It has been an exciting first half of baseball so far this season. As Phillies phans, it is great to see our team with the best record at the all-star break. The most memorable first half moment has to be Wilson Valdez pitching a scoreless inning in the 19inning marathon win over the Reds. And you can’t forget the 1st half’s put together by Halladay, Hamels and Lee. But the 1st half was full of great moments for all baseball fans. It offered us a pair of no-hitters, a player’s 3,000th hit and two walk off grand slams. Throughout the first half, the pitching has been able to dominate the hitters more than usual. The amount of pitchers that can throw in the upper 90’s is staggering. With the steroid era now hopefully behind us, I would expect to see the pitchers to continue this trend.
In late February I gave a division by division analysis and made predictions on how I thought the season would go. If you want to look back and critique my predictions, click here. I’m going to look at each division so far this season and give some analysis on how I think the 2nd half will go. I will post my February prediction and then give my pick as a see it right now.
February Prediction: Red Sox (97 wins)
Current Prediction: Red Sox (97 wins)
Boston’s poor start to the season had a lot of people trying to back off their preseason predictions. A team with their overall talent will win games; it was just a matter of time. Their pitching was overrated going into the season and this has been their weakness throughout the first half. But they still should be the favorites in this division during the 2nd half. They have one of the most potent lineups in the game (as long as they can use the DH). Their pitching is still better than the Yankee’s and this should be enough to stay ahead of New York.
The Yankees rotation has been a lot better than I thought it would be. They have received huge contributions from ageing veterans Colon and Garcia. I think this Yankees team is similar to the NY teams that failed in the postseason over the last decade. Besides Sabathia, they lack a dependable starter and I think this will be the ultimate reason for their downfall in October. The Rays have a good team but sadly for them they are in the division as the two best teams in the league. In another division, they might have a chance at the postseason but not in the AL East. Regardless of who wins this division, Boston and New York are going to the postseason, but I think Boston as the slight edge right now.
February Prediction: White Sox (93 wins)
Current Prediction: White Sox (89 wins)
The Indians were able to jump out to a hot start but they have come back to earth recently. They go into the break a half game behind Detroit for the division lead. I’m still not buying into the hype and I expect their struggles to continue into the start of the 2nd half. Despite the poor 1st half by Chicago, I still expect them to win the division. This is largely because of the lack of a dominate team in the division as I don’t think the Tigers or the Indians are great teams. The White Sox have been able to hang in the race despite a horrible first half from slugging DH Adam Dunn. He is too good of a hitter to continue with his current numbers and it’s just a matter of time until he breaks out. In the end, I think it will be a close race between Chicago, Detroit and a surging Minnesota team but the White Sox will prevail.
February Prediction: Rangers (93 wins)
Current Prediction: Rangers (93 wins)
The Rangers have been able to overcome a fair share of injuries during the 1st half and are still leading the West. Their impressive lineup has been a large reason for their success but a bigger reason might be the 1st half’s of 2010 relievers and now starters Alexi Ogando and Matt Harrison. Both starters have ERA’s around 3 and have combined for 16 wins. They have stepped up in the departure of Cliff Lee and have lessened the pressure on all-star and number one pitcher C.J Wilson. The Angels have been lead by their two superb starting pitchers Jered Weaver and Dan Haren. If the Angels can get some more consistent offense, they will be able to stay with Texas until the end.
February Prediction: Yankees (93 Wins)
Current Prediction: Yankees (95 Wins)
February Prediction: Phillies (103 Wins)
Current Prediction: Phillies (103 Wins)
The Phillies have proved throughout the first half that they are the class of this division. Their starting pitching has been great but could be even better during the 2nd half if they get a few players off the DL. Oswalt has dealt with multiple things during the 1st half and clearly wasn’t the pitcher he was last year when he was placed on the DL last month. Right now the Phillies are on pace to win 101 games and the scary part is they normally play their best in the 2nd half of the season. If everything clicks for this team, 110 wins is not unrealistic but still very unlikely.
I was on the Marlins bandwagon at the start of the season and their June quickly put an end to their playoff chances. A major reason for their downfall was the injury of Ace Josh Johnson. At first it was just thought to be a minor injury but it has now taken most of his first half and he might not return for the rest of the season. They have won 5 games in a row going into the break but their 3 wins in June have dug them to deep a hole. The Braves have had a great first half and have put themselves within shouting distance of the Phillies. Jair Jurrjens has been incredible so far this season but I expect his numbers to rise during the 2nd half. He is a good pitcher but he will finish the season with an ERA around 2.60. The Braves won’t have enough to stay with the Phillies but they are still one of the best teams in the league.
February Prediction: Brewers (93 Wins)
Current Prediction: Brewers (93 Wins)
The biggest story of the 1st half in the central is the play of the Pittsburgh Pirates. They have shocked the baseball world and are just 1 game behind the Brewers and Cardinals in the division. While Pittsburgh has a better team than they typically do, I still think they are just the 4th best team in this division. It has been a great story but I don’t think they will play in the postseason. The Brewers acquired Francisco Rodriguez late last night. They now have 3 solid starters, 2 very good pitchers at the back of their pen and a very formidable lineup. I expect the Brewers to slowly run away the division and win the Central by 4 or 5 games.
February Prediction: Rockies (93 Wins)
Current Prediction: Rockies (89 Wins)
I strongly considered making a change to the division winner but I ultimately decided to stay with my original prediction. The Rockies have had a poor start to the season and many might feel they are already out of the race. They are 5 games under .500 and 8.5 games behind the Giants. But they have always been a strong second half team and I expect them to do the same this year. Ubaldo Jimenez has had a poor start and I expect him to rebound. The loss of Buster Posey will continue to affect the Giants in the 2nd half. He was their best hitter and perhaps the leader of their team. I have a hard time believing Ryan Vogelsong will be able to duplicate his amazing first half. It will come down to the end, but I think the Giants 2010 magic will run out.
February Prediction: Marlins (92 Wins)
Current Prediction: Braves (94 Wins)
Red Sox defeat White Sox in 4
Rangers defeat Yankees in 5
Phillies Defeat Rockies in 3
Brewers Defeat Braves in 5
Red Sox Defeat Rangers in 5
Phillies Defeat Brewers in 5
PHILLIES DEFEAT RED SOX IN 6!
World Series MVP: Roy Halladay