The first half of the 2013 Major League Baseball season provided plenty of exciting and surprising outcomes, and the second half is bound to be even better.
Nearly every organization has played 81 games already, meaning it’s safe to say that the second half has officially begun—even though the All-Star Break is around two weeks away. There’s now a solid sample size on which we can judge every franchise.
How each team fared in those opening 81 games says a lot about what’s to come, but there still is a lot of unpredictability.
Entering Wednesday’s slate of games, the NL East is the only division where the team in second place isn’t fewer than four games behind the leader, so the five teams from each league going to the postseason are still up in the air.
But that doesn’t mean that we can’t take some educated guesses as to what the rest of the year holds for each team.
That being said, here’s a prediction of each team’s final record for the 2013 season, with analysis on each franchise’s first half and what’s to come in the second.
*Teams with a pair of asterisks next to their name are division winners. Teams with one asterisk are those who will be represented in the AL and NL Wild Card Games. All statistics in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. All injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus. All contract information was obtained via Cot’s Contracts.
Predicted Year-End Finish
1. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox have played extremely well throughout the first half, mainly though major contributions from Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Clay Buchholz.
A healthy starting rotation is the key to a strong second half, but that isn't guaranteed right now.
Buchholz hasn’t pitched since June 8 and Lester left his most recent start early as well. If Buchholz comes back and continues to pitch like a Cy Young candidate, consider the rest of the AL East warned.
2. Baltimore Orioles
Chris Davis has been unreal to start the season and it doesn’t appear that anyone is going to be able to stop him. Manny Machado has proved that he's a doubles machine, as he's racked up two-baggers at a historic pace and has played a huge role in the success of Baltimore’s offense.
Baltimore still needs a top-notch starting pitcher, though. Chris Tillman has already won 10 games, but he can’t carry the rest of the rotation throughout the season. He needs some help.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
Evan Longoria is back and arguably better than ever. The Rays' third baseman is hitting .301/.371/.549 with 17 home runs and 47 RBI through 81 games. If he can stay healthy, he can help Tampa Bay make a run toward a postseason berth.
The pitching staff needs to pick up some of the slack, though. David Price has only made nine starts due to injury and relying on Alex Cobb, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore the rest of the year might not be enough.
4. Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto is finally starting to play like the team many thought it’d be during the offseason. Jose Reyes is hoping to make a difference in the lineup, recently coming back from an injury.
Jose Bautista (19 HR) and Edwin Encarnacion (23 HR) are having spectacular seasons, but they haven’t been able to make up for poor pitching. None of the starting pitchers for the Blue Jays have done much of anything this year and that’s been the team’s biggest issue in 2013.
5. New York Yankees
Injuries have plagued the Yankees more than any other team in baseball this season.
New York is doomed no matter who comes off the disabled list in the next few weeks. The Yankees will not do anything in the second half if David Adams, Jayson Nix and Vernon Wells, among others, are still in the lineup.
The eventual returns of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez will not come close to being enough to carry the Yankees into the playoffs.
Predicted Year-End Finish
1. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers have the best hitter in baseball in Miguel Cabrera, as well as one of the top starting rotations in the game.
Max Scherzer isn’t going to go undefeated this season, but he will play a big role in Detroit locking up the division.
Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister have both been good, but the scariest thing about the Tigers is Justin Verlander. We haven’t seen the best from the right-hander yet, and he’s definitely going to show the AL who the top arm in MLB is soon.
2. Cleveland Indians
The offseason additions the Indians made have proved to be worthwhile, but it won’t be easy fighting off the Tigers in the second half of the season.
Jason Kipnis is going to need to hit like an All-Star throughout the remainder of the schedule and Ubaldo Jimenez needs to start pitching like his job is on the line.
For Cleveland to make the postseason, the offense is going to need to be more consistent. Only Kipnis and Michael Bourn are hitting higher than .290.
3. Kansas City Royals
Kansas City is going to need a lot of help prior to the trade deadline if it’s going to be a playoff contender.
The Royals won’t be going anywhere with Mike Moustakas hitting .218 and Jeff Francoeur hitting .208. Without a new third baseman and right fielder, Kansas City will finish in the middle of the pack as it usually does.
Those two players alone could derail the entire season for the Royals. It may be hard to believe, but it’s true.
4. Minnesota Twins: Minnesota doesn’t have much going for it right now aside from another great year from Joe Mauer.
The Aaron Hicks project didn’t work out as the Twins had hoped and several other players have yet to live up to expectations. Josh Willingham is leading the team in home runs, but is hitting just .224.
