Baseball’s two day hiatus is finally over, and I bet all of you are extremely excited to get back to some baseball action. The official, unofficial start to the second half begins today.
I am psyched for what should be an amazing second half of the baseball season. To preview the second half, I have decided to do five predictions for the second half in this wonderful MLB season.
The first half for the National League was extremely predictable, as I am pretty sure everyone predicted to see the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies at the bottom of the NL East, the Pittsburgh Pirates winning the NL Central, and the Los Angeles Dodgers contending most of the season with, arguably the best player in baseball, Matt Kemp on the disabled list.
Of course, in the American League, everyone saw Mike Trout carrying the Los Angeles Angels to the postseason, the Baltimore Orioles being contenders and looking to be buyers. It was pretty obvious to everyone when the Detroit Tigers signed Prince Fielder that the AL Central would be led by the Chicago White Sox at the mid point in the season.
For the second half, I am going to tackle some things I see happening. Any predictions made about what will happen in a baseball season should be considered bold, because, well as we saw in the first half, baseball is the most unpredictable sport. Too much goes on every season for anyone to ever be right about their predictions.
Whether you care about the Phillies or not, this has been the biggest headline of the 2012 season. Everyone in baseball is intrigued about where Phillies superstar pitcher, Cole Hamles, will land. There has been a lot of chatter lately about the Phillies shopping Hamels around and trying to get a big package of prospects in return.
The more that I think about it, I cannot see the Phillies trading the most important piece of their franchise. The Phillies have led Major League Baseball in attendance for the last two seasons and still have the talent on their roster to turn things around.
I predict that before the deadline, the Phillies will come to terms on a mega extension with Hamels. I predict that he will resign with the Phillies on a 7-year deal worth about $168 million.
While the Phillies come to terms with their star left handed pitcher, they will realize that they are not going to be able to resign their center fielder, Shane Victorino and will look to deal him. The Los Angeles Dodgers lost out on Carlos Lee, as he had no interest in moving his family to the LA area. The Dodgers are still seeking a hitter to add alongside Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Victorino will fit right in with the Dodgers and boost an offense that struggled quite a lot in the month of June.
2. Mike Trout will lead the Los Angeles Angels over the Texas Rangers for the NL West crown and win the Most Valuable Player award.
This sounds like a crazy prediction, right? Well, the Angels only trail the Rangers by four games in the American League West. It is arguable that the Angels have more talent then their division foes, the Rangers. Both teams are also poised to make some big trade deadline trades.
Part of this prediction for me making this prediction is that I see Zack Greinke landings with the Angels and bolstering that pitching staff. Albert Pujols was able to find his game in the month of June and should have a monster second half, where everyone will remember why the slugging first baseman received the type of contract he got in the off-season.
Even with all this, the most important player for the Angels going will be their most valuable player in the first half, Mike Trout. I know it seems far-fetched to think that a rookie can win the Most Valuable Player award, but judging by Trout’s first half, he is a special kind of rookie player.
At just 20 years old, Trout led the American League and finished third in all of Major League Baseball with a WAR of 4.8. It might be crazy to believe a rookie at the age of 20 can continue this type of season all year long, but count me in as a believer in Trout. He has been a real treat to watch so far, and he should only get better going forward.
Baseball fans need to take notice and enjoy watching this young kid blossom into a superstar.
3. The Tampa Bay Rays will hold a mini-fire sale.
The Rays are currently sitting in good position for a playoff spot, in the standings. But a deeper look shows that the Rays season might be in some trouble. The team has been without their best player, Evan Longoria, since April 30th. The slugging third baseman has been out for over two months with a torn hamstring. With his most recent setback coming in June, I do not see Longoria making a huge impact for the Rays the rest of the way.
The Rays front office will also figure this out and decide that without a 100% Longoria, the Rays chances of contending become a long shot. Thus, the team will decide to have a mini-fire sale, in which they will trade away a couple of players that could leave the Rays anyways, via free agency after the 2012 season.
Those players will be Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton. In return, the Rays will likely seek Major League ready players that can step up in 2012 and beyond to be strong contributors with the Rays going forward.
4. The Detroit Tigers will take control of the AL Central and win the division by double digit games.
This is not an indictment of the Chicago White Sox, as I have been convinced by that team that they are a good team. But I believe that the Tigers can be a great team. The Tigers have one of the most talented overall teams in baseball and I see them turning things around, and fast.
Austin Jackson has become one of the best players in baseball, in a surprising first half MVP type of performance. While I doubt Jackson can repeat those same numbers in the second half, he will still be a huge player for the Tigers going forward. Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera should continue being the super star players that they are. The Tigers pitching staff is not particularly strong, but is good enough to hold the fort for an offense that can provide the team with plenty of runs in a hurry. It also helps to have a Justin Verlander type player on your roster.
The Tigers also figure to be strong players on the trade market. The Tigers seem to be interested in going for it all now, and it seems that every prospect expect Nick Castellanos, will be available. Look for the Tigers to make a big splash and land someone like Matt Garza to pitch behind Verlander.
5. My predictions for playoff teams in the second half:
AL East: New York Yankees
AL Central: Detroit Tigers
AL West: Los Angeles Angels
AL Wildcard #1: Texas Rangers
AL Wildcard #2: Chicago White Sox
NL East: Washington Nationals
NL Central: Pittsburgh Pirates (I am a believer)
NL West: San Francisco Giants
NL Wildcard #1: Atlanta Braves
NL Wildcard #2: Los Angeles Dodgers
Some of those predictions may seem crazy, but those are my predictions and I will stick by the them. I still have hope that my Miami Marlins can turn things around and become a playoff team, but I cannot see it right now. The loss of Giancarlo Stanton for 4-to-6 weeks after knee surgery seems to be a too huge of a loss for the Marlins to overcome.
I hope you guys enjoyed my predictions, I beg you though, please do not bring these back up at the end of the season and make fun of me for being so inaccurate.
Topics: Albert Pujols, Andre Ethier, Austin Jackson, B.J. Upton, Carlos Lee, Carlos Pena, Cole Hamels, Evan Longoria, Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Verlander, Matt Garza, Matt Kemp, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Prince Fielder, Shane Victorino, Zack Greinke