The All-Star break is ending and that means the real fun is just about to begin. Teams will be making their postseason pushes and others will become sellers and start building towards 2015. The craziest day of the baseball season is only 2 weeks away in the Trade Deadline and this year we could see some big names being dealt, like David Price. Now I know the All-Star break is not the exact half way point through the season but it’s the only time during the season where there is a 3 day break in the action. Here are my top 5 stories of the first half, along with my mid-season awards.
1. Year of the Pitcher
During the coverage of the All-Star game festivities, Red Sox manager John Farrell said in an interview that this season has been “The year of the pitcher” and if you look at the stats, it has been all about the pitchers. Heading into the break, 22 pitchers have an ERA under 3.00. Clayton Kershaw is this generation’s Sandy Koufax and he just came off a streak of 41 consecutive scoreless innings. It will be difficult to pick the CY Award in both leagues as there are multiple candidates worthy of winning the award.
2. Youth Taking Over the Game
It seems like every night there is a 21 year-old or 22 year-old making their major league debut. Manny Machado, Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Salvador Perez, and Bryce Harper are well known players that are all under the age of 25 years of age and all have been an All-Star selection at least once in their careers. This season we have seen rookies like Jose Abreu, Gregory Polanco, George Springer, and Masahiro Tanaka make their major league debuts and take the game by storm. Every year it seems like the game of baseball is becoming more of a young man’s game.
3. Number of Teams Still Alive
Heading into the second half, 4 divisions have only a game or a game and a half separating the first and second place teams. In the American League Wild Card hunt, 4 teams are within 3.5 games back from making the one game playoff. In the National League, 4 teams are within 3 games of making the Wild Card Game. The Tampa Bay Rays are 9.5 games back in the American League East and many analysts believe they are still in the mix. With a little over 2 months remaining in the season, any team is one run away from making a serious postseason push.
4. The Tommy John Plague
37 pitchers in the big leagues and minors have had Tommy John Surgery this season. That’s right, 37! It’s a terrible epidemic that I do not foresee changing anytime in the near future. It may have to be accepted that if you want to be a professional pitcher, you may have to miss a full season of your career and undergo TJ Surgery. Everyone wants to see pitchers like Masahiro Tanaka, Jarrod Parker, and Jose Fernandez dominate on the mound but unfortunately their arms cannot handle throwing 95+.
5. Big Free Agent Signings Struggling
Shin-Soo Choo: (7 / 130 M) .242 / .362 / .376
Brian McCann (5 / 85 M) .239 / .294 / .377
Ricky Nolasco (4 / 40 M) 5-7/ 5.90 ERA / .325 opp. AVG.
Ubaldo Jimenez (4 / 50 M) 3-8 / 4.52 ERA / 13.7 BB %
These four players were big targets entering the off-season and have struggled to find their previous forms with their new ball clubs. It is only half a season so it is not fair to judge them as a failure for their contract but it may be a sign to future teams that going after the players that demand big contracts may not be the best move for a team.
My Mid Season Awards:
American League National League
A.L. MVP: Mike Trout N.L. MVP: Andrew McCutchen
A.L. CY: Felix Hernandez N.L. CY: Clayton Kershaw
A.L. ROY: Jose Abreu N.L. ROY: Gregory Polanco
Biggest Surprise: Angels Biggest Surprise: Brewers
Biggest Disappointment: Red Sox Biggest Disappointment:Diamondbacks