Results tagged ‘ David Price ’

What Can We Expect from the Red Sox In 2016?

When the Red Sox finished in last place in 2012, not many people predicted too much from them the next year, but they went on to win the 2013 World Series. Following their championship, there were a lot of expectations out of the Sox in 2014, but they once again finished dead last in their division. With Boston not faring any better this David Pricepast season, there is little guarantee as to where they will wind up when the 2016 season comes to a close.

But the Red Sox made a big splash in the free agent market on Tuesday evening, acquiring David Price for a record breaking contract. Price was signed to a seven year, 217 million dollar contract, locking him up in Boston through the 2022 season, and possibly for the rest of his career, with him being 30 years old.

The mega deal makes Price the highest paid pitcher in Major League Baseball history, beating out Clayton Kershaw’s 215 million dollar deal. His annual value of 31 million a season is over four times what Price earned in 2015, so it is undoubtedly a happy day for David Price.

But it’s also a happy day for Boston and their fans. While there are plenty of people who would say the Red Sox vastly overpaid for Price (I could easily see anyone making that case), there is no doubt that Price, who holds a 1.95 career ERA at Fenway Park, will ultimately help the Sox push towards the playoffs after another disappointing season in 2015.

One of the things that held the Red Sox back last season was their lack of good starting pitching. Their collective team ERA of 4.31 was 25th in all of baseball in 2015, with none of their starters having good, consistent years. Price, who spent the first six seasons of his career with Tampa before heading to Detroit in 2014 and the Blue Jays for the second half of 2015, holds a 3.09 ERA and went 18-5 with a 2.45 ERA last season alone. He will definitely prove to be a bettsbogaertsvaluable addition.

On the flip side of things, the Sox offense was somewhat under the radar decent. They were able to post a .265 team average on the year, which tied them for fifth best in all of baseball. If their additions of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval from last offseason can have bounce back seasons, combined with further contributions from their young stars Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr., as well as veterans Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, they could have a special season.

With David Ortiz already announcing that he will be retiring after the 2016 season, it should be interesting to see how the Red Sox perform next year. They have a few more things that need to be addressed to help their club overall for next season, but I like the signing of Price, as well as the pickup of Craig Kimbrel earlier this offseason, and the general direction that those moves take them.

No matter what happens, acquiring David Price for the next seven years is sure to make for some exciting seasons to come up in Boston.

Keuchel and Arrieta Win Cy Young Award

The Cy Young award — named after the Hall of Fame pitcher who died in 1955 — was first handed out in 1956 to Don Newcombe, with the goal of recognizing the “most valuable pitcher” from each season. The first eleven years of the award saw one pitcher per year receiving the honor, but in 1967 the Cy Young began being handed out to a pitcher from each league who was voted on as the best from the season.

Voting for the award is fairly straightforward.

Two writers from each city of both the American League and National League make up the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voters for the Cy Young award, making a total of thirty voters for each league (fifteen teams, with two voters per city). A first place vote earns a player seven points, a second place vote gets four points, a third place vote receives three points, a fourth place vote is worth two points, with a fifth place vote earning a single point. Once added up, the player with the highest overall total wins.

The 2015 Major League Baseball Cy Young award winners for both the American League and National League were announced Wednesday night on MLB Network. Here are the winners, along with my thoughts on each:

AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG

Original Pick: David Price

Finalists: Sonny Gray, Dallas Keuchel and David Price

Winner: Dallas Keuchel

Thoughts On Dallas Keuchel Winning

Things couldn’t have been any closer statistically between Dallas Keuchel and David Price. Keuchel posted a 2.45 ERA on the season compared to Price’s 2.48 mark; Keuchel won 20 games, while Price netted 18; Price won in the strikeoutDallas Keuchel race, but only by a total of nine punchouts. To make a long story short, their seasons were nearly identical.

Because of the close race, I unsuccessfully picked Price to win, but Keuchel ultimately had a slight edge by pitching 232 innings that included three complete games and two shutouts.

In addition, Keuchel set the record for most games won at home in a single season without a single loss, with 15 (the previous record was 13). For those reasons, the end result wasn’t as close as many had predicted.

Dallas Keuchel won the Cy Young award fairly easily, receiving 22 of the 30 first place votes for a total of 186 points, with David Price coming in second with 143 points and 8 first place votes, and Sonny Gray coming in third with a total of 82 points.

