MLB Second Half Predictions

MLB Second Half Predictions

MLB Second Half Predictions
by T.O. Whenham

I'm a sucker for making predictions. I make them every chance I get for anyone that will listen. Some of them are right, and hopefully fewer are wrong. Every so often I hit one that I am particularly proud of. This year, my overachieving pick was definitely that the Mariners would be much better than expected. Fueled by that little bit of forecasting, here are my bold predictions of five things that will happen in the second half of the MLB season. Bet on them at your own risk.

1. You think the Royals are bad? Just wait. Kansas City fans have had little to live for since George Brett retired, and the horizon is no brighter. They struggled to a 38-50 record, which is better than only Washington, Cincinnati and Tampa Bay. The problem is that they have played the weak half of their schedule. The second half starts with a nine-game trip to Cleveland, Boston and Detroit. That should suck the life out of this pathetic team, and it won't get any better from there.

2. Tampa Bay will be better. Note that I said better and not good. The Rays have been affected by two big problems (actually they have a million problems, but we'll start with two big ones) - their starters have put pressure on the bullpen and they have been overrun with injuries. B.J. Upton, Akinori Iwamura and Rocco Baldelli have all missed significant action, and the team doesn't have the depth to do that. Upton and Baldelli should be back and ready to perform in the second half. The starting pitchers have not been lasting deep, but they have got rid of some of the crap - Jae Seo is in Triple A where he belongs and Casey Fossum isn't starting regularly - and they have young arms that will only get better with experience. Scott Kazmir is much better than he has looked this year and will hopefully find some form. The Red Sox certainly don't need to be looking over their shoulder, but Tampa might be a little more competitive down the stretch.

3. The Cubs will win the NL Central. When it comes down to the experience of Lou Piniella against the youth of the Brewers, I will take the crusty old manager every time. The Cubs have been more solid than spectacular, but they are good enough to keep chasing down Milwaukee. Don't forget that this is a team that got themselves into a giant hole when they started out at 7-13. Since then they are 37-30, and that includes a 6-16 stretch to close out May. Milwaukee has lots of reasons to be optimistic, but the last month or so hasn't made me a believer yet. Talk to me next year about them. This year they are way too weak on the road, and they have a better record than they can sustain at home.

4. Boston will fade. Don't get me wrong - they will still win the AL East in a romp because, well, who is there to catch them? They just will have a lower record in the second half then they did to start the year. There are a number of reasons for this. Their current form isn't that great (they were swept by Detroit and Seattle and dropped two to Texas), so they have to prove that they can play up to their earlier level. Their schedule should help - they play Toronto, Kansas City, the White Sox, Tampa Bay and Baltimore in the next couple weeks. That could work against them in the long run, though. If they come through that stretch well then they could have the division practically wrapped up, and that could affect their hunger and motivation down the stretch. The other problem they could face is injuries. David Ortiz says he will need knee surgery after the year, so he isn't at his best. Curt Schilling is fragile. Boston has the best record in the league, but all signs indicate that they could come back to the crowd a bit.

5. Oakland won't get any traction. By now we know the plot by heart - the A's have an invisible first half and then charge hard in the second half to make the playoffs. At 44-44 they have been incredibly invisible, but the ingredients just aren't in place this year. The first problem is that things are going to be very tight ahead of them. Cleveland and Detroit are both very legitimate, the Angels are too solid to fade and Seattle showed last week that they are quite a bit better than Oakland right now. The other big problem is the pitching. In the past it has been their ridiculous starting depth that has carried them. Dan Haren probably deserves the first half Cy Young, and Joe Blanton and Chad Gaudin have been good, but behind those three the rotation is a disaster. Rich Harden isn't right yet after his shoulder injury, and no one has stepped into the fourth or fifth spot with anything approaching effectiveness. The offense just isn't good enough to overcome those kinds of problems.

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