The MLB All-Star break is always a good opportunity for teams, fans and pundits like myself to look back at the half-season that was, and forward at what’s to come.
That’s why I’ve decided to look back at my early season predictions and see how they’re holding up while also looking ahead and making some fresh predictions for the second half of the MLB season.
So clearly, my appetite for making a fool of myself with bold predictions is insatiable. That’s the only possible explanation for why I’m getting back on the horse after striking out like Adam Dunn in the first half of the year.
But, much like Mr. Dunn himself, if I get a hold of one of these suckers… look out.
So first, let’s check in on how my first batch of predictions are holding up at the midway mark.
1. The New York Mets Will Win The 2016 World Series – Still a chance here, although beating the Cubs or Giants or Nationals seems like more of a stretch than it did at the beginning of the year at this point.
2. Alex Rodriguez Will Hit 30-plus Home Runs… AGAIN! – I doubled-down and apparently got burned here. It would take a historic performance from the 41-year-old Rodriguez to make this one come true.
3. Pablo Sandoval Will Key A Late/Postseason Red Sox Run – No comment.
4. Kris Bryant Will Have A Better Year Than Bryce Harper
Kris Bryant – .286 AVG, 25 HR, 65 RBIs, .384 OBP
Bryce Harper – .256 AVG, 19 HR, 52 RBIs, .399 OBP
Close, but I think I’ve got one there.
5. Matt Harvey Will Win NL Cy Young Award – LOL.
6. The Detroit Tigers Will Win The AL Central – 6.5 back of the red hot Indians and in the middle of a logjam, don’t like my chances but we’re not dead yet.
7. The St. Louis Cardinals Will Miss The Playoffs – The Pirates entered All-Star weekend on a tear and with two teams likely to make the playoffs in the NL East and NL West, this could very well happen.
Now that we’ve reopened that wound sufficiently, let’s begin the healing process by throwing more predictions out into the ether for the second half of the season.
1. Giancarlo Stanton Will Propel The Marlins Into A Playoff Berth And Beyond
On June 2, the Miami Marlins were sporting a 29-25 record and were just four games back of the Washington Nationals. Heading into their game against the Pirates that night, Stanton’s average was a paltry .210 and he had 63 strikeouts on the year already.
Now, here are his splits of late, courtesy of MLB.com.
Last 30 Games – .270 AVG, .333 OBP, .539 SLG, 8 HR, 23 RBIs, 40 SOs
Last 15 Games – .298 AVG, .385 OBP, .702 SLG, 6 HR, 16 RBIs, 20 SOs
Last 7 Games – .370 AVG, .452 OBP, 1.037 SLG, 5 HR, 10 RBIs, 9 SOs
Home Run Derby – 61 Home Runs (Had to throw that in there, because, wow.)
Point is, folks, Stanton is catching fire. The Marlins are 47-41, their starting pitching, led by the indomitable Jose Fernandez, has been rock solid, their young core of guys like Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto have been thriving and Ichiro continues to defy the conventional wisdom that age slows you down.
Add it all up and you have a Marlins playoff berth.
2. At Least 10 Players Will Hit 40-Plus Home Runs For The First Time In 10 Years
You could file this one under ‘not so bold’ if you’d like, but I think it deserves its place here due to the magnitude of the accomplishment.
Last year, we finished just shy of 10 guys hitting 40 dingers by one as nine different players reached the storied number. But this year it’s going to happen since there are 18 players who are already halfway there and enter the All-Star break with at least 20 home runs.
If you include guys who are at 19 home runs, that number grows to 27 players.
Last year, only 12 players were at 20-plus home runs and only 17 with 19 or more.
The last time this happened was the 2006 season, when 11 players accomplished the feat. And just in case you were wondering, two of them could find themselves in the 40 home run club again this year. That’s David Ortiz and Carlos Beltran at the ripe old ages of 40 and 39, respectively.
God speed, gentlemen.
3. The Orioles Will Miss The Playoffs
The O’s have been one of the better stories in baseball this year. Many projected them to reside towards the basement of the American League due to their lack of starting pitching and Westgate sportsbook had them at 60-1 odds of winning the World Series.
As it stands right now, the Orioles are 51-36 and sit atop the AL East. Unfortunately it won’t last, for the reasons everyone thought it wouldn’t.
While Chris Tillman has been solid the first half of the year (12-2, 3.41 ERA), he’s the only Orioles starter with an ERA under 4.00 and besides Kevin Gausman, is the only pitcher who’s registered a quality start in at least half of his starts.
Point being, the Blue Jays are lurking close behind as are the Red Sox, two teams less reliant on the long ball with more stout rotations. The rotational issues are going to catch up to the O’s and will cost them a playoff berth.
4. Daniel Murphy Wins The NL Batting Title And NL MVP…
… Forcing all Mets fans to permanently enter into a state of suspended reality in which they can forget that Daniel Murphy was ever a Met and/or that he just won a batting title/MVP award/division title for the arch-rival Washington Nationals.
As tantalizing a storyline as Murphy’s revenge campaign against the Mets has been this year, that’s hardly the entire story. The real story here is this is a guy, a 31-year-old middling ball player with above average hitting for his entire MLB career, who is almost single-handedly willing the Nationals to victory on a nightly basis whenever Max Scherzer has a night off.
He’s batting .348, has an already career-high 17 home runs, 66 RBIs and shows no sign of slowing down. Jose Altuve is having a special season as well and could theoretically catch Murphy for the league-wide batting title without the Nats’ 2nd baseman dropping off too severely, but I like Murphy to win all of the aforementioned hardware when September hits on the NL side.
5. The Dodgers Will Miss The Playoffs
Clayton Kershaw is a superhero, but he lacks the sidekick he needs to put him over the top. Last year it was Zack Greinke and unfortunately this time around Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias haven’t been able to fill those massive shoes. Though they likely will eventually, not yet.
Corey Seager has been a revelation at shortstop for the Dodgers, but ultimately, Kershaw can only do so much every fifth day. This team just isn’t deep enough pitching or hitting wise as they’ve shown through their middling hitting performances and poor pitching results without Kershaw on the hill.
On top of that, the NL is deep and the Giants have seized first place and aren’t looking back. Sure, Kershaw may win a Cy Young award and an MVP award, again, but it won’t be enough to get the Dodgers into playoff contention.
Bryan Altman is, for some reason, an unabashed fan of the Rangers, Jets and Mets. If he absolutely had to pick a basketball team it would be the Knicks, but he’d gladly trade them for just one championship for any of his other three teams.