The first half of the Major League Baseball season is in the books and, well, no one could predict this outcome back in March. The World Champions Chicago Cubs are below .500 with only a single All-Star player, while the Brewers are seemingly more and more like the biggest threat in the NL Central. The Houston Astros are scoring more runs than their basketball neighbors. The Mets' only positive headline is that Tim Tebow is advancing the Minors. Baseballs are flying out of the ball park at record pace.
Here are some takeaways from MLB's first three and a half months of baseball:
The Judge and Kid Cody.
Cody Bellinger and Aaron Judge have taken their massive media markets of Los Angeles and New York and has put a stranglehold on them with their performances at the plate. Judge, who last season looked as lost as a child, stormed into 2017 with his 6'7, 275 lbs frame that would be commonly found on a NBA court, and has tied Mark McGwire for 30 home runs by the All Star break for a rookie. Cody, who came up at the end of April, was suppose to be a quick call up for the Dodgers. Well, whoever took the day off or was injured and replaced by Cody just got Wally Pipped and won't be seeing the LA's outfield for a while. In 70 games, he's already hit 25 home runs and pushed the Dodgers to the best record in the game.
Remember last season when Chicago had a historically great team with absolutely no weaknesses and won the World Series? Pepperidge Farms remembers. Today, that team seems to have had their talents sucked out. The once feared lineup is in the bottom half of the National League in runs scored and next to last in hits. The pitching staff that could hold teams to a few runs per game now give out runs like Oprah. With the NL West featuring teams like the Rockies and Diamondbacks that don't seem to be falling off post-break, the Cubs chances to repeat as champs comes down to their ability to catch the Milwaukee Brewers in their division while also staving off the St. Louis Cardinals at the same time.
The Washington Nationals are the National League's version of the Detroit Tigers from the early 2010s. The bullpen is outstandingly bad! The teams that win in October are the teams that can score runs in the late innings and that do not allow runs in the late innings. For a team that plays in the weakest division in baseball, a deep starting staff and three MVP candidates in Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy, their success in October relies on what they can do with their bullpen at the trade deadline.
The American League Wild Card picture.
Wild Cards don't really become that important until after the trade deadline, but it is an eyeful to look at the AL's Wild Card picture. The Yankees and Rays currently head the two WC positions, with another seven teams within five games of one of those spots! In fact, there isn't a team in the American League that is more than eight games out from the two WCs. Comparatively speaking, the National League Wild Cards positions seem in hand at this, very early, moment. The Rockies and Diamondbacks hold the position with the Cubs and Cardinals, the two closest teams, 7.5 games out. The Oakland Athletics and Chicago White Soxs are 7.5 games out in the AL Wild Card. They are also in last place in the American League! Again, the first day after the trade deadline will be a very interesting day in the American League to see what teams decide to push their cards in the middle of the table, and what teams decide to back out.