Postseason

National League playoff predictions

The National League has been interesting so far this year. In the Central, there’s a jam-packed division with teams floating around the .500 mark. In the West, the Dodgers have a strong grip on first place but the Rockies and Diamondbacks are also having great years. The East however is pretty much a lock with the Nationals having little competition getting in their way.

Here is a look at who will most likely be making an appearance in October.

Los Angeles Dodgers, National League West

National League playoff predictions

The Dodgers hope Kershaw’s injury will not keep him out for long (nydailynews)

The Dodgers currently have the best record in baseball and they have been tough to stop. They had a stretch of winning 30 of 34 games and are playing like they will be able to break their championship drought.

Los Angeles just took a major hit to their rotation. Clayton Kershaw left in the second inning of Sunday’s game with lower back issues. He landed on the 10-day DL and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

Kershaw has kept up his typical excellence thus far, so the Dodgers will have a lot to overcome with this injury. They are sitting pretty with a 10.5-game lead on the Rockies, but with how the division is playing this is no time to coast.

It will be interesting to see if the Dodgers will be looking for starting pitching help within the next week with this new injury. If Kershaw misses significant time, they may look for some rotation help to shore things up.

The Dodgers’ pitching staff has the best ERA in the majors, however the Diamondbacks are right behind them in that category. Los Angeles should not take the injury lightly as it is important for them to maintain their strong lead in the West. Otherwise, the Rockies or Diamondbacks could make a run for them.

All around, the Dodgers are still the best team in the National League even without Clayton Kershaw. The young duo of Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger have been fantastic this year on top of the stellar season from Justin Turner. The Dodgers have also been in the mix for Orioles closer Zach Britton. If the Dodgers make a move for Britton, it will be nearly impossible to beat them if they have a lead in the seventh inning or later.

Chicago Cubs, National League Central

National League playoff predictions

Jose Quintana has won his first two starts for the Cubs (CBS Sports)

The Cubs have finally started to hit their stride. They are 8-1 since the All-Star break and have caught the Brewers in the Central.

The Brewers however are starting to regress like a lot of people predicted. They are 3-7 since the break with six of those games against the Philadelphia Phillies. Things aren’t getting easier as their next two series are against the Nationals and the Cubs.

Chicago has gotten a spark since the Jose Quintana trade. They gave up their best prospect in Eloy Jimenez, but may have received one of the key pieces they were looking for to fill out their roster.

One more thing they may look for at the deadline though is bullpen help. Wade Davis has been an excellent add this season for the Cubs, but they may need more help to fill out their relief pitching. The Cubs have been linked to Pat Neshak of the Phillies who is having a stellar year. He would make for a great combo of Neshak-Davis in the eighth and ninth.

The offense is also starting to play to its potential as of late. The combo of Bryant-Rizzo-Schwarber was supposed to be one of the most feared cores in the majors. Bryant and Rizzo are playing to expectations while Schwarber is slowly improving from his abysmal first half of the season.

The Cubs are starting to return to their 2016 form though, and if it keeps up then there will be no team in the Central that will be able to keep up with them.

Washington Nationals, National League East

National League playoff predictions

Harper has had an MVP caliber year (Sports Illustrated)

The Nationals may be the surest bet for the postseason at this point. They are not the best team in the league by any means, but they do not have any competition in their division that will come close to threatening them for the title in the East.

As with most teams in the league, the bullpen has the biggest question mark on the team. The Nationals do have some prospects they can deal in order to shore things up, because it will be vital for them to have a more reliable bullpen in the postseason.

Their bullpen currently ranks as the worst in all of baseball, and that simply will not suffice if the Nationals want to compete in the playoffs.

Although they have the worst ranked bullpen, they have the top ranked offense in the National League. Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy have been a deadly combo this year that will throw any pitcher fits. Each one of them could be in the conversation for MVP, but the Dodgers have some serious contenders themselves.

Either way, the offense has been a big reason for their success along with their ace, Max Scherzer. It has been discussed that Scherzer may actually be the best starting pitcher in the league today.

Arizona Diamondacks, National League Wild Card #1

National League playoff predictions

J.D Martinez makes the Diamondbacks lineup much stronger (arizonasports)

The Diamondbacks showed the league that they are serious this year with their acquisition of J.D. Martinez. Martinez makes the Diamondbacks’ lineup strong enough to perhaps be able to compete with the best offenses in the league. The Goldscmidt-Martinez combo along with the other Arizona hitters who are having great years would be tough to stop in a playoff series.

Robbie Ray is having a career year and Zack Greinke has returned to his Cy Young form. It seemed that Greinke may have lost his edge when he went to Arizona. However, he is proving that 2016 was a fluke and he is still an elite pitcher.

The pitching staff has overall been a real plus this year as only the Dodgers have been more successful. With the injury to Kershaw, the Diamondbacks may have a better opportunity to catch up to them.

The Diamondbacks have only won three of their past 10 games. This most likely will not last though. Every team has ups and downs during a season, and Arizona is just in the middle of it right now. Although they probably won’t be able to catch the Dodgers, they have a good enough team to take a wild card spot. In any other division in the NL they would have a much better shot at a title, they just happen to be in the best one in the majors right now.

Colorado Rockies, National League Wild Card #2

National League playoff predictions

Blackmon is having a career year in Colorado (The Denver Post)

The third team that has a good shot of making the playoffs from the National League West is the Rockies are having a breakout year. Colorado has some good young pitching but much of their success comes from their offense. Nolan Arrenado is proving to be an elite third baseman and Charlie Blackmon is having a career year.

Colorado is tied with Washington for the second best offense in the majors. What is interesting about this stat is that one would think that this is because they are hitting a lot of home runs since they are in Colorado. However, the Rockies actually rank 16th in home runs in the majors. They are getting guys in all sorts of different ways.

The Rockies will have a tough time holding their lead in the wild card over the Diamondbacks. Since Arizona has such a stronger pitching staff, it is most likely that they will overrun them.

They are looking for players to bolster their rotation, the only problem is that they are in Colorado. Yu Darvish has already stated that he does not want to be traded to the Rockies. The reason why the Rockies have a such hard time getting good pitching is because of their ballpark. However, Colorado needs a stronger rotation in order to compete in the postseason and stay ahead in the National League.