The season Dallas Keuchel had was inarguably unbelievable, and it should be very interesting to see if he can keep it up moving forward. Keuchel becomes the first Astros pitcher to win the Cy Young award since 2004, when Roger Clemens won the honor.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CY YOUNG

Original Pick: Jake Arrieta

Finalists: Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw

Winner: Jake Arrieta

Thoughts On Jake Arrieta Winning

As close as the American League Cy Young race was, the National League side of things was even closer. With Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw all having terrific seasons in vastly different ways, it was difficult to pick between them for who was most deserving.Arrieta

Even so, it was Arrieta who wound up winning the National League Cy Young award. While Greinke’s 1.66 ERA was unfathomable, and Kershaw continued his dominance with 301 strikeouts, Arrieta did something in the second half of the season that I feel truly put him over the top in the Cy Young voting.

Following the All-Star game, Arrieta went on a stretch never before matched in the history of the game. Arrieta posted a mere 0.75 ERA over the entire second half of the season, bringing his ERA down to 1.77 on the year, and ultimately was a big factor in the Cubs making the postseason.

Jake Arrieta got 17 total first place votes for a collective 169 points, barely beating out Zack Greinke’s 147 points including 10 first place selections, and Clayton Kershaw who received three first place votes of his own but finished third with 101 points.

The fifth Cubs pitcher to ever win the award, and the first since Greg Maddux in 1992, Arrieta continues the Cubs’ offseason award winning streak. With Kris Bryant winning the Rookie of the Year and Joe Maddon picking up the Manager of the Year award, the Cubs become the first team with three major award winners since the Mariners in 2001.

With this year’s Cy Young award race being the closest it has been in years, it makes everyone around the baseball world begin to look ahead to the 2016 season. The best teams are usually the ones with great pitching, and it should be fun to see how Dallas Keuchel and Jake Arrieta, and their respective teams, do in 2016 and beyond.

Recap of My Votes for the 2015 MLB Major Awards

Over the past week, or so, I’ve been typing up individual posts on who I feel most deserves the awards of American League and National League Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and Most Valuable Player. I was planning to post the awardsAwards for each on back to back days, with a day in between, but I decided to publish them on six consecutive days instead.

Some of the choices were easy, while others took a great deal of debate. But in the end, I went with my gut of who I feel deserves each award the most.

In case you missed a few (or all) of my Major League Baseball award posts, I wanted to do a brief recap. Although there are a couple of picks that people will likely disagree with, this is just the way I would vote if my vote had any say.

Here are my picks that I made for each category:

American League Rookie of the Year: Carlos Correa

National League Rookie of the Year: Kris Bryant

American League Cy Young: David Price

National League Cy Young: Jake Arrieta

American League MVP: Josh Donaldson

National League MVP: Bryce Harper

Feel free to click the links associated with each award to be taken to my post on it, giving the full reasoning behind my picks. I’m planning to post a blog entry covering the winners of each award when they’re announced towards the middle of next month, comparing my original picks to the winners and giving my overall thoughts, so be sure to check back for that when the time arrives.

My Vote for 2015 A.L. Cy Young Award

Each year there are usually several pitchers from each league that have incredible seasons, making it difficult to choose between them for who most deserves the Cy Young award. This year is no different. The American League saw Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Dallas Keuchel and David Price all having great seasons. However, in the end, only one player can take home the Cy Young award.Price

Chris Sale had a terrific year, setting the all-time strikeout record for a White Sox pitcher with 274, but he is the least likely to win it of the players on this list. Despite his amazing strikeout number, Sale’s 3.41 ERA barely broke the top 10 in the American League, and therefore won’t give him the Cy Young.

On the other hand, Chris Archer does in fact have a chance. Admittedly, it’s a small chance, but his number deserve recognition. Archer posted a 3.23 ERA this season over the course of 34 starts and struck out a respectable 252 batters, giving him true Ace status for the Rays. Even so, this isn’t the year he wins the top pitching award in my mind.

It comes down to David Price and Dallas Keuchel for me, with either one having a strong case for the award. In the end, though, I had to just pass on Keuchel. Although he had an amazing year for the Astros, helping them make the playoffs, he didn’t quite have the numbers, even with his 2.48 ERA.

