The All Star Break has come and gone and the second half of the season begins tonight so its time to make my obligatory predictions for the second half of the season.
The AL East has been the most competitive division in baseball through the first half with Baltimore, Boston, and Toronto only sepperated by 2 games and the Yankees lingering at .500 just a minor miracle away from playoff baseball. This is the toughest division to predict by far as not only are the teams close in record, but all will likely be active at the trade deadline to land the piece that can get them over the hump. Most likely the team that wins this division will be the team that wins the trade deadline, but for now my prediction to win is Toronto. Of the three teams the only Toronto has an above average pitching staff, ranked 7th in the majors in ERA (3.76). All three teams can absolutely mash, so the pitching down the stretch will be the difference maker. I think their biggest contender will be the Red Sox, and if they can land a quality-top of the rotation arm will be my pick to win the division.
Prediction: Blue Jays
In the central I like the Indians. Although I’m apprehensive to expect any sort of success from two Cleveland teams in the same year, a 6.5 game lead with the best pitching staff in the ERA is tough to pick against. The Royals will probably make a run at it in their normal miracle team fashion, but the Indians will hold on.
The Rangers have established a solid 5.5 game lead in the West backed mostly by their 20-8 June and their sixth ranked offense in the majors. I expect Houston to surpass them in the second half of the year. Texas sputtered into the break and doesn’t have the balance that Houston does to make a push down the stretch. Bonus prediction: at least one more right hook by Rougned Odor.
Regardless of who wins the AL East I like the other two of the Orioles, Red Sox, Blue Jays to win the two wild card spots. They are all staked on offense and will all probably be strengthening their rotations and bullpens giving them the edge they need to make the playoffs.
AL Rookie of the Year: Michael Fulmer, SP Detroit Tigers
A rare win for the city of Detroit. Fulmer is having a great year second among rookies in innings pitched and sporting a 2.11 ERA through 12 starts. The most likely contender is Nomar Mazara the RF from the Rangers. He’s batting .282 with 11 HR at the break.
AL Cy Young Award: Danny Salazar, SP Cleveland Indians
Another win for Believeland! Danny Salazar is putting together an awesome season for the Indians, 2nd in ERA, 6th in strikeouts and 5th in wins despite starting 17 games opposed to the 19 of most other top starters.
AL MVP: David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox
Probably biased as a Sox fan in one of my all time favorite player last season, but Ortiz has been unreal this year. Ortiz ranks first in the AL in OPS, Slugging Percentage, OBP, and Doubles. Is second in AVG, and RBI, and is 6th in HR. Despite being a DH and a DH never winning the award before, I think Papi gets a little love from the BBWA with a lifetime achievement bonus for how tremendous his last season has been.
I will be posting World Series predictions and NL Predictions sometime tonight or tomorrow.