I know that technically, the second half started a long time ago, but this is when we get a look at what teams will really look like down the stretch. Now there are still guys like Pedro Martinez out there to be signed, but for the most part, we know what to expect. So ahead, we get to look at the races, the regular season awards, and much more. Get ready, baseball fans, October is coming.
The Yankees and the Rays look like locks to make the playoffs to me. The Red Sox are getting Josh Beckett back, but the Rays and Yankees have been the two best teams in the East, and probably baseball, for much of the year now. The Yankees will win the division, as expected, and the Rays will need some nerves to hold the Red Sox off for the Wild Card, but I think they can do it. The East is really just a bloodbath. If Toronto or Boston was in the West and played those teams over and over, they would clean up, but they are stuck with the Evil Empire and the loaded little engine that could. Tough luck for them, but they will be watching the playoffs from their couches this year.
I am going to stick with my pick of the Twins, though I would not be too surprised if the White Sox were able to hold them off. The Twins went and got their bullpen help in the form of Matt Capps, and I would not count them out for Pedro either. Remember, these are hardly the small-market Twins of the past. I just have a feeling that it is going to come down tot he final day yet again here with potential for another one game playoff. It is really a toss up for me, but I will stick to my original pick preseason and go with the Twins to win the central.
At this point, if the Rangers lose, it is a monumental meltdown. They are making all the moves, holding all the cards, and pulling away from the now 3rd placed Angels. Cliff Lee gives them legitimacy at the top of the rotation, and they have added great depth with Jorge Cantu. I would once again not count them out for Pedro’s services, although money is very tight in Texas right now. It is worth noting that Oakland, one of my sleepers this year, is really making a push, but it will end in a moral victory and no playoffs.
MVP: Miguel Cabrera (DET) Honorable Mention: Josh Hamilton, Robinson Cano
Cy Young: David Price (TB) Honorable Mention: Cliff Lee (a very close second), Felix Hernandez, Jon Lester
Rookie of the Year: Austin Jackson (DET) Honorable Mention: Brennan Boesch (DET), Carlos Santana (CLE)
Manager of the Year: Ron Washington (TEX)
Yankees over Twins in 3
Rangers over Rays in 5
Yankees over Rangers in 6
Now here is where things get interesting. The Mets are pretenders like we thought, but the Braves and Phillies look poised to fight to the death. 2nd is not a comfortable option either with Cincinnati in the picture and threatening to even upset the Cardinals (more on that in a moment). Roy Oswalt is in Philadelphia now, and if the hitting keeps up, we could see the second-half-surge Phillies we are used to. You might ask why they did not just keep Cliff Lee, and Ruben Amaro Jr. does not have an answer there, but as they move forward, they have a great shot at fighting to the death with the division leading Braves. I think the Phillies will win the fight, and will keep as close to possible with my preseason prediction with the Braves barely making it to the playoffs.
Unfortunately, elation for the Braves means bad news for the Reds of Cardinals. They are locked in one of the better battles in baseball right now for Central supremacy, and it is pretty hard to separate the two at the moment. Will the upstart Reds upset Cardinals hegemony, or will the Cards hold off the feisty young challenger? I can honestly say I do not know for sure. I tend to lean toward the Cardinals because they have been there before, but if Pujols gets hurt or the bullpen has a rough week, it could very easily swing the Reds way. I will ultimately go with the Cardinals, but it is going to be one hell of a race. For that matter, that is true of the whole NL.
I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but the Padres have this wrapped up. Their pitching is lights out (though Latos could be shut down as he is on an innings count), and their hitting is just good enough to get them where they want to be. Now, there is definitely some luck at play here as Troy Tulowitzki’s injury was perfectly timed to knock the Rox out of contention, and the Dodgers offensive swoon timed up with playing the Padres, but you have to credit the Padres at this point. They are the best team in that division, and though the Giants are sticking around, I just can’t see them catching the Padres.
MVP: Joey Votto (CIN) Honorable Mention: Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Howard,
Cy Young: Josh Johnson (FLA) Very Honorable Mention: Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jimenez, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Tim Hudson, Mat Latos (if he wasnt on an innings count)
Rookie of the Year: Jaime Garcia (NL) Honorable Mention: Stephen Strasburg (WAS), Mike Leake (CIN), Jason Heyward (ATL), Buster Posey (SF), Gaby Sanchez (FLA), Great year for NL rookies and pitchers.
Manager of the Year: Bud Black (SD)
Phillies over Cardinals in 4
Padres over Braves in 5
Phillies over Padres in 6
WORLD SERIES PREDICTION
I said it at the start of the season, and although it happened in a much different way than I thought, I am sticking to my beginning of the year pick.
Phillies over Yankees in 7\
See? The All-Star Game matters.
TO SEE MY BEGINNING OF THE YEAR PREVIEWS, CLICK HERE