July 18, 2008

Second half antics

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball, Golf

Well, since Phil Mickelson’s awful performance, the Shark’s surprising play and the poor conditions at Royal Birkdale won’t actually interest me until, well, Sunday’s final round, how about some bold predictions about baseball’s “second half?”

Oh come on, like you could say no to me.

Despite what people are thinking and managers are saying, the Rays cannot keep up their play from the first half. They’re a poor road team and the major of their remaining schedule is away from Tropicana Field. Teams will also have better scouting on some of the younger guys and will have adapted to their play. The Rays will still beat out the Yankees though and finish second in the AL East.

Josh Hamilton will slow down. It’s not that he won’t keep mashing in runs, but keeping up a pace of more than a RBI per game is just nutty. The Rangers may trade Milton Bradley too which would only hurt Hamilton’s value.

The surprise guy that will keep it up? Carlos Quentin. Playing in Chicago when it’s humid is the perfect recipe for mashing. Guys like Nate McLouth and Ryan Ludwick have already started slumping back to earth. They’ll finish better than they were expected to, but they’ve been over their heads thus far.

Some of the young arms in the NL will have struggles in the second half. Out of Tim Lincecum and Edinson Volquez, the latter is more likely to struggle. Volquez has a history of control problems and it’s more likely they crop up than Lincecum struggles. Tim’s wins will decrease because he plays by the Bay, but his other numbers will stay strong and will contend for the Cy Young.

The NL is going to be chock full of crazy intense playoff races. While Philly and New York battle in the east, there’s also a three team brawl in the central between Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis. Then there’s still the wild card to be fought for between the three losers of said races. Also, somebody has to win the NL west — apparently. I’ll take the Phillies in the east, the Cubs in the central and the Brewers for the wild card and then be dominant in the playoffs with their Sheets-Sabathia 1-2 punch.

Arizona will be over .500 and win the NL west. The Dodgers will finish second but will be a half dozen games back.

In the AL central, Minnesota’s inexperience will be their downfall, the Tigers will charge towards the White Sox but will ultimately fall short. I don’t think Chicago can win the AL but they can take their division for sure.

The A’s are always a second half team but the way they’re selling, it’s hard to envision them keeping pace with the Angels, even if Anaheim doesn’t add the power bat they so woefully need.

Tampa Bay will finish their storybook season with a wild card birth followed by an early loss in the playoffs. Boston has too much experience to fall to the Rays. Remember, this is the Rays were talking about here; let’s not get too ahead of ourselves by thinking they can actually take it all. The Yankees, sadly, will miss the playoffs for the first time in who knows how long. At least they’ll finally get a wake up call and start a better rebuilding effort. I’m expecting a decent turnaround in 2009 when The House That A-Rod Built opens.

Finally, I think that if Boston can get by the Angels, there’s no stopping them. This isn’t the Cubs year like many think. It’s going to be another victory for the Boston sports scene.

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