 

 

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Todd Frazier David Robertson trade

Fantasy impact of the Todd Frazier and David Robertson trade

On July 19, the Chicago White Sox traded former All-Stars Todd Frazier and David Robertson, along with reliever Tommy Kahnle, to the New York Yankees. In return, Chicago received the 29th ranked prospect by MLB.com Blake Rutherford, struggling reliever Tyler Clippard and two prospects: Former first round pick Ian Clarkin and outfielder Tito Polo.

For the Yankees, they are in clear win now mode after moving one of their top five prospects in a deal to bolster both their lineup and bullpen.

On the other hand, the White Sox are continuing their fire sale. According to MLB.com, they now have 10 prospects within the top 100: Yoan Moncada (1), Eloy Jimenez (8), Michael Kopech (11), Luis Robert (23), Lucas Giolito (28), Blake Rutherford (29), Reynaldo Lopez (35), Carson Fulmer (58), Dylan Cease (62) and Zack Collins (67).

Todd Frazier

fantasy impact Todd Frazier David Robertson trade

Todd Frazier (Photo by the New York Times)

Frazier, who was surrounded by trade rumors all season, has finally been dealt to the New York Yankees.

Coming off of a 40-home run year in 2016, it is fair to say Frazier has been quite a disappointment this season. The 31-year-old is currently batting .201 with 16 home runs and 44 RBIs.

He will presumably bat in bottom third of the order in New York, which doesn’t bode well for his fantasy value, although his BABIP is a minuscule .209, so some positive regression in his batting average seems inevitable. Also, his discipline at the plate is improved from 2016, as he is striking out less and walking more.

Frazier’s value is trending upward, but not necessarily because of the change in scenery.

David Robertson

fantasy impact Todd Frazier David Robertson trade

David Robertson (Photo by the NY Daily News)

The Yankees’ bullpen was in desperate need of a dependable arm, as closer Aroldis Chapman currently has his highest ERA ever with 3.65 while setup man Dellin Betances is walking an astronomical 7.29 batters per nine innings.

Robertson will be a perfect fit in the seventh or eighth inning in between Betances and Chapman. He will also presumably be second in line for save opportunities. The 32-year-old is heading back to New York after departing during free agency in 2014.

If your league only counts saves, Robertson will lose a significant amount of value, although if your league counts holds, Robertson value will be increased as he is now in a setup role for a contending team.

Yoan Moncada

fantasy impact Todd Frazier David Robertson trade

Yoan Moncada (Photo by Getty Images)

With Todd Frazier heading to New York, Chicago opted to fill the void with the number one ranked prospect in the MLB. Moncada made his White Sox debut on July 19, playing second base and batting sixth.

The 22-year-old seems to be heavily overvalued in fantasy terms, as he was striking out at a 28 percent clip in Triple-A and was only batting .282 with a .379 BABIP. Moncada’s potential is duly recognized, although I can’t see him being relevant in standard redraft formats this season.

In dynasty and keeper formats, his value is much higher as he is a five-category producer that is sure to improve his strikeout rate over time.

Blake Rutherford

fantasy impact Todd Frazier David Robertson trade

Blake Rutherford (Photo by The Greedy Pinstripes)

The 18th overall pick in the 2016 draft is making his way to Chicago to join the most talented minor league system in the MLB.

As a 19-year-old, Rutherford batted .351 in rookie ball. In 2017, he was called-up to Single-A and batted .281 with 30 RBIs in 71 games. If he continues to find success, it shouldn’t be long until he reaches the Double-A level.

He has drawn comparisons to David Justice because of his size and skill set, as he stands 6-foot-3 weighing 195 pounds, while also possessing raw power and speed. He will be a highly sought after fantasy asset as he climbs the minor league ladder.

 

Featured image by MLB.com

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J.D. Martinez trade

Fantasy impact of the J.D. Martinez trade

On July 19th, the Detroit Tigers traded former All-Star J.D. Martinez to the Arizona Diamondbacks for three prospect infielders, Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King.

Background

Fantasy impact J D Martinez trade

During Martinez’s first three years in Houston, his per 162 game average was .251, 15 home runs and 81 RBI (Photo by Getty Images)

The former 20th round pick by the Houston Astros has palpably out performed expectations. During his first three years in Houston, his per 162 game average was .251, 15 home runs and 81 RBI.

In his four seasons in Detroit, Martinez batted .300, while averaging 35 home runs and 100 RBI per 162 games. The 29-year-old is currently batting .302 with 16 home runs, 38 runs scored and 39 RBI in 58 games played.

Since teaming up in Detroit with first ballot Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera, as well as All-Stars Victor Martinez, Justin Upton and Ian Kinsler, Martinez has reinvented himself as a player. He exclaims that “[he] learned so much just from watching them and picking their brains, and it really did help,” (, Detroit Free Press). The largest analytical change with Martinez was his increased hard contact rates

Now on the move to Arizona, Martinez will become one of the veterans in the group. His offensive production will be vital to the Diamondbacks success, as even though they are already an elite offense, they are in the only division in which three teams have over a 57 percent winning percentage.

Impact of the NL West

Fantasy impact J D Martinez trade

Martinez will inevitably face super stars Clayton Kershaw (Photo by Washington Times)

A move to the National League West will be beneficial to Martinez due to Park Factors. “Park Factor(s) compare the rate of stats at home vs. the rate of stats on the road. A rate higher than 1.000 favors the hitter. Below 1.000 favors the pitcher” (ESPN).

His new home ball park of Chase Field ranks second in runs with 1.202 and third in home runs with 1.306, which favors heavily him compared to his former home stadium, Comerica Park which ranks 12th and 10th respectively, which only favored him slightly.

Other parks in the NL West that will benefit Martinez’s production include Coors Field, which ranks first in runs and third in home runs, and Dodgers Stadium, which ranks 15th in runs and 11th in home runs.

One negative when it comes to the move to the NL West is that he will need to play six games in San Francisco and three in San Diego, as their ball parks rank both rank heavily in the pitchers’ favor in terms of runs and home runs.

Also, Martinez will inevitably face superstars Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner, although he is batting .293 on the career and .474 this season against south paws.

Impact of the Diamondbacks’ lineup

Martinez will go from the 11th most productive offense in the MLB to the sixth, which should boost his counting stats a bit. He will slide into the five spot in the lineup behind MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt and budding stars Jake Lamb, A.J. Pollock and David Peralta.

Martinez’s RBI production is sure to skyrocket as each of the aforementioned players are batting above .275 with an on-base percentage of at least .340 this season.

