MLB: 5 Bold Predictions Until the All-Star Break
The 2012 MLB season has been the most exciting one in years, as we have witnessed some of the most unbelievable individual and team performances in recent memory.
Perennial losers like the Nationals and Orioles are playing fantastic baseball, while perennial powerhouses like the Phillies and Red Sox are sitting in last place in their respective divisions.
Superstars such as Justin Upton and Albert Pujols have underperformed drastically, while flawed players such as R.A. Dickey and A.J. Ellis are putting together terrific seasons.
This season has had no shortage of shocking developments, and this is likely to continue up the All-Star break.
Here are five bold predictions for the next month of baseball action.
Curtis Granderson Takes AL Home Run Lead
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Josh Hamilton has finally started to cool down (.128 AVG, 0 HR in June), as Curtis Granderson finds his power stroke.
Granderson has muscled four homers in his last 13 games, putting his total at 17 for the season, four behind Hamilton.
With a string of hitter's ballparks on the Yankees' schedule, including 13 of the next 22 games at home, Granderson could easily overtake Hamilton by the All-Star break.
R.A. Dickey Wins 14 Games
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R.A. Dickey has been on an unbelievable tear recently, winning six of his last seven outings and not allowing a run in 24 2/3 innings.
The Mets knuckleballer currently leads the MLB with nine wins, while also placing sixth in the NL with 78 strikeouts and 8th with a 2.44 ERA.
Dickey is on pace to start five more games before the All-Star break. These starts would come against the Rays and Dodgers away and the Orioles, Yankees and Phillies at home.
Dickey is phenomenal at home, as he currently boasts a 1.45 ERA at Citi Field.
Therefore, it is not out of the question for him to win all three home starts until the All-Star Break.
The Rays and Dodgers are not prolific offenses by any means, so it's very possible Dickey also takes his two away starts.
Do not be surprised to see the 37-year-old rack up an incredible 14 wins by mid-July.
Giancarlo Stanton Has Sizable Lead in NL Home Run Race
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Giancarlo Stanton has come to life over the last month, racking up an incredible 13 home runs in 35 games.
The young Marlins outfielder is now tied for second in the National League with 14 home runs, two behind leader Carlos Beltran.
Beltran has only clobbered one long ball in his last 10 games, and his home run pace is beginning to slow down.
Stanton, coming off a 34-homer year in his first full season in the majors, should be leading the race by mid-July.
The Giants Take over the NL West Lead
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The Giants are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, as they have claimed 15 of their last 22 games. The 2010 World Series champions are now only four games out of first in the division.
San Francisco's offense has drastically improved from last season. Melky Cabrera has been on fire, and he currently leads the league in batting average. Buster Posey has also been hitting lights out, and Pablo Sandoval is due to return within the next week.
The Giants' rotation is also doing their part. Matt Cain is developing into an ace and Barry Zito continues to pleasantly surprise.
On the other hand, the Dodgers are looking like a beatable team. They were swept by a weak Brewers team and dropped two of three to the subpar Rockies.
A sweep over the Phillies was impressive, but Philadelphia is still a below-.500 team.
The Giants should overpower the Matt Kemp-less Dodgers by the All-Star break.
The White Sox Own Baseball's Best Record
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The White Sox are THE hottest team in baseball right now, as they have won 15 of their last 19 games.
Chicago has stormed to a 1.5 game lead in the AL Central and they look poised to hold onto it.
Paul Konerko continues to put up MVP-type numbers and Adam Dunn has sustained his resurgence. Alejandro De Aza, A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Rios are also putting together superb seasons.
Chris Sale and Jake Peavy are anchoring a solid rotation and Addison Reed has filled the closer's role admirably.
The White Sox are clicking on all cylinders at the moment and should be the top team in baseball by the All-Star break.