MLB Half-Time: Who's Hot and Who's Not in the NL
Let's continue with summing up the wild first-half of the MLB season, by looking at the National League.
One thing is for sure, the NL is no longer “the other” league in baseball. The NL is providing plenty of drama and talent to compete with their AL counterparts.
The hottest team in the NL is the first place Atlanta Braves. Braves fans finally have something to cheer about. After a sluggish start to 2010, the Braves have been on fire once everything started to click.
Rookie sensation, Jason Heyward who was voted an All-Star but due to a deep bruised thumb will not participate. Thus far, the 20-year-old Heyward has 13 doubles, three triples, 11 home-runs, 45 RBIs, 42 walks and five stolen bases. The Braves strong pitching staff lead by Tim Hudson has made this team a real force.
Coming in second are the New York Mets, who are four games behind. Right on the Mets heels are the 2008 and 2009 NLCS champion Philadelphia Phillies who are just a half-game out.
Mets David Wright is back on his game again and Mets fans are starting to believe again. Jose Reyes and the nifty Angel Pagan make-up a solid line-up. It's the pitching that will dictate their future.
Hopefully, the Mets won't give-up and pout if the Phillies squeak past them down the stretch. It would not be the first time, so the Mets have to stay mentally strong.
The Phillies, like the Red Sox are injured all-around. However, they are getting their stride back as of late, so count them out. The 2009 Yankees were exactly where the Phillies are now.
The Marlins (10 back) and Nationals (13.5 back) have fallen to the back of the pack. Still both ball-clubs have bright futures. The Marlins have young ace Josh Johnson and hard-hitting and headed Hanley Ramirez.
The Nats have prodigy pitcher Steven Strasburg. Strasburg is on a 110 innings limit for good reason and already has the hottest selling jersey in all of MLB.
The Cincinnati Reds are the real deal. Featuring a deep line-up with the newly awakened Scott Rolen, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Drew Stubs, and Jay Bruce. They have a arsenal of talented arms, as Travis Wood almost threw a perfect game against the Phillies just last week.
The St. Louis Cardinals, just like their AL counterparts the Minnesota Twins, have owned this division for quite a few seasons. Manager Tony La Russa has made some questionable calls this season, considering the Cards awesome pitching and great hitting.
Surprisingly bad play by the Milwaukee Brewers has put them 10.5 games out, along with the Chicago Cubs.
The Houston Astros, at 13.5 back still stink, but they are not the worst.
Last place is cemented again by the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are 18 games behind.
The Cubs should look just across the city for some inspiration from their rival White Sox. Giving up is the Cubs motto. But, haven't the fans earned a post-season berth by now?
The San Diego Padres have lead the West pretty much from the start of the season. The pitching gets questioned a lot due to an arm-friendly Petco Park, but it is completely irrelevant considering they have the best ERA in MLB in away-games.
The Padres have the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies both two back from stealing first-place. Both the Rockies and the Dodgers are steadily getting back to playing consistently good baseball, so the Padres can't miss a beat.
The San Francisco Giants are still in this race as they trail the Padres by four games.
The “freak” aka Tim Lincecum was the Cy Young last year, but his velocity is down this season. Lincecum fast-ball is gaining some speed again so things look to be on there way up. Maybe trading Bengie Molina was not the best idea for a pitching staff that is now struggling.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have the younger Upton, who is destined for greatness. Not sure if that will happen while in Arizona, a team 17 games back, but they can start to look towards 2011.
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