Injury history

Fantasy impact J D Martinez trade

J.D. Martinez is suffering from a hand contusion after being hit by a pitch (Photo by Charlotte Observer)

Currently, Martinez is suffering from a hand contusion after being hit by a pitch. He is listed on the injury report as day-to-day, as they expect him to return to action during the weekend of July 22. So far in 2017 alone, Martinez has also suffered foot and back injuries, although when healthy, he is clearly an All-Star caliber player.

He has only totaled 125 games or more in one season, which he played in 158 games and was voted an Al-Star and Silver Slugger, while finishing 15th in the AL MVP vote.

Long-term fantasy impact

The long-term fantasy impact for Martinez is trending upward. He is on the final leg of his two-year, $18.5 million contract, and if he were to resign with Arizona, he is sure to be a top-10 outfielder. He will continue to offer elite four-category contributions in batting average, home runs, runs and RBIs.

If he were to sign elsewhere, he would remain an elite fantasy option, although being in Arizona elevates his fantasy ceiling to new heights.

 

Featured image by MLive.com

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Why the MLB is failing compared to other major sports

On Wednesday, Colorado Rockies All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado smashed a career-high three home runs in a game in which the Rockies annihilated the San Diego Padres, 18-4. Not only did he collect five hits, but Arenado drove in seven, which tied a career-high. Unfortunately, Arenado’s 14 total bases were only seen by the fans at Coors Field, as the game was not televised in Colorado.

Seriously.

According to a report by Sports Illustrated, Colorado’s broadcast partner, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, only broadcasts 150 games per year. Of course, they decided not to broadcast a game in which, the team ranked second in the NL in runs, put up an 18 spot.

Arenado is poised to go down as one of the greats at third. (statliners.com)

The saddest part of this story, besides Clayton Richard giving up 10 earned runs in less than four innings (prayers up to Richard and his ERA), is the fact that people are missing out on watching one of the game’s best players in Nolan Arenado.

In fact, the majority of people do not even know who this guy is. Arenado, who does not have social media because he’s “kind of afraid of it”, is on pace to be one of the best third baseman ever.

No player before the age of 26 whose primary position was third base, has had at least one 40 homer and 130 RBI season. At 26, Arenado has already done this twice and could very well be heading to a third straight year of eclipsing those numbers. In 2015, Arenado’s 89 extra-base hits were the most in a season by a third basemen.

So how does he stack up against the all-time greats at age 26?

THROUGH AGE 26

Mike Schmidt .251/131/373

  • Two All-Star appearances
  • One Gold Glove

George Brett .309/74/461

  • Four All-Star appearances

Nolan Arenado* .288/147/513

*Projected stats are added in for his 26-year-old season since it has not finished

  • Three All-Star appearances
  • Four Gold Gloves

On pace to be arguably the best third baseman this game has ever seen, Arenado is barely known. So what is the problem with the MLB?

CONSPIRACY THEORY #1: THE BEST PLAYErS CANNOT CONTROL THE GAME

Ahh America’s Pastime. A game played on a diamond with four bases. While arguably one of the hardest sports, baseball is also really hard to control, especially for one player. Growing up, young fans admire the players who can take over the game and lead their team to victory.

As a kid, I remember countless times in which Kobe Bryant would take over the offense and lead the Lakers to victory with ease. Tom Brady seems to always find ways for the Patriots to achieve success, hence the five rings.

When compared to the NBA or NFL, the MLB is just one of those leagues in which their stars cannot control the game, hence why its players are not as popular.

Why MLB failing

The Angels are 2-3 during the last five games in which Trout has gotten four hits. (usatoday.com)

So what do I mean by this? Of the last five times Mike Trout has gotten at least four hits in a game (dating back to 2013), the Angels have lost three of them. In those five games, Trout batted .909 with three home runs and 14 RBIs.

Essentially flawless games, Trout dominated and somehow the Angels have a losing record in that span. In games in which Kobe Bryant scored 25 or more points on 70 percent shooting or better, the Lakers went a perfect 8-0.

In games in which Tom Brady completed 75 percent of his passes, the New England Patriots are 26-0. When these athletes perform, 3/4th of the time, their teams are undefeated. Trout succeeded 90 percent of the time and the Angels were unable to maintain a winning record.

During his 12 years with the Toronto Blue Jays, Roy Halladay won 66 percent of his games. In those 12 years, the Blue Jays never made the postseason. During his storied career, Brett Favre won 62 percent of his games and was considered one of the most popular athletes.

One thing is clear, baseball players cannot control games like players from the NBA or NFL can, which makes it hard to popularize.

CONSPIRACY THEORY #2: BASEBALL IS BORING

This might not even be a conspiracy theory. At this point, many people think that baseball is boring and almost impossible to watch. The game is simply too slow. As a player, you have to wait your turn to bat, and if you’re not pitching, you have to hope the ball is hit in your direction so that you can attempt to make a play.

Why MLB failing

Be Like Steph! (abclocal.go.com)

As a viewer, you only get to see the best player bat about four times a game, and see your ace pitch every fifth day. Imagine if LeBron James only shot four times in a game? Or if Aaron Rodgers only threw a handful of times?

As we know, the Cubs ended their 108-year championship drought by winning the 2016 World Series. It was one of the most hyped Game 7’s in baseball history, but did you know that more people tuned in to watch an NFL divisional playoff game between the Steelers and Broncos than for the final game of the World Series?

Not only is it tough to watch, but it is also hard to relate to for the kids growing up. You can’t pretend you are Bryce Harper and hit a 450-foot home run in your backyard, but what you can do is this: Go to a local court and pull up from half court like your Steph Curry. If you want to get real fancy, you can get a group of friends together and try to make crazy one handed catches like Odell Beckham Jr.

CONSPIRACY THEORY NUMBER THREE: IT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO BE POPULAR UNLESS YOU ARE ON A BIG MARKET TEAM

No MLB players cracked ESPN’s 2017 World Fame 100, which ranks the 100 most famous athletes on the planet. Unless the MLB markets better, this will be the trend for future years. When you think about popular MLB stars of recent years, you think of guys like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and David Ortiz. These are superstars who played on two big market teams. Now that they are gone, baseball is in dire need of a superstar on a big market team.

To wrap this up, we will take a look at the Instagram followers of the best baseball players in the world, compared to really solid NBA players, who play on small market teams.

