Baseball teams have reached the midway point of the season and after several surprises the first two months of the season, order has seemingly been restored. Teams that were supposed to be leading their divisions are in first place after stumbling in March and April.
One surprise of the season so far has been players who were expected to have strong years have stumbled. Others that weren’t expected to do much, have helped lead their teams.
Below are some of the winners and losers at the halfway point.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Boys in Blue were feeling blue after the first three months of the season. They lost their starting shortstop Corey Seager to a season-ending UCL sprain that will need Tommy John surgery. The pitching staff, including ace Clayton Kershaw, were injured.
The team, however, has stayed resilient throughout and managed to stay in the National League West race. They are a half-game in front of Arizona for first-place, and trading for Manny Machado on Wednesday might give them the extra bat they need to push deep into the playoffs.
Boston Red Sox
Quietly the Red Sox have amassed the best record in baseball at the All-Star break, compiling a 68-30 mark. Like the Dodgers, Boston has prevailed despite injuries to the pitching staff.
They might be getting starter Drew Pomeranz back earlier than expected. The southpaw looked strong in a rehab start for Triple A Pawtucket, and could be back in the rotation by the weekend. While all the preseason talk was about Houston, New York and Los Angeles competing for the World Series, The Red Sox, which began the season at 10/1, are now the favorite to win at 9/2.
Duffy wasn’t even sure he would play ever again after suffering a left Achilles injury that required surgery. The Tampa Bay third baseman wasn’t sure about his future.
“I thought my career was essentially over,” Duffy told Juan Toribio of The Athletic.
Now he is enjoying his best year since his rookie year in 2015. He is hitting .317, and is definitely the frontrunner for Comeback Player of the Year.
Manager Buck Showalter can’t be sleeping well after Wednesday saw his best player Machado traded to the Dodgers. They got five minor league prospects in return, but the skipper might not be around to see them reach the majors.
Showalter was on the hot seat even before Machado was dealt. The team has the second-worst record in the majors, and the whispers are getting louder about a managerial change.
This was supposed to be Harper’s audition for the soon-to-be free agent and his quest to sign what some thought could be a $400 million contract next year. That was before the Washington Nationals’ MVP started producing very un-Harper like numbers.
The outfielder is hitting .214, his lowest average of his career, though he does have 23 home runs, good for a tie for eighth. The season is not a complete loss, and Harper can turn it around, but he will need a phenomenal second half if he is going to have any serious negotiating power in the offseason.
All of the St. Louis outfielders have been a disappointment, but Fowler may be the biggest of the three. He is in the second year of a five-year, $82.5 million contract, and hasn’t come close to living up to all the money the Cardinals shelled out to him.
He is hitting a paltry .176, has an on base percentage of .270, and a slugging percentage of .297. He had 18 home runs and 64 RBI last year. He has seven homers and 26 RBI so far this year. He’s getting a new manager, so maybe that will help turn his season around.