MLB - Halfway Home

MLB - Halfway Home

MLB - Halfway Home
July 2nd, 2007

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Even though the All-Star Game is one week away, the halfway point of the season is this week and five of the six divisions are still up for grabs. The only lead that appears to be safe is the Red Sox domination of the AL East with a 10 -game advantage.

The NL West has been a barnburner right from the beginning and three teams (Padres, Dodgers and Diamondbacks) are all within a game and a half of each other. Looking at the odds to win the World Series, most of the smart money is on San Diego, as the Padres are 7-1 to win it all. Los Angeles is 11-1, while third place Arizona is 15-1.

In the East, the Mets hold a four-game lead over the Braves, with the injury- riddled Phillies five out. New York is the National League favorite to take the Fall Classic at 6-1, while Philadelphia is still only 14-1 (Ill book all that action) and Atlanta is 19-1.

Milwaukee (8-1), third choice behind the Mets and Padres, is currently the only team in the league over .500 with a sub .500-road record. The Brewers have done most of their damage inside the division with a 22-12 mark. Unfortunately, they are just 25-22 outside the Central, so if they want to take their game to the next level, they will have to pound out some more "Ws" vs. the rest of the league.

Over in the Junior Circuit, the Red Sox keep pounding their opposition with a 49-31 record and are the overall favorites at 9-2 to win their second World Series in four years. The Tigers, despite falling to second place in the Central, are the second choice at 11-2, while the division-leading Indians are a great value play at 13-2.

Speaking of value, the Angels are an incredible 7-1, despite having the best record in the game. They became the first club to reach 50 wins and are in line for a 100-win season and on pace for a team-high in victories for a season. The pitching staff is third in the league with a 3.92 ERA, but more importantly, the team is pounding out hits at an unexpected pace.

Most baseball experts thought the offensive side of the game would be the Angels weakness. No one could have imagined they would be tied atop the AL in batting average at .288 with the Tigers. Interestingly enough, Los Angeles was also tied with Detroit last season at .274 but for eighth place, not first. In 2006, the Angels ranked 11th in runs scored, but are a much-improved fourth in 07.

MID-SEASON AWARDS

One main contributor to the Angels cause has been rookie Reggie Willits. The 26-year-old outfielder has been the catalyst the squad needed when Chone Figgins was injured the first month of the season. The seventh-round draft pick in 03 is batting over .330 with an OBP of .430. Hes also stolen 28 bases in 30 tries.

If he stays injury free and keeps up the pace hes on, the American League Rookie of the Year Award should be sitting on his mantle come the off-season. However, most of the writers will be swayed by the publicity of Bostons Daisuke Matsuzaka. Dice-K has been extremely consistent for the Red Sox, allowing three runs or less in a11 of his 16 starts and been unstoppable since June with a 1.59 ERA. If the Tokyo native wins at least 16 games, its very likely hell win the award, but at this stage of the season, Willits gets the nod.

The National League race comes down to Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki, Cincinnati's Josh Hamilton, Houston's Hunter Pence and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun. The latter two have ripped the cover off the ball since being called up to the bigs, but very quietly, Tulowitzki is having an outstanding season at the plate and in the field. Hes committed just five errors at shortstop, while Braun has six in just 33 games at third base. Tulowitzki is also batting over .280 and is on pace for 90 runs, 15 homers and 70 RBI. Pence has better offensive numbers across the board, but hes played almost 20 games less. The Astros outfielder will most likely get the year ending award, while Tulowitzki takes the mid-season honors.

Milwaukees J.J. Hardy was the NLs MVP through May, but hes taken a step back with an awful June. As of July 2, its a three-headed race between his teammate, Prince Fielder, Colorado's Matt Holliday and Philadelphia's Chase Utley. Cecils kid is on pace for over 50 jacks and over 130 RBI, while not disgracing himself at all with a .281 batting average. Fielder gets the halfway point award, especially playing for the division-leading Brewers.

In the American League, Alex Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez have been 1-2 for most of the season and A-Rod is the pick since hes leading the league in runs, homers, RBI, slugging percentage and OPS. If he were lost to the Yankees, they would be the worst team in the league.

The Cy Young Award mid-season winners are much trickier. Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia, Boston's Josh Beckett and Oakland's Dan Haren top the AL list, while San Diego's Jake Peavy and Los Angeles' Brad Penny head the Senior Circuit. Sabathia is 12-2 but hes allowed almost a hit per inning and sports an ERA over 3.00. Beckett is 11-2 but his ERA is close to 3.50 and the Sox have scored a ton of runs for him, as hes fourth in the league in run support per nine innings. Sabathia, by the way, is sixth on that list.

The winner of the AL half-season Cy Young Award is Haren. The As hurler is 10-2 without a ton of run support. His ERA took a hit on Sunday as he gave up five runs to the Yankees, but its still a league best 2.20 and opponents are batting just .204 against him.

The NL decision is a tad tougher as both Penny and Peavy have been outstanding. Penny leads Peavy in ERA 2.00 to 2.09 and has one more victory (10-9), but Peavy has the edge in strikeouts, WHIP and opponents batting average. Since San Diego leads Los Angeles heading to the midway point, Peavy gets the nod.

Manager of the half-year goes to Ned Yost in the NL and a current non-manager in the AL. Mike Hargrove had the Mariners on an eight-game winning streak before calling it quits. Seattle was the choice here to win the West and the club has not disappointed. It will be interesting to see how the Ms react in the second half of the season.

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