Why MLB failing

Will MLB ever market as well as the NBA? (YouTube)

MLB Players (Followers)

Mike Trout (1.3 MIL)

Bryce Harper (1.2 MIL)

Max Scherzer (96.3K)

 

NBA Players (Followers)

Damian Lillard (3.7 MIL)

Paul George (5.3 MIL)

Demarcus Cousins (2.1 MIL)

As you can see, the NBA has no problem marketing for their good players, even on teams that are not as popular. Could this be because the players take over games, always have opportunities to make plays and play a sport that is fun to watch?

 

Featured image by DenverPost.com

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A Glance at the AL East

We are almost at the 100-game mark for the MLB season, which leverages the rumors for October. Today, we take a look at the AL East, and the tight battle between Boston, Tampa Bay and New York. What will each team need to do to capture the division? What is Baltimore and Toronto failing at? Let’s take a look.

First Place: Boston Red Sox (54-42)

Chris Sale, after striking out the side (overthemonster.com)

It’s no surprise that Boston is in first place. Coming into this season, Boston added Chris Sale to its pitching rotation, which inevitably made the Sox one of the toughest rotations in the whole league.

In order to remain in first, the Red Sox pitchers need to continue to have great games on the mound. Rick Porcello, the 2016 Cy Young award winner, needs to step up and finish strong for Farrell. Porcello is 4-12 in 20 games, with 20 home runs against him, the most homers allowed off any pitcher in the clubhouse.

Finally getting back from soreness in his elbow, David Price needs to go back to his usual dominant starts like he is capable of. Other than that, Sale and Pomeranz combine for 21 wins and a total of 299 strikeouts.

With Brock Holt finally back as well, you will see this lineup ramp up and get on a hot streak. Dustin Pedroia is dominating the AL since the All Star Break, batting .379 with 8 RBIs.

Second Place: Tampa Bay Rays (51-45)

Logan Morrison after he launches a ball (draysbay.com)

After the Rays finished last, and stood 25 games behind in the AL East, they strive for a full change this season. They currently sit in second place, being only three games behind Boston. What’s working for them this year that failed last year?

Pitching has been the Rays’ claim to fame this season. As a team itself, Tampa Bay sits in 5th out of 15 teams in ERA. Guys like Chris Archer and Alex Cobb have stepped up big time, and Matt Andriese has helped too.

On top of that, Tampa Bay is hitting the ball very well this season. They sit in third in homers with 140, and fourth in RBIs with 433.

Logan Morrison is on fire, and has 26 homers and 61 RBIs, leading the team in both categories. Corey Dickerson is having a dominant season, starting in the All Star Game last week, batting .310 which leads the team in average.

If the Rays continue to hit well, you could see them go from last place to first place from one season to the next. Archer and Cobb need to be consistent on the mound to gain first place.

Third Place: New York Yankees (48-45)

Aaron Judge: The leader of this team so far this year. Judge is leading the team in every hitting category, with the exception of one category: doubles. Yes, he leads the team in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, on-base plus slugging percent, hits, at-bats, RBIs, triples, home runs, runs and hits. All that for one player.

Aaron Judge hits a HR 450ft+ (nypost.com)

The Yankees have been in a weird position. You think they should be the best team in the AL East due to the crazy statistics that Judge is putting up, but they are descending in the standings game by game.

They are 4-6 in last 10, not to mention that Judge has three hits on 29 at-bats, batting a whopping .103 since the All Star Break.

The Yankees were in first place not that long ago.

In order to get back on top, they need more pitchers to do their job. Masahiro Tanaka is 7-9, with a 5.33 ERA and 27 homers against. Tanaka is letting up too many hits. Montgomery is 6-5 with a 4.09 ERA and a opponents batting average of .247.

As long as Judge does not slow down, this Yankees squad is capable of doing damage to any team in the AL.

fourth place: baltimore orioles (45-49)

Eight games behind Boston, the Baltimore Orioles need to pick things up, quickly. A wild card team that finished just four games behind first place last season is slipping away. What isn’t working for them?

Machado’s controversial slide into Pedroia (baltimoresun.com)

Simply, their pitching is at an all-time worst. They sit in 15th out of 15 teams in the AL for team ERA. Their ERA of 5.07 is good for second-worst in the MLB.

Honestly, there’s no hope in Baltimore making the playoffs this season. Kevin Gausman holds a 6-7 record with a 6.11 ERA, while Ubaldo Jimenez is 4-5 with a 7.01 ERA. It’s not been the best season for these starters. Baltimore sits in last in the MLB in BAA at .279.

It is also time for Machado to ramp his game up. He is currently batting .239 with 76 strikeouts, the fourth most on the team. Machado finished the 2016 season with a batting average of nearly .300. He was the leader on the team for hitting, alongside Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis.

This season could turn out to be a total bust for the Orioles.

Fifth Place: Toronto Blue Jays (43-51)

The Blue Jays stand 10 games behind Boston, and safe to say, they have little to no chance to capture the division. The Blue Jays finished with nearly 90 wins last season, and one year later they are on the outside looking in. What’s wrong with them?

Toronto’s hitting has been the biggest problem this season. Guys like Jose Bautista, Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson are not producing like in previous years. These guys are big-name players, and have a combined average of .233. It’s been nothing like other years where these guys have been the top hitters in the AL, and even the MLB.

Bautista walks back the dugout, after striking out (sportsnet.ca)

Troy Tulowitzki is not doing his best, but is still lights out at short stop. Bautista is probably the biggest disappointment for this ball club. He is batting .230 with 97 strikeouts. Not to mention, he had four strikeouts this past Monday against Boston.

The pitching is sub-par. They are fifth in the AL for strikeouts, with a total of 825. Marcus Stroman has been their most dominant pitcher. Stroman is 9-5 with a 3.10 ERA. Other than that, they have no other pitcher that has helped keep a consistent pitching rotation.

The Jays aren’t looking good for this season.

 

 

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Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates playoffs 2017: Can the Pirates be contenders?

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been on a run as of late. They have won 12 of their last 14 games and stand three games back of the Brewers. There has been talk as to whether or not the Pirates will be sellers at the trade deadline. With how they have been playing lately though, they have to look at why they may be able to make a push for the postseason.

Here are some reasons why the Pirates may find their way to October.