For me, the difficult but correct choice for the 2015 American League Cy Young award — and likely controversial selection — is the Blue Jays’ star pitcher, David Price. While Price wasn’t overly dominant all season long, his 2.45 ERA was the lowest of his career. While things are going to be very close between Price and Keuchel, I just have to give it to Price, who was a big part of the Blue Jays’ squad this season.

Blue Jays Headed for Playoff Run?

At the beginning of the season, I didn’t see the Blue Jays doing much of anything in 2015. In fact, I had the Yankees, Red Sox and Orioles all finishing ahead of them in the standings. But it seems that I will turn out to be very wrong when all is said and done.

The Jays currently sit second in the American League East, just behind the surprisingly dominant Yankees by four and a half games. As recently as a week ago, Toronto was six games back of first, and two out of the American League wild card. MLB: Kansas City Royals at Toronto Blue JaysNow, after a terrific recent stretch of games that includes a four game winning streak to date, the Jays are in line to make the playoffs for the first time since 1993 when they won the World Series.

When the season kicked off in April, the Blue Jays were given a 27 percent chance of making the playoffs, but now they sit at a respectable 65 percent. The remaining schedule the Jays have left isn’t a cakewalk by any means, but if the Jays can continue their hot streak things could get very interesting down the road.

Although the Jays were already having a decent year before the trade deadline, a big reason for their recent run can somewhat be attributed to their acquisition of Troy Tulowitzki and David Price.

With Tulo in the lineup, the Jays take a dangerous middle of the order and turn it into a dangerous entire lineup from the very first pitch. Likewise, Price adds depth to their rotation, and should be able to help power their team forward as the year progresses.

No matter whether or not the Blue Jays end up making the playoffs — after all, there is close to two months still remaining — just the idea of it is enough to excite the fans around Toronto and around the baseball world in general. But if things continue to roll for the Jays and they make it into October, they could turn out to be a very formidable team to take on in a playoff series where anything can happen.

Things Heating Up As Trade Deadline Looms

Over the past week or so, trades and rumors of trades have been taking place right and left. Although things are still bound to happen, with the trade deadline not until Friday afternoon, here’s an overall recap (most of the trades, but not every one) of what has happened so far, with my thoughts on each:Kazmir

Back on the 23rd, two of the first impactful moves were made. The Brewers’ Aramis Ramirez was sent to the Pirates in return for minor leaguer, Yhonathan Barrios, and the Astros acquired Scott Kazmir from the Athletics in exchange for Daniel Mengden and Jacob Nottingham. The following day, the Marlins moved Steve Cishek to the Cardinals for the addition of Kyle Barraclough.

For the most part, I felt all of those trades were productive ones. The Brewers are out of it this season, and sending Ramirez to the Pirates will likely benefit them moving forward as they push towards the hope of a postseason spot. The Marlins sending Cishek to another team makes a lot of sense to me as well, as Cishek used to be dominant for Miami, but has struggled somewhat this year. Hopefully a change of scenery will help him out.

Of the three deals, the Scott Kazmir one will undoubtedly be the one that has the most impact this season. With the Astros in first place, Kazmir could really be crucial in helping them hold on to make the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

But while those few trades were somewhat beneficial, a major move took place Sunday, with Johnny Cueto being shipped to the Royals in exchange for cash and minor league pitchers Cody Reed, Brandon Finnegan and John Lamb. After reaching the World Series last year, only to fall short in game seven, there are a lot of people who feel that Cueto can help them win it all this year. While that remains to be seen, Cueto will assuredly be a big impact for them the remainder of the regular season into October.

As far as what the Royals gave up from their farm system, Finnegan is the type of guy who is immediately ready to make an impact, even though he was sent to Triple-A. Finnegan came up big in the postseason for the Royals last year, and he, along with future impact pitchers Cody Reed and John Lamb, should be able to help the Reds turn things around in the years to come.

Tuesday turned out to be a big day as well in the trade market, as several impact trades took place.

On the lesser impactful side of things, Ben Zobrist was sent to the Royals for Aaron Brooks and future star Sean Manaea, with Jonathan Papelbon finally getting moved, sent to the Nationals for Nick Pivetta. The Zobrist move should help the Royals, as will the Cueto move, leading to another deep playoff run this season. In the same way, the acquisition of Papelbon as the Nat’s closer should help them be able to lock down games at the end, despite already having a good Tulocloser in Drew Storen, who now becomes their setup man.

