MLB: Ranking the top storylines of the first half

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 31: Craig Kimbrel
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 31: Craig Kimbrel /
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CHICAGO, IL – MAY 31: Craig Kimbrel. MLB.
CHICAGO, IL – MAY 31: Craig Kimbrel. MLB. /

Well folks, today is the All Star game. We’ve had plenty to talk about during the first half of the season, from breakout performances to surprise contenders to the slumping Cubs. Let’s rank the top storylines of the MLB season so far.

With the MLB All Star break comes the non-waiver trade deadline shortly thereafter. Before the excitement of the trade season envelops us all, I thought it would be fun to rank some of my top storylines from the first half of the season. By no means is this list likely to fit perfectly with everyone else’s, nor will it have all of the usual suspects (don’t worry Yankee fans, Aaron Judge is on the list), but for my money these have been the most click bait topics on my Twitter feed.

Before we get into talking about the storylines that made it, I wanted to go over some of those that didn’t quite make the cut in short order.

The emergency ward that is the entire Mets roster. With nearly their entire rotation on the shelf, the Mets (39-47) are having a rough season. It’ll be interesting to see how they approach the deadline.

  • Yonder Alonso has hit 20 home runs, breaking his previous career-high of nine before the break and earning the A’s lone All Star nod. He hit ten home runs in May alone, and on May 9 he set that new career-high with a two homer game, which gave him 11 on the season.
  • Pat Neshek

    , 36, has a 1.27 ERA with the Phillies, is walking a career low per nine innings and is striking out more than a batter an inning. He’ll almost certainly be on the move in the coming weeks.

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  • Hey you know who used to be really really good, then wasn’t as good, and now is like really really good again? If you followed that sentence and somehow guessed Craig Kimbrel, you’re right! He has a 1.19 ERA, is walking just 1.2 per nine and is striking out a ridiculous 13.6 per nine.
  • You know who has been kinda okay for most of their career but could be dominant at times and is now dominant like all the time? Jason Vargas! He leads all AL starters in wins (12) and ERA (2.62). That’s better than Chris Sale on both fronts, and in terms of ERA, better than everyone besides Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer, who seem to be duking it out for the title of best pitcher in the game this season. Vargas’ 3.79 FIP indicates that some regression could be coming in the second half, but he has been one heck of a pitcher for the Royals this season.
  • Ichiro Suzuki has surpassed Rod Carew for the most hits by a foreign-born player, notching hit number 3,054 in the big leagues right before the break. He has been a joy to watch for so many years, and the hits just keep coming.
  • Finally, there’s Eric Thames. The Brewers signed “god” after he spent three years in Korea playing ball and mashing dingers. While he has cooled off after batting .345 with 11 homers and 19 RBI in April, he’s still managed to get on base at a solid clip and be a big part of the Brewers’ powerful offense. With a few days off to clear his head, Thames could be back to mashing come Friday.
  • You’re obviously wondering what could have possibly made the cut (again, Aaron Judge has) after some of those intriguing storylines. Well, come find out!