Starling Marte is back

Pittsburgh Pirates playoffs 2017

Marte’s return has ignited a spark in Pittsburgh (Yahoo Sports)

The Pirates found out at the beginning of the season that their best player from a year ago would be serving an 80-game suspension. This was a major blow to the team, and it seemed there would be little hope for them to compete with the world champion Cubs. What was needed was for the team to battle through adversity and try to stay afloat until Marte returned.

Pittsburgh has done a pretty good job of staying in the hunt. They have been lucky with how mediocre the division has been, but they are in the thick of things. With Marte back, they should expect to get a lot production from their outfield.

Last season, Marte led the team with a 4.0 WAR and a .311 batting average. He also has plus speed and was able to swipe 47 bases which was third in all of baseball. His presence complimented by McCutchen’s is one of the most dangerous duos in the National League.

Andrew McCutchen has been on fire

Pittsburgh Pirates playoffs 2017

Cutch may be the best hitter in baseball since June 1st (Sports Illustrated)

Over the past couple years, it appeared that Andrew McCutchen had lost his edge. Last year, he had a career-worst slash line of .256/.336/.430.

The Pirates might have been thinking that they missed their opportunity to get a good return on the center fielder. His first couple months of the season were not evident of the All-Star of the past either. In the months of April and May, he posted a batting average that floated around the Mendoza line and was only had a OBP floating around .300.

In June, McCutchen caught fire. He caught enough fire to make him perhaps the best all-around hitter in the league. He finished with a slash line of .411/.505/.689 in the month. He has not slowed down much in July either, with his batting average still around .400 since the start of June.

Cutch has been almost unstoppable, so right now would be the perfect time to trade him, right? Neal Huntington, the Pirates GM, has to consider the future before trading away the best player the Pirates have seen in a long time. When we talk about the near future, we have to talk about how good the Cubs will be in the coming years.

There is a chance that the Cubs may not be as good as we thought. More than likely though, this is a fluke year and the Cubs may return to their 2016 prestige. With that being the case, Pittsburgh may have to take advantage of the year at hand. They have a chance to take a weak division, so it may be in their best interest to hold on to what they have and see if they can make a run for it with their stellar outfield.

The NL Central is wide open

As I mentioned before, the Cubs are struggling in 2017. They have been showing life since the All-Star break though, recording six consecutive wins. However, the Pirates have been able to keep pace with them during this time. With how weak the division has been, it has been very competitive, and there are four teams that are vying for the division crown.

The Brewers are starting to slide as many people expected. Pittsburgh is the one beating up on them, sweeping Milwaukee in a four-game series. This will probably convince Neal Huntington that this roster has enough to take over first place in the division.

Especially with their recent success against NL Central opponents, the Pirates should be feeling good about where they are right now. Look for Pittsburgh to possibly makes some moves to bolster their rotation at the deadline.

Will Pittsburgh win the division?

Pittsburgh Pirates playoffs 2017

Marte came back at the right time, as the Pirates swept the Brewers in four games (Rum Bunter)

Pittsburgh has been able to deal with a lot of adversity this season. Starling Marte was suspended for 80 games, Andrew McCutchen struggled mightily the first two months of the season and James Tallion had to fight cancer.

The Tallion story is rather inspiring, seeing he had to go under the knife to treat his cancer and then still make it back out on the field not long after.

This is perhaps representative of what the Pirates season may be.

Their ace, Gerrit Cole, also seems to be back on track this season. Since June 8, each start has been a quality one besides one blemish on June 30 in which he gave up seven runs.

With their ace back on track and their stellar outfield back to what the Pirates hoped it would be, there is a good chance that they will be competing for first place in the Central until the last day of the regular season.

Pittsburgh has a real chance to ruffle some feathers in the National League. Even the Dodgers, who seem unstoppable right now, should not take a game for granted against the Pirates. Expect Pittsburgh to be a tough competitor for the rest of the season.

Will what they have be enough to win the Central? Well, that largely depends on whether or not the Cubs have found their stride as many expected. It will be tough to keep pace with Chicago if they are back to their 2016 status. The Pirates may just have a shot if they keep doing what their doing though.

 

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It’s on the Haus: Carmelo Anthony, Red Sox release Pablo Sandoval, Bartolo Colon could retire and most popular NFL jerseys

It’s on the Haus is a daily installment of sports news from the past day. Rather than waiting an entire hour to see the big news on a television program or come to multiple stories on multiple websites to get your sports fix, It’s on the Haus gives you the biggest sports happenings all in one place. You may feel guilty for reading this concise article that gives you everything you need to know, but don’t worry, It’s on the Haus. The SEO focus keyphrase for your viewing pleasure: Carmelo Anthony Red Sox release Pablo Sandoval Bartolo Colon retire

Yesterday’s edition: J.D. Martinez trade, Carlos Correa on the shelf, Julian Edelman has one less #hater and Kyrie’s incredibly low 2K rating

Carmelo Anthony just wants to be loved

The struggle is real for Carmelo Anthony. His boisterous contract has disrupted a New York Knicks franchise that already is dealing with turbulence which has caused the $32 million man to be surrounded by trade rumors.

Carmelo Anthony Red Sox release Pablo Sandoval Bartolo Colon retire

No one will take the plunge with Carmelo Anthony, and he is sad. (Photo: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports).

Cleveland confessed its love to Melo, but the love wasn’t enough as no trade was made. The Rockets have also admitted Melo makes their heart go pitter-patter, but there’s still been no deal.

If there’s anything Carmelo Anthony knows better than any of us, it’s that actions speak louder than words. Sure, some franchises say they want Anthony, but no one has followed through yet.

That all could change as yet another party is interested in Anthony’s services. Trail Blazers’ guards Damien Lillard and CJ McCollum are vying for the small forward’s talents, and it’s clear Anthony will not be playing with New York to open the season.

Rumors mean basically nothing this offseason. We heard the Rockets were on the “2-yard line” in a trade for Anthony, but it appears that has fallen through. Just because some Trail Blazers players want Anthony means nothing, because every team wants Anthony.

No one loves Carmelo enough to trade for him, and that’s just a shame. I truly hope Anthony’s psyche won’t take too much of a hit during this time.

Boston Red Sox dump a panda

Pablo Sandoval (better known as Kung Fu Panda) was officially released by the Boston Red Sox yesterday. Sandoval hit .212 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in just 32 games with the Red Sox this season.

Carmelo Anthony Red Sox release Pablo Sandoval Bartolo Colon retire

Boston isn’t the only thing giving up on Sandoval this season (see: his belt). Photo: Jim Davis/The Boston Globe

This is really only news because of how good Sandoval was with San Francisco. He peaked early in his career, with his best season in terms of WAR (6.1) coming in 2011.

