MLB second-half daring predictions: Massive trades, 30/30 for Julio Rodríguez, all of AL East over .500, extra

The 2022 MLB All-Star Recreation is within the books and the second half of the common season is upon us. The commerce deadline is 13 days away and over the subsequent 12 weeks pennants races and awards races will likely be determined. Some groups will make a shock run to the postseason and others will collapse, and have to look at October from house.

A clever man as soon as mentioned you may’t predict baseball, however I will strive anyway. Listed below are 5 daring predictions for the second half of the 2022 common season.

1. The AL East can have 5 successful groups

The Orioles are lastly — lastly! — now not an entire pushover. After a rebuild that took far too lengthy, the O’s are on the street again to being a contender, with their latest 10-game successful streak placing them over .500 this late in a season for the primary time since 2017. The Baltimore trustworthy have waited a very long time for this and so they’re loving it.

When the Orioles beat the Cubs final Wednesday to enhance to 45-44, it marked the primary time all 5 groups in a division had been over .500 that late within the season because the AL East did it on July 15, 2012. The 2005 NL East and 2000 AL West did it a number of days as effectively. These are the one situations of each staff in a division being over .500 on the identical day within the Divisional Period (since 1995). 

Listed below are the present AL East standings:

  1. Yankees: 64-28
  2. Rays: 51-41 (13 GB)
  3. Blue Jays: 50-43 (14.5 GB)
  4. Crimson Sox: 48-45 (16.5 GB)
  5. Orioles: 46-46 (18 GB)

Final season the AL East turned the primary division ever with 4 91-win groups and this season I’m boldly predicting the AL East will change into the primary division ever with 5 successful groups. Observe I mentioned “successful” groups. For our daring prediction functions a .500 file is not ok. All 5 AL East golf equipment can have extra wins than losses. 

Solely twice in historical past has each staff in a single division been .500 or higher:

Ah sure, the great outdated days when Chicago and Minnesota (and Atlanta and Cincinnati) had been “west.” Anyway, the Yankees are sitting fairly and will cruise to a successful file. They solely must go 18-52 (that is a 42-win tempo) from right here out to complete with 82 wins. This is what the opposite 4 AL East golf equipment must do the remainder of the best way to complete with a successful file:

  • Orioles: 36-34 (.514)
  • Crimson Sox: 34-35 (.497)
  • Blue Jays: 32-37 (.464)
  • Rays: 31-39 (.443)

Doable? Completely, although take into accout the division will cannibalize itself a bit as a result of these groups will play one another a lot these subsequent 12 weeks. Successful data will likely be constructed on beating groups in different divisions, and in opposition to the opposite 5 divisions the 5 AL East groups are a mixed 162-106 (.604) this 12 months. That is a 98-win tempo. Geez.

2. Contreras to the Rays; Castillo to the Braves

The commerce deadline is lower than two weeks away and Cubs catcher Willson Contreras and Reds righty Luis Castillo are two of the most important names in the marketplace. Contreras is sort of actually a goner. He is a free agent-to-be and the Cubs traded away nearly each remaining member of their 2016 World Collection core finally 12 months’s deadline. Castillo will not be a free agent till after 2023 and is much less sure to be traded, however he’s very a lot in demand.

For this daring prediction, we’ve each gamers on the transfer. First, I will say Contreras goes to the Rays. Final 12 months’s Nelson Cruz commerce confirmed us the Rays a) are prepared to commerce prospects for a veteran rental, and b) need to do greater than be generally known as the neatest staff within the sport. They need to grasp a banner for one thing greater than a wild-card berth or division title. Nearly as good as they have been the previous few years, Tampa nonetheless hasn’t received the last word prize, and the Rays’ window is as open as it should get.

A 12 months in the past the Rays averaged 5.29 runs per sport, second most in baseball. This 12 months’s they’ve averaged solely 4.22 runs per sport, nineteenth most in baseball. Their catchers are hitting a weak .195/.215/.340 by way of 92 video games and beginning backstop Mike Zunino is out long-term with thoracic outlet syndrome. With all due respect to Francisco Mejía and Christian Bethancourt (and René Pinto), catcher is an apparent place to improve.

