MLB Storylines for Second Half of the Season
American League MVP Race
Heading into the second half the AL MVP race is between Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani. Judge is having an unbelievable year batting .284 with 70 RBIs and a league-leading 30 home runs. Judge has also managed to switch over to center field midseason and still provide gold glove caliber defense. Unfortunately for Judge, as great as he is, he doesn’t pitch. Shohei Ohtani is having another phenomenal year both on the mound and at the plate. Ohtani has pitched 87 innings with a 2.38 ERA while also hitting 19 home runs as a hitter.
NL East Race
The NL East is looking like it’s going to be the tightest division race in baseball between the Mets and the Braves. No disrespect to the Phillies, but they are probably going to be more focused on trying to secure a wild card. At the moment, the Mets hold a 2.5-game lead that has been quickly shrinking thanks to the Braves red hot June and July in which they have gone 33-11. The Mets are hoping to soon have Jacob DeGrom back on the mound which should give a nice boost to a rotation that already has Max Scherzer. I have no idea who’s going to win this division but don’t be surprised if we see one of these teams winning 100 games and still ending up as a wild card.
American League Wild Card Race
The American League wild-card race is shaping to be exciting down the stretch. Currently, the three wild card teams are the Rays, Mariners, and Blue Jays but could we see four teams from the same division make the playoffs for the first time? The Boston Red Sox are only 2 games back of the final wild card and still have one of the most exciting offenses in baseball. The Baltimore Orioles have also surprisingly stayed in this race sitting only 3.5 games back after recently winning 10 games in a row prior to the all-star break. The Guardians are only 2 games back despite having one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. The biggest surprise may be the White Sox sitting 3.5 games back. The White Sox just haven’t been able to live up to their high expectations this season, but they still have 70 games to turn their season around and sneak into a playoff spot. Fans were hoping the 3rd wild card spot would add more competitiveness to the wild card race and we are seeing just that as we may have six or seven teams competing for three playoff spots.
Juan Soto Trade Rumors
The Juan Soto situation has been the talk of baseball over the all-star break and rightfully so. After turning down a 15-year $440M deal from the Washington Nationals, reports have surfaced that the Nats will try to deal Soto prior to the deadline. Soto being available could cause mayhem as we approach the August 2 trade deadline. The return for Soto (if traded) is going to be ridiculous considering that he’s only 23 and already one of the best players in the world. I would imagine a package has to start with at least 3 of a team’s top 5 prospects and one or two young players already at the major league level. Who knows if Soto will actually get traded, but just the idea of him being available makes this a really exciting trade deadline.