Kevin Correia is the sole pitcher on the team with more than five wins, while Glen Perkins and Casey Fien have been the only two impressive arms on the club.
5. Chicago White Sox
It’s truly embarrassing what many of the White Sox regulars have done this season.
Adam Dunn is hitting below the Mendoza Line. Paul Konerko is only hitting .249. Jeff Keppinger is hitting .248. Dayan Viciedo is hitting .237.
What in the world is going on in Chicago?
With a healthy Jake Peavy, the pitching staff will be fine. Unfortunately for the offense, there’s no one coming off the disabled list to save the day.
There hasn't been any indication that Chicago will turn things around.
Predicted Year-End Finish
1. Texas Rangers
Josh Hamilton who?
That’s what Rangers fans have been saying this season, as Texas has been just as good without the slugger so far.
Nelson Cruz is having a very underrated season, as is Adrian Beltre. Leonys Martin will be in the AL Rookie of the Year race as well.
Then there’s the starting rotation, which has been nearly flawless. Yu Darvish (8-3, 2.78), and Derek Holland (6-4, 3.14) have been remarkable with Matt Harrison out.
The Rangers are a very dangerous team.
2. Oakland Athletics
Oakland isn’t the same team it was a year ago, but the A’s are still serious contenders in the AL West.
Josh Donaldson is having a career year, and Coco Crisp has played well too.
Yoenis Cespedes needs to do more than just hit home runs, and the same goes for Brandon Moss.
The biggest surprise has been Bartolo Colon, who is somehow 11-3 in 17 starts with a 2.78 ERA. Absolutely no one expected Colon to be even notable in 2013. He’s a Cy Young candidate.
3. Los Angeles Angels
It would be unimaginable for Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton to hit as poorly as they did in the first half in the second as well. That just isn’t going to happen.
But while the dynamic duo will bounce back, it’s quite the uphill climb to the playoffs.
Jered Weaver hasn’t been as sharp as he usually is, and Joe Blanton already has 10 losses. C.J. Wilson and Jason Vargas need some assistance.
The Angels are bound to play better soon, but they won’t be as good as they need to be.
4. Seattle Mariners
Seattle has gotten some fine performances from a pair of its pitchers, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, but the offense has been disastrous. Poor play by experienced players has caused the Mariners to promote youngsters who might not have been ready for the call.
Take Jesus Montero, for example. Before getting demoted, he was hitting .208/.264/.327 with three home runs. The same could be said for Dustin Ackley.
The offense just hasn’t shown up yet.
5. Houston Astros
No one should have expected the Astros do much this season after switching to the American League.
Bud Norris (5-7, 3.35) is the top player on the team, and he likely won’t be on the roster much longer.
While Matt Dominguez and Chris Carter each have more than 10 home runs, neither is hitting higher than .235.
Jason Castro (11 HR, 27 RBI) and Norris have been the two lone noteworthy players in Houston in 2013.
Predicted Year-End Finish
1. Atlanta Braves
As previously mentioned in the introduction, the Braves have the largest division lead of any of the other leaders, and that’s going to be important in the second half.
While Evan Gattis (14 HR) has emerged into a star and Freddie Freeman (.307/.384/.470) continues to improve, Atlanta needs to be prepared for B.J. Upton (31 percent strikeout rate) to continue whiffing at everything and for his brother Justin’s production to dip.
The Braves are still the strongest team in the NL East and shouldn’t fear the other four clubs.
2. Washington Nationals
Injuries and a lack of production from a few players have hurt the Nationals’ chances of returning to the postseason. With both Wild Card spots likely coming from the NL Central, Washington must top Atlanta in order to make the playoffs.
Bryce Harper is going to do everything in his power to make that dream a reality, but it won’t be easy.
It will be interesting to see if the Nationals can catch the Braves down the stretch in the second half.
3. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies aren’t going to turn things around quick enough to avoid selling a bunch of players at the trade deadline. Something approaching a fire sale is bound to go down in Philadelphia this summer.
Getting rid of someone like Cliff Lee will hurt the immediate club, but will probably restock the entire minor league system.
The Phillies aren’t going to be winning the World Series for a while, so in the meantime, the future needs to be the main focus.
4. New York Mets
The main problem for the Mets is that the entire future isn’t there yet. Matt Harvey has been phenomenal thus far, but Zack Wheeler still needs a bit more time to develop before he’s fully ready to go.
The Mets will be in the playoff hunt in around two years, in my opinion. Until then, they have to hope that they can stay out of last place.