Contreras charges as a poor framing and the Rays prioritize framing, however he is a very good blocker and an incredible thrower, and the very best hitting full-time catcher within the sport. He represents a major catching improve for a staff in a good wild-card race. There are seven groups inside 3.5 video games of the three American League wild-card spots. The Rays have extra prospects than future roster spots and turning just a few into Contreras is the type of transfer that might put them excessive within the postseason race.

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And second, I am going to say Castillo goes to the defending World Collection champs. Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos is all the time aggressive on the deadline when his staff is within the race, and he figures to have a little bit motivation this season with Atlanta making an attempt to change into baseball’s first repeat champion because the 1998-2000 Yankees. That is the time to go all-in and Anthopoulos is aware of that.

Buying and selling for a pitcher of Castillo’s caliber is rarely a foul concept, particularly since he isn’t a rental (he’ll change into a free agent after 2023), however the stars align notably effectively for this 12 months’s Braves. Take into account:

  • Neither Charlie Morton (4.45 ERA in 18 begins) nor Ian Anderson (4.79 ERA in 18 stars) is having an particularly robust season. There has even been rumblings Anderson might be despatched to Triple-A to reset.
  • Rookie Spencer Strider has thrown 74 1/3 innings and is closing in his earlier profession excessive (94 in 2021). The Braves might want to take their foot off the gasoline a bit within the second half, and possibly even transfer Strider again to the bullpen.
  • Atlanta has a ton of high quality pitching prospects in Triple-A (Bryce Elder, Kyle Muller, and so on.) and thus has the depth to make a consolidation commerce (i.e. turning a number of good prospects into one nice huge leaguer).

The Reds are slicing payroll and I ponder whether the Braves would tackle the rest of Mike Minor’s $10 million wage (and the $1 million buyout of subsequent 12 months’s possibility) to decrease the prospect price for Castillo. Minor has an unpleasant 6.21 ERA, however he has a historical past with Atlanta and his numbers the primary time by way of the lineup are strong, suggesting he might be a helpful reliever. Only a thought.

Anyway, the purpose is Contreras and Castillo will likely be on the transfer on the commerce deadline. To the Rays and Braves, respectively and particularly. It has been boldly predicted.

3. Rodríguez will go 30/30 as a rookie

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Mariners wunderkind Julio Rodríguez placed on some present on the Dwelling Run Derby, did not he? Alas, he didn’t win — Juan Soto was Justin Morneau to Julio’s Josh Hamilton — nevertheless it was Rodríguez’s introduction to the nationwide stage. Three months into his big-league profession, he is without doubt one of the sport’s finest gamers and brightest stars. Get this child on billboards, MLB.

Earlier this month Rodríguez turned the quickest participant ever to fifteen house runs and 20 stolen bases which, admittedly, are fairly arbitrary milestones. Will we care all that a lot when a man hits his fifteenth profession homer? Nah, probably not. We do care when a participant goes 30/30 although. That is an amazing accomplishment for any participant, particularly a rookie.

For this daring prediction, I am going to say Rodríguez goes 30/30 this 12 months, which might make him solely the second rookie ever to perform the feat. The good Mike Trout did it in 2012 (30 homers and 49 steals). Solely 10 different rookies have managed to go 20/20:

Randy Arozarena

2021 Rays  

20

20

Andrew Benintendi

2017 Crimson Sox

20

20

Chris Younger

2007 Diamondbacks

32

27

Carlos Beltrán

1999 Royals

22

27

Nomar Garciaparra

1997 Crimson Sox

30

22

Marty Cordova

1995 Twins

24

20

Ellis Burks

1987 Crimson Sox

20

27

Devon White

1987 Angels

24

32

Mitchell Web page

1977 Athletics

21

42

Tommie Agee

1966 White Sox

22

44

Rodríguez has 16 house runs by way of 93 staff video games, placing him on tempo to go deep 28 occasions. That could be a bit misleading although. Rodríguez wanted just a few weeks to seek out his footing on the MLB stage. He hit solely .205/.284/.260 in April and slugged only one house run in his first 33 profession video games. This sport is difficult and Rodríguez wanted a while to regulate. It occurs.

