .391 with 8 HR and 19 RBI. Those numbers are outstanding. Over his last 12 games, however, he is hitting .267 with 0 Hr, 2 RBI and 14 strikeouts. Puig, like any other player, could be mired in a bad slump. More likely, though, teams are starting to figure him out. Unfamiliar players often have more success in the beginning of their careers due to limited information on them, but struggle when other teams create better scouting reports. Aside from this, rookie pitchers Jose Fernandez and Shelby Miller have put together very good complete seasons. Each of them have ERAs under 3.00 and have had more success in the majors than Puig thus far.

5. Cole Hamels will finish the season with a winning record

Entering the first year of his new contract, Cole Hamels was supposed to do big things this year. At 4-11 with a 4.05 ERA, however, his 2013 season has been a big disappointment. Hamels, though, is is 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA in July, and he has looked more like the pitcher of old. Hamels will balance out his underwhelming first half of the year with an extraordinary second half to bump his record over the .500 mark.

6. The New York Yankees will finish in last place in the AL East

The Yankees have been plagued with injuries all year, and with Derek Jeter returning to the disabled list, everything seems to be looking down for the rest of the season. Believe it or not, the Yankees have overachieved this season, currently sitting at 51-44. However, this team has given Travis Hafner (.218 avg, 12 HR, 37 RBI) the most ABs in the cleanup position, has been forced to make Zoilo Almonte an everyday player in their lineup, and has four starting pitchers with ERAs above 4.00. Simply put, this is not a winning team. This run they've had is unsustainable, and the Yankees will falter sooner rather than later.

7. The Pittsburgh Pirates will make the playoffs(!!!)

Considering the Pirates are 56-37 and just one game behind the best record in baseball, this prediction is not exactly bold. Even with that, this team was 54-40 last season, and they still managed to finish with a losing record! (20 in a row, for those counting.) Knowing that, any prediction of this organization in the playoffs is risky. What makes this team different from past years is that they currently have the best pitching in baseball, and they have more experience. If everything holds true to form, the Pittsburgh Pirates will be in the playoffs for the first time since 1992.

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