10 Bold Opinions for MLB's Second Half of the Season
With the All-Star Game now over with, it's time to look ahead to the second half of the season.
The National League finally ended its string of losing at the Midsummer Classic, beating the American League 3-1.
Does that mean the NL has the advantage in this year's World Series? Or, can the Yankees create another dynasty and win their second consecutive Fall Classic?
Plus, what other teams will surprise and which current surprises will flop? Here are all of the bold predictions for what to look forward to during the stretch run of 2010.
San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres currently own the second-best record in the National League, 51-37, and will win the NL West.
On top of that, they will make it to the NLCS for the first time since 1998. Both times the Padres have made it to the NLCS, they have won it (1984, 1998), although both years they lost the World Series.
This season, they will lose the NLCS to the Braves.
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals currently trail the Cincinnati Reds by a game in the NL Central.
The Reds have not been to the playoffs since 1995, haven't come close since 1999, and will have to wait at least another year to reach the postseason.
The dominant threesome of Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and Jaime Garcia, plus the bat of Albert Pujols will lead the Cardinals back to October.
The Cardinals will be out in the NLDS.
No one has won the hitting Triple Crown (highest league batting average, most home runs, and most runs batted in) since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Miguel Cabrera has a shot, but at the end he will fall one category short.
He'll win the batting title and lead the American League in runs batted in, but he will fall short in home runs to Paul Konerko.
Vladimir Guerrero/Texas Rangers
Vladimir Guerrero will win the American League MVP for the AL West-leading Texas Rangers.
He's batting .319 with 20 home runs, and 75 runs batted in, and he will be the biggest reason, along with Josh Hamilton, why the Rangers make the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
The Rangers have won one playoff game in their 38-year history as the Texas Rangers, and they will not make it past the ALDS, as they'll lose to the Tampa Bay Rays.
David Wright, who was the only player in the All-Star Game with two hits, will become the first-ever New York Mets MVP.
The Mets will win the Wild Card in the National League, and it'll be because of Wright's second half play.
He'll follow up his June Player of the Month honors with a monster final 2.5 months to win the award, although the Mets will lose in the NLDS to the Padres.
There will be plenty of no-hit bids taken deep into games, just like in the first half of this season.
None of those bids will lead to actual no-hitters, as they have all been used up for 2010.
Since this is the year of the pitcher, more so than any year since 1968, don't be surprised if there are any postseason no-hitters, but none in the regular season.
The AL Central will remain a three-team dogfight until the end of the season, and at the end, the white-hot White Sox will prevail.
The Twins will hang around and prove tough, the Tigers will be right on the White Sox's tail, but the Sox, winners of 25 of 30, will win the Central Division crown.
They'll be led by Paul Konerko, who will lead the AL in home runs with north of 30, and manager Ozzie Guillen will win Manager of the Year.
The three-time defending NL East champions, two-time defending NL champions, and 2008 World Champion Phillies will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Despite the return of sparkplug Jimmy Rollins, the injuries will be way too much to overcome for the "Phightin Phils."
In fact, they will slowly fade towards fourth place in the NL East, and they will be an afterthought by Labor Day.
Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez has already won 15 games before the All-Star break, but he will slow down considerably in the second half.
The Rockies will not have another magical September run in them, and Jimenez will finish with 22 wins, only recording seven for the rest of the season.
Why be so negative? Well, every season, when something unheard of is about to happen, it doesn't end up happening. So why would Jimenez win 25-plus games?
The Yankees and the Braves will meet in the 2010 World Series, just like old times in 1996 and 1999.
This will be a series dominated by fantastic starting pitching, with guys like C.C. Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and Phil Hughes on the Yankees, and Jair Jurrjens, Tim Hudson, and Tommy Hanson on the Braves.
The Braves, believe it or not, will have home-field advantage, and remember this: the losing pitcher in the All-Star Game was Hughes. The hitter who won it was Braves catcher Brian McCann. How ironic that players from the World Series representatives were both directly involved in the All-Star Game outcome.
The Yankees, though, will prevail, and Joe Girardi will be wearing number 29 in 2011.