MLB Midseason Report Card

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Jul 13, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla (26) celebrates a solo home run with third baseman Chris Johnson (23) in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves seem to be doing everything correctly thus far in ’13, especially with the division lead as the All-Star break arrives. They are 13 games over the .500 mark, with a lead of six games over second-place Washington, who were the preseason favorite to win the division.

Atlanta seems to be a balanced team offensively with Freddie Freeman leading the BA category at .308 in 81 games played, good enough to get the final fan vote for an All-Star selection. Freeman also leads his team in RBIs at 61.

Justin Upton leads the Braves in runs at 59, and Dan Uggla has the home run lead at 18, followed by Upton at 16.

Does any team have the luxury at catcher that Atlanta does with Brian McCann and Evan Gattis?

Paul Maholm and Mike Minor each have nine victories, and Craig Kimbrel has collected 26 saves in 29 opportunities.

I feel the break came at the right time for the Braves, as they now have time to heal from a couple injuries, and if they continue to hold off the Nationals, they will be back in the postseason.

Team MVP: Justin Upton (LF) — The reason I pick this Upton brother is the fact he’s in the team top three in five major offensive categories: BA (2nd), runs (1st), HR (2nd), RBIs (2nd) and stolen bases (3rd) with six.

To be quite honest, the Washington Nationals team hasn’t lived up to its preseason buildup or its play from one season ago. I know they’ve had major stars land on the DL this season with Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper spending time off the field with injuries.

Do I feel this team can challenge the Braves for the top spot in the division? Yes. Although it will be tough for them to overcome the balance of the Braves as well, the young Nationals club is capable of doing so if they keep their health up.

Besides needing both Harper and Strasburg to stay healthy, the Nationals have seen good production from Ian Desmond offensively (more on him later) and Jordan Zimmermann on the mound.

If healthy, the Nationals can battle with the Braves, but nobody can predict injuries, especially with some players on this club.

Team MVP: Ian Desmond (SS) — The shortstop has the best BA on the team at .281, along with the lead in runs at (43), home runs (15) and steals (10). He’s second on the team in RBIs with 49.

This is an average team, and their record is proof of that. They, like every other team, have  battled the injury bug at times this season, most recently seeing Ryan Howard and Ben Revere landing on the DL.

This team has a mix of youth and veterans, with the youth beginning to take over the lead roles in Revere and Domonic Brown, along with top play from veteran Michael Young as those three lead the BA for the Phillies.

I can’t say I’ve watched a lot of Phillies baseball, but they had their struggles against the last-place White Sox entering the break, and compared to past seasons, this Phillies team doesn’t look as good as they have been, trailing the Braves by 6.5 games.

Cliff Lee leads the team with 10 wins, in ERA (2.86) and in strikeouts at 125, followed by Cole Hamels at 118. Third is Kyle Kendrick at 74.

TEAM MVP: Domonic Brown (LF) — The Phillies left fielder has been a surprise this year as he had a .273 BA (third on the team) with 49 runs (1st), 23 home runs (1st), 67 RBIs (1st) and eight steals (3rd).

Is this a case of the same ol’ New York Mets, or a case of them trying to rebuild for the future?

The team isn’t built for this season, but they have a core of players who could be a part of a Mets turnaround, especially with their pitching in Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler and even Dillon Gee.

They are 11 games out of first place, and from the looks of their division, I don’t see them going any higher in the standings.

This team does have David Wright batting .304 and in the top three of most offensive categories.

Still, this year seems to be the same ol’ Mets.

TEAM MVP: David Wright (3B) — In 90 games this season, the third baseman of the Mets has 50 runs on 105 hits (21 doubles, five triples), along with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs. He also has collected 15 stolen bases.

Everyone saw this coming before the season ever started, right?

In July, the Marlins are 6-7, and playing almost .500 baseball in a month is an improvement for them.

There really isn’t much to say about this team, is there? If any organization has earned a grade, it is this one, as they are 23 games under the .500 mark and trail the Braves by 18 games.

TEAM MVP: Jose Fernandez (P) — This season, he’s 5-5 overall in 18 games started. In 104.2 innings, the rookie hurler has an ERA of 2.75, holding opponents to a BA of .196 with a WHIP of 1.08.