Sandoval was good, but then he got fat.

Boston asked him to lose weight upon arrival in 2015, and Sandoval did, for at least a little while. However, all good things must come to an end, and Kung Fu Panda got chubby again.

The Giants plan on signing Sandoval to a minor league contract, so if this really is the last time we see Sandoval in a major league uniform, we might as well remember him at his peak.

Big Bart may call it quits

Carmelo Anthony Red Sox release Pablo Sandoval Bartolo Colon retire

Big Sexy is a walking masterpiece of art (Photo: Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports).

While yesterday’s article focused on #haters, today’s article is apparently all about extra-large MLB players.

Bartolo Colon was released by the Atlanta Braves on July 6, and the Minnesota Twins nabbed him three days later. Colon threw just four innings of mediocre baseball in his debut with the Twins, and now Big Bart is mulling retirement.

Colon is 44 years old and nearing the end of the road in his time in the MLB. It looks like Colon may call it quits before MLB teams can decide his fate for him, so who can get mad at him for that?

I’ve always been a big fan of Big Sexy. He’s brought life to every stadium he’s pitched in an unconventional way. His clumsiness at the plate has been well-documented. Colon has kinda sucked this year, but I sure hope his time in the MLB isn’t over.

I propose Colon do his best to pitch for every single team in the MLB before retirement. He’s already played for 10 teams, and there’s almost enough time to pitch for a different team every fifth day before the season ends. Big Sexy may have bigger (ha, see what I did there) things to worry about, but I hope he’ll at least consider my proposition.

A report on who gets their jersey bought the most

NFLshop.com released this fancy graphic yesterday that displayed each state’s highest-purchased jersey. Marshawn Lynch has dominated sales on the west coast, while apparently the state of Ohio has a secret Greg Olsen fan club that I’m unaware of.

It’s no surprise to see Lynch leading sales in many states thanks to his coming out of retirement. The biggest shock on this list is the fact that the state that I reside in, Ohio, is apparently full of Greg Olsen lovers.

Now, I’ve gushed over Olsen plenty in my life. His durability and charisma is charming. However, I have never once seen a person in my state wearing a Greg Olsen jersey. Now, I don’t get out much, but still.

This is also completely random. My guess for Ohio’s most-purchased jersey would be A.J. Green. If it’s not a Bengal, it certainly not a Brown, so it’d have to be one of the more popular players in the league. From there, my thought process trends towards either Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers.

But Greg Olsen? How many of our fun-loving but heaven help us clueless mothers could name Tom Brady? Probably most if they live in a house that watches sports like mine. However, there’s no way near as many mothers (or people in general) have heard of Greg Olsen.

There has to be a conspiracy here, and I’m using my interns to launch an in-depth investigation. This is my promise to you: We will get to the bottom of this conspiracy that I’m dubbing #OlsenJerseyInOhio-Gate.

 

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more great sports and esports coverage. You should also follow Tim, as he’s gotten over 100 likes on a grand total of three different tweets, and sometimes offers lukewarm takes on things that don’t matter.

It’s on the Haus: J.D. Martinez traded, Carlos Correa injury, Julian Edelman has one less hater and Kyrie’s 2K rating

It’s on the Haus is a daily installment of sports news from the past day. Rather than waiting an entire hour to see the big news on a television program or come to multiple stories on multiple websites to get your sports fix, It’s on the Haus gives you the biggest sports happenings all in one place. You may feel guilty for reading this concise article that gives you everything you need to know, but don’t worry, It’s on the Haus. The SEO focus keyphrase for your viewing pleasure: J.D. Martinez trade Carlos Correa injury Julian Edelman Kyrie Irving

Yesterday’s edition: Zeke was wildin’, players react to Panthers GM firing, NBA Summer League sucks, Jeremy Lin to be drug tested

J.D. Martinez shipped to Arizona

Yesterday evening, the Detroit Tigers traded outfielder J.D. Martinez to the Arizona Diamondbacks for three prospects. The most notable prospect the Tigers picked up is Dawel Lugo, the fourth-best prospect in Arizona’s farm system.

Lugo is a 22-year-old prospect who’s currently playing at the Double-A level. He’s amassed seven dingers and 43 RBIs with a .282 batting average.

Martinez didn’t play his first game of the season until May 12, but he’s produced like the All-Star he is since he’s season debut. In 57 games, he’s hit .305 with 16 home runs and 39 RBIs.

Martinez is the first Tiger to be traded from the Motor City, with more players expected to be given away. This newest Diamondback is #blessed, as he’s now a member of one of the brightest franchises in the MLB, and no longer a member of an upside-down trash truck that crashed into Lake Erie.

Carlos Correa is latest loss the Astros have suffered

J.D. Martinez trade Carlos Correa injury Julian Edelman Kyrie Irving

Carlos Correa will be absent from the best team in the AL for up to two months (Photo: AP).

The Houston Astros placed All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa on the disabled list yesterday due to a torn ligament in his thumb. Correa injured it on a swing in the Astros’ 9-7 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Monday. Correa is expected to be out for 6-8 weeks and will go under the knife, but a surgery date has not been set.

The 2015 AL Rookie of the Year is hitting .320 with 20 home runs and 67 RBIs this season, all good for at least second-best in the MLB among shortstops. Correa also has the second-best offensive WAR in the MLB at 4.74, only trailing his teammate Jose Altuve.

The Astros have clearly had strokes of bad luck in the past couple days. Not only do they lose Correa, but Carlos Beltran’s glove was also laid to rest two days ago. Beltran hasn’t played in the field since May, so Brian McCann and George Springer led a memorial service for the team’s fallen friend.

Beltran is hitting .235 this season with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs and has only played nine games in the field compared to 66 games at designated hitter. With the loss of Correa and Beltran’s glove, Houston may only get 100 wins rather than the 108 wins they’re on pace for.

Godspeed to the entire organization during this tough season.

julian Edelman has one less hater

It’s no secret that Julian Edelman has had to battle various obstacles on his journey to becoming one of the most well-respected wide receivers in the NFL. Coming from a small school in Kent State, playing quarterback in college, being a seventh-round draft pick and moving to full-time wide receiver in the NFL all added up to him being a longshot for success in the NFL.

Apparently his English prof from the College of San Mateo (CA) was one of the many #haters Edelman has had over his career.

