All-Star Game and Things to Look For in the Second Half

Another AL win last night, which makes it eight in a row (if we forget the tie embarrassment). What are the chances of that happening? Assuming that both teams have been pretty equal, the chances of that happening are less than 0.4%, or in other words, we would expect this to happen once every 256 years. Pretty darned unlikely, huh? On the other hand, this isn’t quite as impressive as the National League’s run of eleven straight All-Star Game victories from 1972-82. Three more to go boys.
But with the All-Star Game over, and Kenny Rogers finally banned from playing baseball (well, for the next 20 games anyways), here’s a list of the top-five things to watch for in the second half:
5. Will the AL hit as well as it did in the All-Star Game? A shocking thing happened in the first half: the National League was scoring as many or more runs than the American League the whole way through. Finally, the AL caught up and overtook the NL, but ever-so-slightly, currently scoring 4.74 runs/game versus 4.69 in the National League. Will the AL continue to trend upward, or will this be the first season since 1974 in which the NL is the higher scoring league (they also tied in ’76)?
4. Will there be a triple crown winner, the first since Carl Yaztremski in 1967? I know, I know, every year, it looks like someone has a shot at it. But Derrek Lee has had an absolutely phenomenal year and shows no signs of slowing down (1.212 OPS in June/July). His season has truly been Barry Bondsian, as Lee is currently first in batting average, first in home runs, and second in RBI. If only those Cubbies knew how to get on-base. If he does fall back in the second half, Albert Pujols could still grab the crown as well–he’s second in batting average, fifth in home runs, and third in RBI.
3. Will Roger Clemens post the lowest ERA since Bob Gibson in 1972? I know, I know, I’ve discounted some of his accomplishments this season on this site, because his defense has more than halved his ERA, but nevertheless, this chase is impressive. It won’t happen–I don’t think–Clemens will likely fall back to earth, but right now, his 1.48 ERA is slightly better than Dwight Gooden’s 1.53 ERA in 1985.
2. What will the big deadline deals be? Right now, it looks like a lot of teams want to be buyers, and not many are looking to sell. Nevertheless, there should be some talent available: guys like Mark Redman, A.J. Burnett, Brian Fuentes, Jay Witasick, Billy Wagner, Jose Mesa, Danys Baez, Joe Kennedy, and some hitters to be named later. While big deadline deals have not generally lead to World Series glory, last year proved to be the great exception. The Nomar Garciaparra deal ignited the Red Sox in their late season run. There are going to be a lot of teams with a lot of needs at the deadline, including the Red Sox, White Sox, Yankees, and every other team hoping to win it all (they all have holes to fill). Obviously, everyone is crossing their fingers that their deal impacts their team like the Cubs-Red Sox swap ignited the Sox last season.
1. Okay, I’ll go cheap here: who will win the World Series? I’ll go with my Sox, though it’s a complete crap shoot.


4 Responses to All-Star Game and Things to Look For in the Second Half

  1. Will says:

    I thought Yaz’s triple crown was in ’67?

  2. David says:

    My bad. Thanks. I’ll edit that.

  3. Rob Bonter says:

    The Braves, White Sox and Angels are in the mix, but the Cardinals really should win it all this year. Should have last year, too, but may, just may, have been jobbed by MLB and the umpires. I refer to the outrageous strike out call on Jim Edmonds on a pitch not even near the plate with the bases loaded and two out, late in game one. And I refer to a perceptive observation made by TIm McCarver in the middle innings of game four, when he stated: “Tony LaRussa is going out to check with the home plate umpire on why Red Sox pitchers are getting the low strike call, and his pitchers are not?” BINGO! THAT is the story of the 2004 World Series. The Red Sox winning was great for MLB P.R., and this, apparently, was made know to the umpires.
    When the Las Vegas line on the series came out with the Red Sox favored, I naievely interpreted it as a huge overlay opportunity as regards investing on the Cardinals. Turns out, it was more of an indication that something was amiss, such as the Cincinnati Reds odds dropping from 5-1, to about 1-5 in the days prior to the first pitch being thrown in the 1919 World Series.
    My point is that all of this was a learning experience for me, and I do not believe any of us should become wrapped up in a whole lot of “conviction” as to what will transpire, just because we think one team or the other has an edge in ability. Follow the money never made more sense than in last year’s “Fall Classic.”

  4. David says:

    I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you Rob. The Cardinals had a horrible series; it had nothing to do with the umpires. The Sox simply outplayed them in every way, if you ask me. The Cards were without their best pitcher, while the Sox had three legitimate aces going. The offenses were equal. The Red Sox were simply the superior, and more importantly and decisively, the hotter team.

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