However, while those were good moves, the one that had everyone talking on Tuesday was the swap of Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins to the Blue Jays in return for Jose Reyes, Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman and Jesus Tinoco. Of all of the trades thus far, I feel this is the one that makes the most sense for both sides.

Although the Jays supposedly needed a pitcher at the time, you can never complain when you pick up an impact bat like Tulowitzki and a veteran reliever in Hawkins. Likewise, the Rockies look to be headed in a good direction, as Reyes is a fine replacement for Tulowitzki, and all three prospects, especially the highly hyped Jeff Hoffman, will help them down the road.

But while most trades go through without a hitch, one deal went down on Wednesday that ended up falling through. The Brewers planned to sent Carlos Gomez to the Mets for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores, but concern with Gomez’s hip (now reported as a financial issue, too) caused the deal to be called off. Obviously an unfortunate set of circumstances, as both teams would have benefited from the deal.

Nonetheless, trades continued to happen. Thursday saw a blockbuster, three-team swap that involved numerous players. The Dodgers picked up Mat Latos and Michael Morse from the Marlins as well as Alex Wood, Bronson Arroyo, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan and Jose Peraza from the Braves. In exchange, the Marlins received Jeff Bringham, Victor Araujo and Kevin Guzman from the Dodgers, with the Braves getting Cuban star Hector Olivera, Zack Bird and Paco Rodriguez. The Braves also received a competitive-balance round draft pick from Miami.

To me, the trade doesn’t make a lot of sense to anyone but the Dodgers. For them, they made out with a ton of talent. But Miami merely picked up a few decent players, with the Braves receiving the same. Although time is the only thing that can tell whether a trade turns out to be a good or bad one, this trade seems to be one sided.Hamels

Another big deal went down on Thursday as well, with Cole Hamels (along with Jake Diekman) finally getting moved after months and months of trade rumors surrounding him. Hamels was sent to the Rangers in exchange for Matt Harrison and prospects Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, Jake Thompson, Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff.

In the short term, the Rangers should see an instant boost in their rotation, as Hamels has been one of the top pitchers around baseball for the past numerous years. In the long term, however, the Phillies could see the prospect they picked up helping to turn their current subpar squad into a postseason potential team once again. All five prospect are expected to be big time impact players in the majors, and they should all be able to help within the next few years.

Finally, one of the biggest trades of the day on Thursday saw David Price getting moved once again. This time, Price was sent to the Blue Jays in exchange for prospects Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt. With Price being one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past several years, he will inevitably help out the Blue Jays, who are currently sitting at .500, seven games back of first place.

With around 24 hours remaining until the trade deadline arrives, things should continue to stay exciting, with a big deal having the chance of taking place at any given time.

Oakland Athletics Continue Their Offseason Overhaul

It may be a brand new year, but it’s proving to be the same old Athletics.

A team known in recent history for their offseason trades and signings that leave them with a completely different looking ball club from one year to the next, the A’s have once again used the offseason to this point to make a EscobarZobristlot of moves (some good, some bad) to change up the overall structure of their team.

The most recent case coming on Saturday with the trading away of John Jaso and a couple of top prospects, in Daniel Robertson and Boog Powell, to the Rays in exchange for Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar, who will both help what has the potential to be a good A’s team in 2015.

Despite losing John Jaso, who was a solid player for the Athletics in 2014, as well as Robertson and Powell, the A’s got back a fairly good package in return.

After an extended period of trade rumors surrounding Ben Zobrist, a transaction for him finally occurred, sending Zobrist off to the A’s. Two years removed from back-to-back 20 homer seasons, Zobrist hit a mere 10 bombs in 2014, but is still more than capable of impacting any team he’s on, as he has over the course of his All-Star career with the Rays.

Other moves the A’s have made so far to go along with the Zobrist and Escobar trade that could turn out to have major impacts began with the pickup of Billy Butler on a three-year, thirty million dollar contract. The Athletics then proceeded to swap their All-Star third baseman, Josh Donaldson, for fellow hot corner defender, Brett Lawrie, from the Brett LawrieBlue Jays.

