With the second half of the season beginning in full on Friday, the All-Star break gave an indication on what the rest of the year should hold for Major League baseball. Questions in Spring Training on how players and teams would do in first 90 games have now provided answers.
Some of the results are a bit shocking, both in a good and bad way. Bryce Harper has been a disappointment, while Cody Bellinger has been a surprise. The Cubs are holding a slim lead in the NL Central, while the Mets are floundering in the NL East. The Yankees are atop the AL East, even with a myriad of injuries. The Red Sox are in third place in the same division.
Online Gambling News takes a look at some of the winners and losers at the All-Star break. What do the winners need to do to stay there, and what do the losers need to do different.
New York Yankees
Everyone knew the New York Yankees were going to be good, but no one knew how good. The team was tested with double-digit injuries to key players, such as Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and C.C. Sabathia.
The Yankees, however, survived injury after injury. The team has a 57-31 record, best in the American League. They also have a 6.5-game lead in the division.
“When I look at our team now, we’re capable of being the best team in the world,” manager Aaron Boone said.
Last year Bellinger wasn’t trusted in big games, now the outfielder is the favorite to win the NL MVP. Bellinger, who turns 24 on Saturday, has put up strong numbers. He has a batting average of .336, 30 home runs, and 71 RBI.
He broke the franchise record of most homers before the All-Star break, previously held by Gil Hodges and Duke Snider. Bellinger believes he has adjusted to being a major leaguer.
“Just grinding, to be honest. I think there are days that you feel good – but the days that you don’t – you have to figure out a way to just do it,” Bellinger said. And that’s what I am figuring out. That goes for most hitters, you have to figure out a way to get it done when you don’t feel good.”
The Minnesota Twins were expected at best to be a wild card team, but they had other ideas. Utilizing a deep and powerful offense, as well as one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, the team is overachieving.
The Twins are currently in first place in the AL Central by 5.5 games over Cleveland, who was widely expected to take the division. Minnesota is also on pace to win 100 games.
The newest Philadelphia Phillies player was in a no-win situation when he signed the richest contract in sports history. Harper was booed by the fans almost immediately, and has not done much to win them over.
Harper is batting .253 with just 16 home runs and 62 RBI. That’s not what either the Phillies, or there fans were expecting when the signed him.
Major League Pitchers
Baseballs are flying out of the stadium at a record rate, and pitchers are definitely noticing. Houston ace Justin Verlander has given up four less homers than he has in any single season in his career.
Commissioner Rob Manfred tried to explain it away with some theory that few people are buying. If the home run rate continues, the total will shatter the 2017 record.
People were a bit shocked when the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook made the over and under win total for Baltimore at 59.5. It was the lowest they had ever posted and bettors jumped on the over.
That might have been a bad decision. The team is 27-62 with more than half of the season gone. It might turn out that 59 was too high.