While New York hasn’t been last-place bad, it has lost to the Marlins eight times in 11 games this season. That’s a catastrophe.
5. Miami Marlins
So, yeah. The Marlins have been the eyesore of the league this season, as many would’ve expected to start 2013.
Miami has close to no big-league talent on the big-league roster. The Marlins have yet to show that they’re going to be marginally competitive the rest of the year. Miami hasn’t lost more than 100 games since 1998, when the team was still called the Florida Marlins.
While it’s not the players’ fault, Jeffrey Loria doesn’t deserve to have his team win 63 games.
Predicted Year-End Finish
1. St. Louis Cardinals
Through the first half of the season, the Cardinals are definitely the team to beat. St. Louis has one of the top offenses in the game and the pitching staff has been outstanding.
No one is stopping Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller this year, or the bats of Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter.
There's a ton to like about this team, and while St. Louis won’t be perfect in the second half, it will finish with the best record in the league.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh is one of the teams that has really caught my eye over the last few months.
While the starters haven’t been rock solid, Jason Grilli is saving games left and right. If Pittsburgh has a lead in the ninth, it’s game over for the opposition.
The combination of Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte will continue to shine, and they will be the reason why the Pirates avoid a second-half slump, like the team experienced just a year ago.
3. Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati is in a tough position considering how well the two teams ahead of it in the standings have played. But there’s still plenty of hope for the Reds.
There isn’t just one Wild Card spot anymore—there are two, and that’s a good thing for them.
Shin-Soo Choo has been a great offseason addition, and Joey Votto and Jay Bruce have been doing their thing consistently.
With Mat Latos and Homer Bailey both pitching like studs, expect the Reds to lock up a Wild Card spot.
4. Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee has been tough to watch to start 2013, but things will get a little better for the Brewers.
Once Ryan Braun returns to the lineup, he, Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez are going to start helping the Brewers win more games than they have been recently.
Kyle Lohse (3-6, 3.63) has not pitched like the Brewers had hoped and Yovani Gallardo (6-8, 4.78) has struggled to keep runs off the board too.
It can’t get much worse for Milwaukee, though. At least there’s that.
5. Chicago Cubs
I’m not sure that the Cubs even believe in themselves anymore. While they enter the second half with the fourth-worst record in the division instead of the fifth, expect that to change soon.
Chicago will likely end up dealing a bunch of its stars toward the trade deadline in order to acquire future talent.
Most of the starting rotation should be on the way out, and once the Cubs brass pulls the trigger, the team’s on-field performance isn’t going to get any better.
Predicted Year-End Finish
1. Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona has finally emerged as a contender in the NL West and will make it back to the postseason after a one-year absence.
While Patrick Corbin isn’t going to go the entire year without losing a start, he will certainly be in contention for the NL Cy Young.
Speaking of awards, expect Paul Goldschmidt to be in a similar conversation at season’s end.
If the rest of the starting rotation could pitch a little better than it has been, Arizona could be the top team in the NL.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are a very interesting team.
While Los Angeles didn't play very well in the first half, Yasiel Puig has brought them suddenly back to life.
With Matt Kemp now back from an injury, expect big things to start happening with the Dodgers.
They have two of the best pitchers in baseball, and with some run support, could jump-start the Dodgers in the second half.
They will definitely be one of the most fun teams to watch down the stretch.
3. San Francisco Giants
San Francisco will not be repeating as World Series Champions this season.
Sorry Giants fans, but it’s just not going to happen.
The pitching has been troubling this year, as Madison Bumgarner is the only starter with a respectable ERA (3.08). Tim Lincecum hasn’t bounced back and Matt Cain has struggled too.
The offense has been injured on and off throughout the season, but pitching is what won the Giants the title in 2012.
It’ll be the reason they don’t in 2013.
4. Colorado Rockies
Colorado isn’t going to stay in the playoff hunt without Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki in the lineup every day. Those two are the key for the Rockies making a run toward the postseason.
The problem, however, is that Tulowitzki is currently out with a fractured rib and you never know when Gonzalez is going to hit the disabled list.
Without those two together, the Rockies are just you’re below average NL team.
5. San Diego Padres
While the Padres have gotten off to a promising start to the year, it seems unlikely that their success is going to continue much longer.
Jedd Gyorko and Everth Cabrera have really shown what they’re capable of, but what happened to Chase Headley? He was one of the top players in baseball last season, but is hitting just .221/.320/.345 with six home runs and 68 games.
San Diego will play slightly worse in the second, as Cabrera and Gyorko come back to reality.