While the Butler deal was applauded by many, the Donaldson move was one that left many people scratching their heads. However, they weren’t done there.

Following the initial offseason additions of Butler and Lawrie, the Athletics kicked off the 2014 Winter Meetings, trading slugger Brandon Moss to the Indians, and almost immediately after departed ways with Jeff Samardzija for a few potential valuable but unproven players from the White Sox.

Even though there are some things the Athletics have done that I don’t agree with, for the most part I like where the A’s are headed.

Losing Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox via a trade for Jon Lester, and knowing they wouldn’t likely retain Lester upon the end of the season, the moves the A’s are making should help them in their attempt to make up for those losses.

Even after losing Lester, the Athletics’ rotation will still be decent, with Sonny Gray leading the way, along with Jarrod Parker who is set to return to health, and their lineup always seems to find a way to produce runs. Having finished with a win-loss record above .500 for each of the past three seasons, things are seemingly lining up to make it four.

Are the Tigers On the Verge of Disaster?

Heading into the 2014 Major League Baseball season, there weren’t very many people around the baseball world who didn’t have the Tigers winning the American League Central division. Citing the fact that the Tigers have one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball, in addition to a really good lineup that includes, arguably, the best hitter in all of baseball, Miguel Cabrera, a lot of pre season predictions had the Tigers completely running away with the division. But with around five weeks of games remaining in the season, the Tigers finishing in first place isn’t a lock, as it was once viewed.20140805krjag90020

A game and a half back of the division leading Royals, the Tigers have some work to do to retake their lead in the Central.

Back on July 31st, the Tigers made a move that seemed certain to help them pull away from the Royals. In a three team trade with the Rays and Mariners, the Tigers sent Austin Jackson to Seattle, who in return sent Nick Franklin to the Rays, with the Tigers sending Drew Smyly and a prospect to the Rays in exchange for David Price.

Though Price hadn’t been overly dominant before the trade went down, a team with David Price is much better off than a team without David Price. And that has proven to be true in his few starts since the trade.

In Price’s most recent outing at his long time home, Tropicana Field, Price had one of his best games of the season. Going eight innings, giving up just a single hit, Price was fantastic on Thursday afternoon. However, Alex Cobb, who was on the mound for the opposing team, was just as good. In the end, despite the amazing pitching performance by Price, he was handed the loss, as the Tigers failed to provide any run support whatsoever.

If the Tigers want to win the division and not be faced with a one-game playoff that comes with a Wild Card spot — a spot that isn’t guaranteed by any means, as the Mariners currently sit just a half game back of the second Wild Card — they’re, obviously, going to have to start playing better as a team than they have been recently.

The day the David Price trade occurred, the Tigers were in a great spot. Sitting in first place, four games ahead of the Royals, the acquisition of Price looked to only improve their team, which was already seemingly on the way to another division title.

Detroit Tigers v Texas RangersBut while Price has done his job for the most part, as has the always terrific Max Scherzer, the remainder of the pitching staff, along with the lineup, has been hit and miss from one night to the next, with their entire bullpen being subpar at best.

Justin Verlander hasn’t been the same caliber pitcher he once was in quite some time; Joe Nathan, who they acquired to strengthen their bullpen, hasn’t been that great; and although Miguel Cabrera is having a good year, he’s currently on pace to finish out the season around 20 home runs and 30 RBI’s shy of the unbelievable numbers of 44 home runs and 137 RBI’s he posted in 2013.

Those three players are going to have to catch fire for the Tigers to take off in any major way.

With the entire Tigers team underperforming for the most part at the moment, and with the Mariners right behind them, threatening to overtake their playoff chances, the Tigers are experiencing quite a bit of struggles. Though they’ll likely find some sort of groove at some point in September, the Tigers are doing extremely poor in comparison to where they should be with the talent they have. If, somehow, the Tigers miss the postseason altogether, it would be nothing short of a disastrous season on their part.

Rays’ Winning Streak Makes David Price Trade Difficult

Back on June 10th, the Tampa Bay Rays were sitting 15 games back of first place in the American League East. Thanks to a losing streak of 14 out of the previous 15 games played prior to that point — putting them at 18 games under .500 (24-42) — the Rays’ season appeared to be all but over, with things looking dismal for anything better than a last place season, especially with injuries to some of their key players. Price

With what appeared to be a lost season, rumors began to fly that the Rays were looking into trading their ace, David Price, to the team that offered them the most in return for the southpaw, which would theoretically allow the Rays to make the most out of a bad situation.

