The Braves head into the All-Star Break in first place with a 4 game lead over the New York Mets. They went 8-4 in their two week N.L. East battle to extend their lead over everyone in the division by winning every series 2-1. I predicted 7-5 thinking the we would lose at least one series but it feels good to be wrong here.
The Braves had a tremendous turnaround after playing horrible baseball to start the year in April. This being Bobby’s last season as the Braves manager the guys found a hot streak in May and have continued to play well. Bobby finally found his lead-off man in Martin Prado and things just clicked. Now a top the N.L. East and the third best record in baseball at 52-36–Yanks 56-32 Rays 54-34–the Braves will take a nice three day break of relaxation. Yes even those headed to the All-Star game in Cali. Jason Heyward won the starting role but has decided not to play. I am all for this. Take these addition three days to continue healing that thumb. He’s a smart rookie thinking about his team and not himself. Not a lot of rookies make the All-Star team, so this is a great milestone in Heyward’s career. Naturally anyone is going to want to play, but this guy is thinking about his team and he wants to win. Prado, McCann, Infante, and Hudson will all make the trip and each play an inning or two. Frank Wren is looking pretty good right now too. Everyone bashed him in April when the Braves couldn’t hit or win. The Troy Glaus pick up appeared to be a bad move as well as the Melky-Vasquez trade. Now it’s so bad and Wren looks like a genius. So my apologies Mr. Wren. However that is life. People crush you when you’re down and praise you when you’re up. Wren isn’t the first to experience this in the world of sports.
The question is, will these Braves remain on top and win the division? Will they win it all? There’s a lot of baseball left and anything can happen. The Mets won on Sunday preventing the Braves from sweeping them before the break. This gives them a little hope during the break. The Phils are only 4.5 games back and a little banged up. They’ve missed Rollins for a good bit of the first half but are glad to have him back. Polanco and Utley are still injured and the Phils are going to need to stay healthy if they want to make a run at the division title. This time last year the Phils were leading the division with a similar record they have now. It’s only a matter of time before this team gets hot. Their roster is deep and they play well as a team. They just haven’t had their full team most of this first half of baseball. In order for the Braves to remain on top they will need their pitching to be on point from the whole rotation. It won’t happen every time but starters going deep into games will certainly help throughout the second half. 6-7 quality innings from your starter is what these Bravos will need. They also need to keep fighting. A few more comeback wins and last at bat wins would be nice as well. Here are my first half awards and then I will follow up with my second half division predictions.
All-Star Break Awards
N.L. MVP: Martin Prado, Atlanta Braves
You might say this is a homer pick but I think Prado deserves this. Without Prado the Braves would be in third maybe even fourth place in the division. Prado leads the N.L in batting average at .325 and in hits with 121. He is second in runs with 61 and tied for fourth in doubles with 25. Prado is the key to the Braves success this year because he gets on base. He is a solid lead-off hitter, something the Braves have lacked as of late. Not to mention his defense is superb.
N.L. Cy Young : Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies
Jimenez leads the majors with 15 wins and was dominating in ERA but his last couple of starts bumped him to 5th in the N.L with a 2.20. He has a no-hitter this year and threw 22 1/3 innings without giving up a run. Others says Josh Johnson of the Marlins, but he’s in a pitcher friendly park. Jimenez pitches in a mile high hitter friendly park. Jimenez steps on the mound and gives his team the best chance to win, better than anyone in baseball right now.
A.L MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Cabrera leads the majors in batting avg with a .346, tied for second in home runs with 22, and leads the majors with 77 RBI’s. His Tigers are half a game back in the A.L Central and wouldn’t be there without him. You could go with Josh Hamilton, Justin Morneau, or even Robinson Cano. All their numbers are similar but the 77 RBI’s is far above everyone else so I give it Cabrera.
A.L. Cy Young: Cliff Lee, Texas Rangers
Lee is third in ERA with 2.64 and only has 8 wins. However he leads the majors in WHIP with 0.95. He has five complete games this year and his win total might be more if his previous team were a little better. His new team will certainly give him run support. His strike to walk out ratio is 91-6. 6 walks in 112 innings. Phenomenal. Lee’s numbers will continue to get better as the season moves on.
Second Half Predictions:
N.L East: I’m picking the Phils to win the division. This team is too good and only 4.5 games out of first. They will get healthy and get hot at the right time.
N.L Central: I’m picking the St. Louis Cardinals. Currently they are one game behind the Reds. There is a lot of baseball left to play and I believe the Reds will tail off towards the end of the season. The experience of Cards will win them the division.
N.L West: I’ve gotta go with the LA Dodgers here. I like their pitching and they’re only 2 games back from the Padres. Getting Manny back will help propel the Dodgers into first.
N.L. Wild Card: Atlanta Braves. They’ll drop a few in August and the Phils will catch up to them. But they continue to play great ball and make the playoffs for Bobby one last time.
A.L East: I’m going with the Yanks here. Too good…everywhere.
A.L Central: The Detroit Tigers will win with their young and old talent.
A.L West: The addition of Cliff Lee will be to much for any team in the west to catch the Texas Rangers
A.L Wild Card: The Boston Red Sox. They will finally get healthy and start winning more. But won’t able to catch the Yanks.
World Series: After beating the Yankees to make it here, the Texas Rangers will defeat the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series.
Gotta love way to early predictions. Enjoy the Home Run Derby tonight. My pick: Mr. Big Papi David all I know how to do is hit home runs Ortiz.