I find it quite odd that this prof didn’t believe in Edelman’s dream, yet still had the audacity to call Edelman by his nickname, Jules. I mean, where does this guy get off thinking he can smash the dreams of the NFL’s most squirrely player yet send him a small note to apologize. Mind you, this isn’t even a hand-written note. Again, where does this guy get off?

We all know that Edelman is part of a system offense led by a system quarterback in Tom Brady, and that’s a fact (oh, sarcasm doesn’t translate over text, you say?). But nevertheless, Edelman’s numbers have surpassed even the most optimistic expectations, and for that, Edelman deserves all the kudos in the world, I guess.

Kyrie Irving’s 2K rating is just disrespectful

J.D. Martinez trade Carlos Correa injury Julian Edelman kyrie irving

Kyrie Irving is a baller and everyone expect for 2K knows it (Photo: bleacherreport.com).

The #haters have been having a rough go of it lately. Not only did I beat the haters by getting an Instagram account, but even Julian Edelman’s haters are suffering.

However, we live on a spinning sphere that no one truly understands, and each day we live here, we are hurled toward another great awakening that pushes our spineless world one step closer to forgetting that The Office is the greatest phenomenon to ever happen to us.

Kyrie Irving, NBA 2K18’s cover athlete, was given a 90 overall rating for 2K’s newest edition. Despite our best efforts, the haters are alive and well, folks.

Irving is the freaking cover athlete. Did 2K really think it’s OK to give Irving, the undisputed greatest all-around point guard in the NBA (undisputed by me, at least), a rating that’s only four points better than Devin Booker, or God help me Joel freaking Embiid? That’s super cute, but if Irving were to go one-on-one with Booker, Irving would win 21-2. This is an abomination.

I don’t care if 2K names Gilbert Arenas the cover athlete for next year’s game. Whoever gets the nod should be rated at least a 94. Kyrie deserves at least a 96, and he is well aware of it.

If NBA Live didn’t suck, I wouldn’t be throwing my money at 2K for yet another year for this tomfoolery. Mark my words: 2K will rue the day for this mistake, and there’s no denying that.

 

Feature image: Tom Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more great sports and esports coverage. You should also follow Tim, as he’s gotten over 100 likes on a grand total of three different tweets, and sometimes offers lukewarm takes on things that don’t matter.

Pitch Clock

Pitch Please! Why the MLB pitch clock is inevitable

Baseball has been going through some big changes in recent years. The most notable one in recent memory was the replay review. The game needs to move into the future, so the change was important. Every other major sport has video review, so it was good to see the MLB catch up.

There have been some growing pains that have come with the replay however. The extra time in the game that comes from it is one of them. Game time is one of the biggest issues facing the game today other than substance abuse, which the league has done a good job of fazing out. Major league games are taking longer than ever, and there are a variety of reasons why that is. The best way to combat this problem at the moment, is instituting a pitch clock.

Why are games taking longer?

MLB Pitch Clock

MLB game time has steadily increased over time (SB Nation)

MLB games are longer than ever. Since 1950, the average game time has gone up 48 minutes from 2 hours and 21 minutes to 3 hours and 9 minutes. There are a variety of reasons for this as I mentioned earlier. There aren’t more innings in a game and teams aren’t scoring more runs. What has changed though is the number of pitching changes by each team.

In 1960, the average number of pitchers used in a game by each individual team was 2.45 according to baseball-reference.com. That number has shot up to 4.15 pitchers per team per game in 2016. Teams are using more pitchers in order to get the righty-lefty matchup favorable, and also because pitchers are wearing out their arms more easily. Having a specific pitcher for the 8th and 9th inning is also relatively new, so this is contributing to extra time.

The extra commercial breaks also come with the territory. With how commercialized sports are these days it is not hard for advertisers to make their mark in the game.

The biggest hindrance in the game though is the constant fidgeting by players. This contributes to more dead time in baseball than ever. In an article by nydailynews.com, Rob Manfred and Joe Torre talked about the dead time in baseball and how the MLB will approach it. They believe that it is not the game time that needs to be addressed but rather the fidgeting that goes on between the batter and pitcher almost every at bat. Batters didn’t always re-adjust their gloves or step out of the batters box after every pitch.

Why MLB Needs to Address the Problem

According to Nielsen’s Year in sports media report, 50 percent of baseball viewers are 55 or older. The MLB needs to address this issue in order to have a promising future. Baseball will never have the same celebrity status in the mainstream as football or basketball, but the MLB can still compete for top dog between these leagues.

What scares me about the typical age of baseball viewers is what it will look like 30 years from now. The MLB needs to address this issue before it catches up to them. Many kids love playing baseball and following the sport and the big name players. The problem is having people being able to sit down and watch a game on television. We are in a time where people do not have the same attention span as they used to, so it is hard to have someone sit down and watch a three-hour baseball game, especially with all the dead time there is in between plays.

According to a study done by The Wall Street Journal, there are only 18 minutes of actual game play during a game. This stat probably won’t change with a pitch clock. It would not be bad if the game was 30 minutes shorter like it used to be though.

The length of baseball games does not personally bother me. I don’t mind sitting down and enjoying baseball and listening to fantastic stories the broadcasters have to tell. If the length is not addressed, baseball may lose popularity. If that happens, we might have fewer talents go out for the game and the quality of play might ultimately suffer. This wouldn’t be in the near future perhaps, but it is a possibility down the road in my eyes. Rob Manfred and Joe Torre seem to have a similar view of the situation as well.

What the league has done already

MLB Pitch Clock

The pitch clock is already being used in A ball (Grantland)

The MLB has already made some changes in order to address the issue. One is that batters have to keep one foot in the box in between pitches, another is the 30-second clock in between hitters.

Baseball also started using a 20-second pitch clock in the minor leagues already. There has not been a whole lot of news on how that has been going thus far, but it will factor into Manfred’s decision to implement it on the big league level.

Some players have said that they haven’t noticed the changes on the big league level too much. Alex Avila of the Tigers stated that he does not even think about the pace of play during the game, so the changes have not made a big impact of the quality of the game yet. However, that does not mean baseball has to proceed with caution when implementing pace of play rules.

Current popularity of the pitch clock

According to a study done by ESPN the Magazine in 2015, 60 percent of surveyed fans were not in favor of the pitch clock. As expected, the players aren’t especially fans either. 