Though Price wasn’t having a season at that point in the year anything like the Cy Young season he put together a couple of years ago, he was still holding his own. Regardless of a few rough patches at given times this year, as one of the game’s top pitchers, Price was sure to bring the Rays a lot in return, should they have decided to cash in.

However, the Rays held out on making an impulsive trade. David Price is still a Ray. And since that low point in the season, the Rays have shifted things into another gear, making the decision to continue trade talks regarding Price a very hard one.

Going on a streak of 26-11 since June 10th, the Rays have quickly found themselves pulling into contention. With a current 8-game winning streak — having yet to lose a game since the All-Star break — the Rays sit just 7 games back of first, and 4.5 games back of an American League wild card spot.

In addition to the Rays’ great play as a whole recently, also seeing a resurgence in numbers is David Price himself, who made the start on Friday night against the division rival Red Sox. With games within your own division being extra important, Price was dominant, winning his sixth straight game started (a 1.31 ERA over that span), and striking out ten over eight strong innings.

With his record on the season now at 11-7 with a 3.08 ERA and a league leading 183 strikeouts, Price is seemingly more valuable than anything the Rays could get in return for him. And therefore, with the chance that the Rays make the playoffs going up more and more by the day, the chances that David Price gets dealt before the July 31st trade deadline are only go down.

Before the season even began, a lot of people had the Rays as the favorites to win the division, with some going as far as to predict a World Series title for the club. Although those predictions have been way off to this point in the season, now that David Price, Evan Longoria and some of the Rays’ other, lesser star players are beginning to heat up — and with 2013 Rookie of the Year, Wil Myers, set to return from the disabled list by mid August — the Rays could wind up turning an amazing run into an amazing finish to the season.

Stage Set for Exciting Second Half of 2014 Season

After a four-day break in baseball action due to the All-Star game and its surrounding festivities up at Target Field, baseball returns tonight. With a full, fifteen game slate set to get the second half of the season going, there are a ton of story lines that are sure to make this portion of the season one of the most captivating in years.

With that in mind, I wanted to go over just a few of the topics worth keeping an eye on in the two and a half months before the postseason rolls around, with my prediction/thoughts on what will take place.

– Which players will be traded before the trade deadline on July 31st?

As of right now — though the likes of Chase Utley, Huston Street and Adrian Beltre have been tossed around — the two players in the spotlight the most when it comes to trade discussion are David Price and Matt Kemp. Both Price and Kemp have been apart of trade talks for awhile, but neither has gone anywhere as of yet. But many people are expecting that to change fairly soon. Price hasn’t been having the type of season that he had a couple of years ago, but he’s still one of the top pitchers in the game today, who will likely bring the Rays a good amount in return, should they decide to deal him.

Kemp is in slightly a different situation that Price, as Price has noted that he doesn’t necessarily want to leave, but Kemp is open to a trade, seeing that he’s currently not being used as an everyday player. Though Kemp has been struggling for a good bit of time due to injuries, when he’s healthy, he’s one of the top superstars in all of baseball. With the outfield situation the Dodgers currently hold — five outfielders for three spots — Kemp will likely be heading somewhere soon.

– Will Jose Abreu break Mark McGwire’s rookie home run mark?Untitled

When Jose Abreu came to the White Sox from Cuba, no one knew fully what to expect from him. But after his first month in the big leagues, everyone knew he was going to be a star for years to come. The first year All-Star set a new rookie home run record for a player’s first month in the majors, and is on the verge of breaking an even bigger record — the most home runs in a season by a rookie.

Mark McGwire set the bar high back in 1987 when he slugged 49 home runs for the Athletics, but Abreu is currently on pace to hit 50 in this his rookie campaign. Even if he doesn’t quite reach that amazing milestone, Abreu is nearly a lock to do what McGwire achieved — win the American League Rookie of the Year award.

– Of the players with poor first halves, which will have a breakout second half?

