Five Second-Half Predictions for the MLB Season
We are officially a week past the halfway point in the MLB season (sort of). Players and coaches are resting up during the All-Star break, and every team is gearing up for an exciting finish to the year. With all of the twists and turns that are about to occur in the coming weeks, here are five predictions for the second half of the 2022 season.
Final NL Wild Card Spot Decided By Last Day of Season
MLB restructured the playoffs to include three Wild Cards instead of two. As things stand in the NL, either the Braves or the Mets will most likely have the first spot. San Diego is in firm
control of the second spot, but the third slot is entirely up for grabs. The Cardinals and Phillies are tied, and the Giants are only .5 games back. Each of those three teams has their weaknesses, and each of them will most likely make moves at the deadline.
The team best poised to win this race is the Cardinals. They have a well-rounded offense, and a solid bullpen. However, their lack of starting pitching needs to be addressed. The Phillies have a high-octane offense, and Bryce Harper should be coming back before the season is over. But they have an abysmal defense, and a lackluster bullpen. The Giants don’t really have any glaring weaknesses, but they also don’t have any excellent part of their roster. Each of these teams could falter at any moment, but this race is so close that it will most likely come down to game 162.
4 AL East Teams Make the Playoffs
Barring an act of God, the Yankees are going to win the AL East by a landslide. They’ve been dominating all season, and there’s no reason that should change. That leaves the Rays, Blue Jays, and Red Sox fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive via the Wild Card. (Yes I know the Orioles have been on a great run, but let’s be serious here). On its face the notion of four AL East teams making the playoffs may seem ridiculous, but it’s far from impossible.
The Rays and Blue Jays currently sit at the first and third Wild Card spots. The Red Sox are only two games out of the third one, but the Mariners have the second spot. The only problem is that the Mariners are in the middle of a 14 game winning streak. Once they come back down to Earth, the Red Sox should be in prime position to strike. Each of these three teams are going to add at the deadline, and they are the best poised to make the playoffs. The AL East will show why it’s the best division in baseball.
Shohei Ohtani Runs Away with AL MVP Award
Aaron Judge looked like the clear frontrunner for AL MVP at the start of the season. He was mashing homers left and right, and looked like he was from another planet. However, in the past three weeks, Shohei Ohtani reminded us why he was the unanimous AL MVP last year. In the span of two days, Ohtani struck out thirteen batters one night, and then drove in 8 runs the next night. That had never been done in the history of the sport. Since June 9, Ohtani has only allowed two earned runs in 39 2⁄3 innings.
Aside from the pitching, Ohtani is having a solid year at the plate. He has a 133 WRC+, 19 home runs, and a .486 slugging percentage. He also has a .348 OBP, 10 stolen bases, and has driven in 56 runs. Ohtani got off to a slow start this season, but with the way he’s pitching and hitting, he will be the clear favorite to win AL MVP by the end of the season.
The Guardians Shock Baseball and Win the AL Central
If any of these predictions are going to come back to haunt me, it’s this one. However, I am a Guardians believer. I believe in the magic of Cleveland, and I believe they have all the right tools necessary to make the impossible happen. The offense has decent pieces. Jose Ramirez is a great anchor, Andres Giminez is blossoming into a professional hitter, and Franmil Reyes is a legit power threat. If they trade for a bat at the deadline, the offense goes from scrappy, to a serious threat.
Pitching is what is going to push the Guardians to a division victory. Shane Bieber is one of the best aces in baseball, Triston McKenzie is having a breakout year, and Cal Quantrill is a good third arm to have. In the bullpen, they have one of the best closers in baseball with Emmanuel Clase. Eli Morgan and Trevor Stephan both have sub-3 ERAs. If the Guardians are willing to pull the trigger at the deadline and acquire a bat, this rotation and bullpen will get them the AL Central crown.
Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series
The Dodgers currently have the most complete roster in baseball and it isn't particularly close. Even without Walker Buehler the starting rotation is still first in the MLB in ERA and they have power at the plate. Several superstars like, Betts, Freeman, and Turner make them a formidable foe in any playoff series.
Although they have several possible challengers like the Mets and the Padres in the National League and will most likely face off against their longtime rival Houston Astros, the Dodgers have both the talent and experience to win in November... Again.