10 Post-MLB All-Star Break Predictions
As we head into the Major League Baseball All-Star break, I decided to take a look into my crystal ball to see what will happen in the second half of the season because, well, I just couldn’t wait to find out. If you want to enjoy the remainder of the season without knowing what will happen ahead of time, then I suggest you just stop reading now. But if you want to take a glimpse into the future, enjoy the next ten statements.
Three Players Will Steal 60 Bases
Only once in the 2000’s (2009) and twice since 1997 have three players stolen 60 bases in the same season. The stolen base seems to be an under-appreciated art, but there are three players this year who are on pace to swipe 60 bags: Dee Gordon, Jose Altuve, and rookie Billy Hamilton. Gordon currently leads the league with 43 steals at the break with Altuve right behind him at 41. There’s no reason to believe that these two players can’t easily get to 65 or 70 stolen bases, especially Altuve, who leads the Majors with 130 hits and has a .373 on-base percentage. Hamilton, the leading candidate for National League Rookie of the Year, has shown great improvement in his offensive game and, assuming he continues to improve, will find himself on-base more frequently and therefore will steal more bases.
There Will Be Two More No-Hitters
Josh Beckett, Clayton Kershaw, and Tim Lincecum all threw no-hitters prior to the All-Star break, and with the number of dominant pitchers in the game today, expect two more no-no’s before the season comes to an end. The most likely pitcher to throw the next no-hitter is Kershaw, who has been nothing short of untouchable since returning from the disabled list. Kershaw’s teammates Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke are also capable of no-hitting opponents, especially since they’ll both most likely be facing the San Diego Padres at least one more time. Yu Darvish has come close to a no-hitter a few times in his career and could get one in the second half, as could Felix Hernandez, Johnny Cueto, Adam Wainwright or any number of other players. I’m not going to predict exactly who will get the no-no’s, but there will be two more this year. Book it.
The San Diego Padres Will Score Fewer Than 500 Runs
San Diego is on pace to score 476 runs this season, which would be the fewest by a team since 1969 and the sixth time a team has averaged fewer than three runs per game in a season. The Padres are hitting .214 as a team and have an on-base percentage of .274. In other words: they can’t hit. Period. The team leader in RBI is Chase Headley with 29, and there are only two everyday players hitting over .250: Seth Smith and Cameron Maybin. This team will undoubtedly go down as one of the worst offenses in baseball history.
In 1987, Mark McGwire pounded 49 home runs as a rookie, the current Major League record. Jose Abreu, the Chicago White Sox 27-year old rookie, has 29 long balls at the break, putting him on pace for 48. Abreu missed time on the Disabled List and still leads the league in home runs, so with 66 games left to play, hitting 21 more home runs isn’t out of the question. Abreu has shown incredible power in his first season in the Majors and has shown absolutely no sign of slowing down.
The Toronto Blue Jays Will Not Acquire An Ace And Will Miss The Postseason
This won’t make some of my fellow Baseball Hot Corner contributors very happy. Toronto has fallen apart lately, going from first place to a 49-47 record at the break. The Jays need pitching badly and will likely be looking to make a move at the trade deadline, but that trade may not be for an ace, and therefore, may not be enough to get them to the playoffs. David Price is the top name supposedly on the market, but I don’t see the Tampa Bay Rays dealing him to a division rival. Toronto could go after Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels, but I’m going to make this prediction to stir the pot a bit. The Blue Jays will trade for a pitcher, but it won’t be the guy that the fans want.
The Philadelphia Phillies Will Trade Jonathan Papelbon To The Los Angeles Angels
Jonathan Papelbon has not made it a secret that he wants to pitch for a contender, and the Phillies would be more than happy to oblige if it means they can get rid of his hefty contract. The Los Angeles Angels have money to pay Papelbon and are also in need of a shut-down closer, which is what Paps has been so far in 2014. If the Angels don’t trade for Papelbon, the other most likely landing spot would be the Detroit Tigers, but the thought of Papelbon playing in Disney Land seems about right.
The Tampa Bay Rays Will Trade David Price To The St. Louis Cardinals…
The Cardinals have a real opportunity to not only win the National League Central, but to make another run at the World Series. If St. Louis acquires David Price, they will have two aces for a pennant race this year as well as in 2015. Adam Wainwright, Price, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn and Michael Wacha (when he returns from the DL) would immediately become one of the best rotations in baseball. St. Louis has the young talent to make a deal happen, potentially without having to trade Oscar Taveras. Carlos Martinez would likely be dealt, as would a combination of a few top prospects, such as Stephen Piscotty, Rob Kaminsky and Marco Gonzales. It’s a bit risky to trade top prospects, but Price could quite well be worth the price (bad pun).
…And Ben Zobrist To The San Francisco Giants…
Tampa Bay’s super-utility man, Ben Zobrist, will likely be on the move, and the Giants are in need of a second baseman who can produce offensively. Zobrist will be coveted by many teams, but San Francisco is the contender who needs his services the most, so I believe they get something done.
…But The Giants Will Still Miss The Playoffs
The San Francisco Giants are currently one game behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West and hold one of the two Wild Card spots. However, this team is not going to make the postseason this year. The Giants offense ranks 24th in the league in runs and 25th in batting average. Even if they acquire Zobrist, the lineup doesn’t have enough run producers to be playing in October. Not only that, but Madison Bumgarner is the only pitcher on this staff who I trust in the second half, and even he has a 3.47 ERA this season. The Dodgers will win the West, and the Wild Card teams will either both come from the Central or whoever doesn’t win the East will get a spot.
The Seattle Mariners Will Make The Playoffs
Let’s end on a positive note. The Seattle Mariners will be playing October baseball for the first time since 2001 as one of the two American League Wild Card teams. Seattle currently holds a 2.5 game lead for the second Wild Card spot with a 51-44 record. The pitching staff has been phenomenal, lead by Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, but 6’10”, 35-year old Chris Young has found the fountain of youth with a 3.15 ERA in the first half. The Mariners will make a deal at the deadline, possibly for Marlon Byrd from the Phillies, and maybe for another starting pitcher. Whatever they do, it will be enough to get them to October.