No player carries the hype that the Nationals’ Bryce Harper does. Coming up back in 2012 and winning the National League Rookie of the Year award, Harper hasn’t yet been able to have the monster season that people had predicted him to put together. Thanks to an injury this season, Harper has played in a mere 34 games to this point, but with him finally healthy, Harper is looking to turn things around and have a breakout second half to the season. With the Nationals tied with the Braves for first place in the division, they could really use a surge from Harper, who has clearly made known that he loves the spotlight. This is his chance to shine.

The Red Sox have failed to meet expectations this season after winning the World Series last year, sitting tied for last place in the American League east with the Rays. Part of the reason for the subpar year to this point has been the subpar performances by many of the players who made big impacts last year, including Xander Bogaerts.

Bogaerts came up for the very last portion of the 2013 season, but he flipped a switch in the postseason, getting important hits in big spots and helping to lead the Red Sox to the championship title. With such a great showing, many people made the prediction that he would make the run for Rookie of the Year this season. Though that’s not going to happen, look for Bogaerts to begin to find George+Springer+Kansas+City+Royals+v+Houston+tKo8zZGt9m9lhis groove in the remainder of the Sox’ games. He’s extremely talented and will surely be able to get things going.

George Springer is having a great season for the Astros, leading the team in RBI’s and tied for the lead in home runs. The only knock to what would be a promising Rookie of the Year campaign is his low .200’s batting average. That’s the one thing that Springer needs to turn around to become the all around star player that people feel he can become.

His power has been evident this year, as has the ability to come through in big spots; and his defense has been impressive as well. With so much talent, having hit .303 with 37 homers last season in the minors, Springer is one of those players that can make the necessary adjustments to get better and better. With the second half of the season beginning, Springer is arguably the players who needs the most watching, as he could have an extremely impressive final few months.

– How many teams can make a solid push at the playoffs?

Probably the most anticipation surrounds the division races, where there are numerous teams that still stand a theoretical shot at one of the ten playoff spots (six division winners, and four wild cards). The Orioles, Tigers, and Athletics currently stand atop their given American League division, with the Nationals and Braves (tied), Brewers and Dodgers holding the first place slot for their National League division. But there are multiple teams that could be in their place once the end of the season rolls around.

The Orioles currently hold a four game lead in the American League East, however, the Blue Jays and Yankees are going to do their part to make the O’s feel pressure in the coming months. While the Blue Jays held the top spot for a long time before falling down a bit, and although the Yankees are struggling to stay in the race, anything can happen, and that’s reason enough to watch the race in the east.

Detroit has a rather big lead over the second place Royals, but after losing the spot to the Royals earlier in the year, they need to keep an eye on Kansas City. It has been “the Royals’ year” for the past several years, with people predicting season after season that they would finally reach their full potential. And therefore, while they won’t likely find themselves beating out the Tigers, they very well could capture one of the wild cards.

One of the most impressive teams for the past few years has been the Athletics. Consisting of players who wouldn’t appear to have much of a troutshot against the rest of the division on paper, the A’s are once again surprising many. Not far behind them are the Angels, who, led by Mike Trout, have finally been able to see all of their key players make full contributions. Less than two games back of first, the Angels are on the verge of a special season.

The National League East division has the Nationals and the Braves at the top, with both standing a good shot at being there at the end of the season. The only question that remains is which one of the two will finish in second. The Nationals are a better team as a whole, and if Bryce Harper can post superstar caliber numbers, they could run away with things. However, if the Nat’s fail to capitalize, the Braves could once again win the division.

But while the National League East has the closest teams, the NL Central is arguably the most competitive, as three of the four teams chasing the first place Brewers are less than four games back. Those three teams being the Reds, Cardinals and Pirates, any of the three stand a good shot at finishing in first. It will come down to who plays better baseball and finishes out the year on a strong note.

It’s basically a two-team race between the Giants and Dodgers for the first place spot in the National League West. Though it’s not as competitive of a division as most of the others in baseball, it’s going to be exciting to see who goes on a hot streak to take the first place spot. As of right now, the favorites are the Dodgers, who were predicted at the beginning of the year to make the playoffs fairly easily, but the Giants aren’t too far removed from their 2012 World Series title, and could potentially make things interesting.

But the only thing that’s for sure in baseball is that you never know what to expect. Teams that you never thought had a shot can go on a historic streak and shock everyone. And thus, with less than three months to go, the baseball world is in for an action packed finish to the season.

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