…the following eight things will happen in the second half!
- Matt Kemp ends the year going 40/40. I know I have my Mike Stanton Mancrush, but my Kemp one is growing, as well. What’s not to like about a guy who's doing what he’s doing and is putting a team and an organization on his back? Sure, he was an embarrassment in the All-Star Game, but he's going to keep doing in the second half exactly what he did in the first half. If you take a look at his peripherals, his better batting eye and improved luck has contributed to his ascension. He's taking more walks than he did last year and he's striking out a little less. He's choosing better pitches to hit, he's hitting them, and he's running when he can.
- The Chicago White Sox will win the AL Central, and it's going to be close with the…Detroit Tigers. I just can't do it. I can’t convince myself that the Cleveland Indians will hang in here. I expect improved performances from underperformers like Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham alongside stronger pitching from John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Edwin Jackson. There's too much talent, albeit streaky, on this White Sox team to think they can't win this division. I'm still a believer that this is their division to lose.
- There are several guys who I think are at their peak value that I would look to deal while they’re this good. I know this may sound crazy, but many people in your league would consider Adrian Gonzalez the best player in the game right now. But I would use his Home Run Derby performance to your advantage if you own him. I think next year is the year we see the power out of him that we were all expecting. I think Gonzalez hits closer to the low 30's than the 40+ people expected. If you can fill holes with Gonzalez, who doesn’t contribute anything to one category as it is, then go ahead and sell him in a two-for-one. I feel the same way about Lance Berkman, Jair Jurrjens, Brennan Boesch and Michael Morse.
- On the opposite end, here are guys who will have big second halves: Troy Tulowitzki (because he always does), Ichiro Suzuki, Rios, Dunn, Bud Norris, Brandon Morrow and Ubaldo Jimenez.
- If you want more in-depth answers on why I feel the way I do about the players in bullets #3 and #4, leave a comment.
- Behind Kemp, the most valuable outfielder will be Jacoby Ellsbury. I'm starting to believe that he is capable of these power numbers. He's already eclipsed his career high in the majors or minors for one season, but I think the fact that he’s fully healthy and hitting in front of that offense makes him seeeeeeexy.
- The Toronto Blue Jays win the AL Wild Card. I know it's bold, but I made this prediction on my blog at the beginning of the season and I'm sticking to it. They've had some disappointing offensive performers, but I think they are all capable of bouncing back. Aaron Hill will pick it up, Brett Lawrie will be an immediate contributor, Rajai Davis will have another fabulous second half, Adam Lind and Jose Bautista will keep mashing, and the pitching around Ricky Romero will be better. I believe in the Jays, and I don't think the New York Yankees pitching can be this good anymore. I think Bartolo Colon's outing on Thursday is indicative of bad things to come for the their rotation, especially with Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano's health problems and no Joba Chamberlain.
- My division winners are: NL West: Giants, NL Central: Brewers, NL East: Phils, NL Wildcard: Braves, AL West, Rangers, AL Central: White Sox, AL East: Red Sox, AL Wildcard: Blue Jays.
Joke of the week: In the talks to decide where we may go for this vacation, my mother asked me "if there would be available seats at a Marlins game."
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