By Andrew Fish Fain
The wait is finally over!!!! After 4 days of prodigious power displays, pitching clinics put on by some of the best in the game, the biggest (and really only) sports awards show and a day full of nothing but rumor and innuendo, the second half of the baseball season is about to return.
The first half was full of amazing surprises and stunning disappointment. We saw a pair of no hitters (Tim Lincecum and Homer Bailey), the Pittsburgh Pirates rise to relevance, Chris Davis hit homeruns at a staggering pace, Miguel Cabrera prove that last year was no fluke, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler give Mets fans hope, Shelby Miller & Jose Fernandez prove that young pitching is always going to be around, and Yasiel Puig proved to be both a lightning rod of controversy and a spark plug for the Dodgers.
But as Newton said, for every action, there is a definite and positive reaction. The reaction to all the positive that happened in the first half of the season is, of course the disappointments. The Blue Jays spent BIG money this off-season and made blockbuster deals and find themselves in last in the AL East. The Angels again got off to a slow start and are still trying to fight their way out of it. Speaking of the Angels, Josh Hamilton’s big contract there seems to be a bust right now. The Dodgers were buried until the middle of June, but have turned things around of late. The reigning World Champs have hit the skids this year with guys like Matt Cain letting them down, and now they have to dig themselves out of a huge hole.
Injuries, as always, have also played a large part in the shaping of the season. A-Rod, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Ryan Madson, Joel Hanrahan, Matt Kemp, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, and Chris Carpenter are just a few of the bigger names that have missed more games than they have played this season.
Of course, PED’s are rearing their ugly heads again. Suspensions will be handed down, and some really big names will be forced to miss a lot of time. However with the appeals process MLB currently has in place, most of those suspensions will not take effect until next season.
So the question is, what is to come in the second half? I have looked into my crystal ball and have several of the answers that you seek.
Miguel Cabrera will continue to tear the cover off the ball, while Chris Davis will come back down to earth and the MVP race will not be close by the end of the season.
Yasiel Puig will continue to amaze and will ignite the rest of the Dodgers to a first place finish in the NL West. Of course, it will be helped along by yet another blockbuster trade from the team with the deepest of pockets in the game.
The Pirates will break their 20+ year drought of finishing under .500, but will sadly fall short of the playoffs because both the Reds and Nationals will catch fire and claim the two wildcard spots.
Matt Harvey, Jeff Locke, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright will continue to dominate NL hitters and force one of the closest and best Cy Young races the game has ever seen.
Despite a phenomenal managing job by Joe Girardi, the numbers game will finally catch up to the Yankees and they will finish in last in the AL East.
Paul Goldschmidt’s breakout season will continue and while he will keep the D-Backs in the race, it will not be enough to get them to the playoffs, but it will be enough to win him the NL MVP award.
The Miami Marlins will continue to show their fans that while they are not quite ready to win, the team is in great shape for the future with some tremendous young talent.
The playoff spots will be filled with the following teams: A’s, Tigers, Rays will win their respective divisions, while the 2 AL Wildcard spots will be held by the Orioles and Indians. Dodgers, Cardinals and Braves will win their divisions while the Reds and Nationals will be the 2 NL Wildcards.
Of course, after all the surprises that happened in the first half, you just never know, and THAT’S why they play the games.