July 9, 2012

A First Half Filled With Surprises

#22 Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pirates

With the first half of this MLB Season over, there have been multiple surprises and shockers of this season's campaign, which include the Phillies being 13 games under .500, and the Orioles 5 games over .500 and second in AL East. Who would of thought that Bryce Harper's emergence would have been such a success, and staying with the Nationals, they lead the NL East! For the first time since 1997 the Pittsburgh Pirates are in sole possession of first place in the NL Central.

This season also has some very tight division races. With every division but the AL East having no more than a 5 game difference between the first place team and second place team.

Here is a unique stat: Only 49 percent of teams that lead their division at the All-Star break actually hold on to win the division at season's end. So based on this stat, there will be 3 teams that are not in first that will be at season's end.

The New York Yankees have the biggest lead of all the division leaders, with a 7 game lead over Baltimore Orioles, who as of right now are in the second spot for the wild card. No one thought that the Orioles would even be a game over .500 but as of now, they are in the playoffs.

Even though Ryan Howard has returned for the Phillies, the losses keep piling up. They are now 13 games out of first place, and are in desperate need of pitching help. Now, I don't want to say they are out of the playoff race, but the chances of them making it are slim, as they are arguably in the best division in NL with 3 of the 5 teams over .500. Not to mention the Marlins, who are one month great and the next horrible.

The Nationals lead the NL East by 4 games over the Braves. This is a surprise to most MLB fans. We all thought the Nats would be decent, maybe a few games over .500, but not leading the division. With Strasburg on a pitch limit that the Nationals seem to be stern on, shutting him down right before season's end, don't be surprised to see them slip out of this tough division's lead. Even though Bryce Harper is hitting the ball well and hustling on every play. It is just like Ryan Howard, one batter out of 9 cannot do everything for you. I do believe that Nationals have the potential to make the playoffs without Strasburg, I don't believe they can win the division.

Another team that is in 1st right now and won't win their division is the Pirates. With a one game lead over the Cincinnati Reds, the Pirates are the MLB's surprise team this season. There was a point last season where the Pirates were battling for the division lead. Then, right before the All-Star break, the Pirates started losing, and losing a lot. They finished the season under .500, which shouldn't be a surprise if this happens again this season.

Back to the stat that only 49 percent of division leaders at the midway point of the season actually go on to make the playoffs. With most the division races being so tight, we can almost guarantee some lead changes. The Yankees have a seven game lead, and all they have to do is tread water and are actually safe to win the division. As I said before, I just don't believe the Nationals or Pirates will be able to hold the division lead because they are young teams in tight divisions.

Watch out for the Mets and the Braves in the East and Reds in the Central, with Brewers as the dark horse. The other team I believe won't be able to hold the lead of their division is the White Sox. One last thing: The Tigers are finally coming together, and have the talent to make a run for the division crown.