Pitching- Is this the year of the pitcher? Halladay; Lee; Jurrjens; Hamels; Sabathia; Verlander; Shields; Beckett; Weaver…the list is endless. Low era’s, wins, shut-outs, ESPN crawls that whisper seventh inning no-hitter. Who is going to win a CY Young? Who will break down in the second half? Who can lead their team to the World Series 2011?
Lack of Power- What happened to all that great power and home run hitting? Adam Dunn…what is the deal? Last year, with the Nats, he batted .260; 38 HR; 130 ribbies. With the Sox, he is batting .160 and is on pace to hit 18 home runs and 68 RBIs. But Dunn’s not the only one. A lot of former all-stars have shown a drop in power: Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Joe Mauer have all struggled in one way or another. The only true big bopper has been Jose Bautista. Do we need smaller ball parks, or a Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds “hitting” clinic?
Tight Races– Every division race is running like the tracks at Belmont. Even the Pirates, who haven’t finished over .500 in 19 years, sit one game out of first place. The Diamondbacks and Giants look to battle it out in the NL West. The NL Central just got a little more interesting with the Brew Crew’s pick up of K-Rod. Will that put Milwaukee over the top or cause more NL Central moves? Anyway you look at it; it’s a mighty tight race. The NL East, as predicted, looks to be a pitcher’s duel between the Phillies and the Braves. Still, it should be fun to see the Met’s fire sale and the Nat’s coming of age.
In the American League East, the battle lines are permanently drawn down I-95. Boston and NY have flipped back and forth in the standings all season…yet, never discount those pesky Rays–they are a little further down the corridor, but can still be a nuisance. In the AL Central, like their cousin the NL Central, it’s playing out to be pretty tight battle. There are three teams within a half game of each other and, the fourth team, the Twins are getting healthy. In the West, it appears to be a fight between the Rangers and Angels.
-Heather S. Greenberg