In his final 58 video games Rodríguez has authored a .293/.355/.560 batting line with 15 house runs. That is a 42-homer tempo, and if he retains it up the remainder of this season, Rodríguez will end with 34 house runs. So he has some wiggle room. Rodríguez can decelerate a bit (it is a lengthy season and fatigue might be an element in some unspecified time in the future) and nonetheless get to 30/30. I am boldly predicting it occurs.

4. Tatis leads MLB in house runs …

… from the day he’s activated by way of the top of the season. Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. suffered a broke wrist in a bike accident over the winter and had surgical procedure in March, and he simply began swinging a bat final week. He’s nonetheless weeks away from returning to the sector, however Tatis is a minimum of swinging a bat now. He is progressing along with his rehab work.

The Padres have carried out effectively sufficient with out Tatis (52-42 and within the second wild-card spot) however in some unspecified time in the future they want this man again and within the lineup. Scoring runs has been a problem at occasions. And it may be simple to neglect how good Tatis is when wholesome. This man hit .292/.364/.611 with a Nationwide League-leading 42 house runs in 130 video games final 12 months. He’s a megastar.

I do not know when precisely Tatis will return, however I’m boldly predicting that at any time when he does, he’ll lead baseball in house runs from that day by way of the top of the season. There’s going to be a whole lot of rust to shake off and wrist accidents are identified to sap energy for some time even after the participant is cleared medically, so the chances are in opposition to Tatis. However that is what makes this prediction daring, proper?

As a baseball fan who enjoys watching Tatis play, I’m hopeful he returns in the course of August. Let’s name it Aug. 15 for argument’s sake. The Padres will nonetheless have 45 video games to play and utilizing final 12 months’s house run tempo, Tatis would end with 15 house runs in these 45 video games. Assuming he performs all 45, after all. Let’s name it 13 homers to account for off-days. That is an enormous whole in 40-ish video games.

5. There will likely be a mathematical tiebreaker

And the individuals will hate it. As a part of the brand new collective bargaining settlement MLB and the MLBPA did away with Recreation 163 tiebreakers, and agreed to settle all ties mathematically. Each single tie will damaged mathematically, even in conditions the place one staff will make the postseason and the opposite is not going to. Right here is the tiebreaker process:

  1. Greatest head-to-head file.
  2. Greatest file inside division.
  3. Greatest file outdoors division.
  4. Greatest file in final 81 video games inside division.
  5. Greatest file in final 82 video games inside division, plus one till the tie is damaged.

Recreation 163 tiebreakers went away as a result of MLB would not need to push the World Collection again into mid November to accommodate the brand new best-of-three Wild Card Collection. They’re squeezing the Wild Card Collection into the present postseason schedule, and that leaves no time for Recreation 163 tiebreakers. Too dangerous. There have been some all-time basic Recreation 163s. The Bucky Dent sport in 1978, 12 innings of Twins vs. Tigers chaos in 2009, and so on. Lengthy stay Recreation 163s. I’ll miss them.

So which unlucky postseason spot will likely be first ever determined by a mathematical tiebreaker? It is fully attainable will probably be a lower-stakes race, like one staff edging out one other for a division title, and the tiebreaker loser nonetheless making the postseason as the primary wild-card staff and thus nonetheless having house discipline benefit within the Wild Card Collection. The place’s the enjoyable in that although?

For our remaining daring prediction, I am going to say the Cardinals and Phillies tie for the third and remaining Nationwide League wild-card spot, and the Phillies will go to the postseason whereas the Cardinals keep house as a result of Philadelphia has already received the season sequence 4-3. That race can have basically been determined by St. Louis blowing a three-run lead at Residents Financial institution Park on July 1 (although Nolan Arenado hit for the cycle that evening).

Within the outdated days the Phillies and Cardinals would have performed a Recreation 163 to resolve that remaining wild-card spot. Now the nerds and their “math” resolve the race. The Phillies haven’t been to the postseason since 2011, so our daring prediction requires the Nationwide League’s longest postseason drought to finish when a postseason spot that did not exist till this 12 months is set by a mathematical tiebreaker. Silly? Yeah, kinda, however the Phillies will take it. Simply get in and you’ve got an opportunity to win the World Collection.

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