MLB Pitch Clock

Adam Wainwright thinks a pitch clock could damage the quality of play (St. Louis Post Dispatch)

Adam Wainwright spoke to The Guardian in 2015 of what he thinks of the idea.

“You have to be of sound mind, you have to step off and slow things down occasionally. Sometimes you have to move quickly, but as a pitcher you have to have the ability to slow the game down at those big moments – that’s just so key in the postseason. If you’re a young pitcher and you’re worrying about the pitch clock, you’re not worried about getting the hitter out.”

Many baseball purists weren’t fans of the replay system being introduced either. There was a lot of talk of the game being tainted because the human element was taken out of the game.

Thus far, replay has been a success though. It is true that it slows down the game a bit but at least they are getting the call right. Fans also didn’t stop watching because of the replay system, now it is accepted as part of the game.

What makes the pitch clock different though is that it can change what happens in the game drastically. As Wainwright stated, speed matters when delivering.

Many fans are afraid that the game will be fundamentally hurt if a clock is instituted. That is exactly what Manfred and Torre are trying to avoid.

Baseball players may have some trouble adjusting to a pitch clock. However, the game is ultimately a business and needs to do what is best for its future. There are going to be plenty of people that are opposed to such a change in baseball as well, but eventually it will become as much as a part of the game as anything else.

 

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MLB second half performances

Best MLB second half performances of 2016

With the second half of the 2017 MLB season in course, it’s time to assess the best MLB second half performances of 2016. The players are organized in groups according to whether they were an All-Star, veteran, breakout performer or rookie.

All-Stars 

Jon Lester, Starting Pitcher, Chicago Cubs

2016 First Half Stats 18 GS 9-4 W-L 3.01 ERA 1.08 WHIP 8.8 K/9 110.2 IP
2016 Second Half Stats 14 GS 10-1 W-L 1.76 ERA 0.94 WHIP 8.7 K/9 92 IP
Best MLB second half performances 2016

Jon Lester finished second in the NL Cy Young vote after a miraculous second half. (Photo by dailyherald.com)

In his 11th major league season, Lester ended the year with 19 wins and a 2.44 ERA. He finished second in the National League Cy Young vote and was a key part of the Chicago Cubs’ championship run.

In his 14 second half starts, Lester was nearly unhittable. He had a record of 10-1 with a 1.76 ERA and .189 batting average against, or BAA.

His home run to fly ball rate, or HR/FB, dropped from 16.2 percent in the first half to 6.8 percent in the second. This, along with the fact that his left on base percentage, or LOB%, rose from 83.7 percent to 86.4 percent, made him arguably the most successful pitcher in the second half of the 2016 MLB season.

 

 

 

 

 

Miguel Cabrera, First Baseman, Detroit Tigers

2016 First Half Stats 86 GS 18 HR 53 RBI 49 R .293/.370/.507 BA/OBP/SLG
2016 Second Half Stats 70 GS 20 HR 55 RBI 43 R .346/.423/.653 BA/OBP/SLG

The future first ballot Hall of Famer had an incredible second half. Cabrera batted .346 with 20 home runs, 55 RBIs and 43 runs scored in 70 games.

The largest analytical differences between Cabrera’s first and second halves included his batting average on balls in play, or BABIP, rose from .314 to .366, as well as his weighted on-base average, or wOBA, rose from .368 to .438.

The 33-year-old’s second half of 2016 is a prime example of why he is one of the greatest hitters of this generation.

Veterans

Justin Verlander, Starting Pitcher, Detroit Tigers

2016 First Half Stats 18 GS 8-6 W-L 4.07 ERA 1.13 WHIP 9.2 K/9 117.1 IP
2016 Second Half Stats 16 GS 8-3 W-L 1.96 ERA 0.86 WHIP 10.9 K/9 110.1 IP
Best MLB second half performances 2016

Justin Verlander’s 2016 campaign was a success due to his incredible second half. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Verlander managed to finish 2016 as the American League Cy Young runner-up even after failing to make the AL All-Star team. How is this possible you ask? Well, it may have something to do with his poor 4.07 ERA in the first half.

His astonishing second half resulted in a 1.96 ERA, .180 BAA and 134 strikeouts in 110.1 innings. The 33-year-old’s success could be attributed to his ability to limit walks and strand runners on base. His strikeout to walk ratio, or K/BB, was an incredible 5.58, while his LOB% was an astronomical 90.6 percent.

Many people argue that Verlander was snubbed of the 2016 AL Cy Young award, and for good reason, as his mind-blowing second half lead to a 16-9 record, 3.04 ERA, .204 BAA and a league leading 1.00 WHIP and 254 strikeouts.

 

 

 

 

Joey Votto, First Baseman, Cincinnati Reds

2016 First Half Stats 84 GS 14 HR 42 RBI 48 R .252/.386/.446 BA/OBP/SLG
2016 Second Half Stats 71 GS 15 HR 55 RBI 53 R .408/.490/.668 BA/OBP/SLG

Votto managed to continue the lore of being one of the greatest second half hitters of all time, as he slashes .327/.440/.569 on his career after the All-Star break.

His 2016 campaign resulted in a .326 average, 29 home runs and 97 RBIs. In the second half alone, Votto managed to bat .408 with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs in 72 games. The major changes in his analytics included his strikeout rate, which decreased from 24.2 percent to 10.2 percent, his BABIP, which rose from .308 to .418 and his wOBA, which rose from .357 to .478.

Votto’s 2016 second half will go down as one of the most dominant in baseball history.

Yadier Molina, Catcher, St. Louis Cardinals

2016 First Half Stats 78 GS 2 HR 28 RBI 30 R .259/.329/.341 BA/OBP/SLG
2016 Second Half Stats 65 GS 6 HR 30 RBI 26 R .365/.398/.529 BA/OBP/SLG
Best MLB second half performances 2016

Yadier Molina batted .365 in the second half of his MVP caliber 2016 campaign. (Photo by Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

One of the greatest catchers of his era, Molina has been a National League MVP candidate on five separate occasions, while also winning eight Gold Gloves and one Silver Slugger award. His 2016 second half helped him re-enter the MVP conversation for the first time since 2013, where he finished third in the NL MVP vote.

His first half in 2016 was quite abysmal, as the 33-year-old batted only .259, which was well below his career batting average of .284. Although in the second half, Molina batted a phenomenal .365.

The major analytical difference between Molina first and second half was his BABIP, as it rose from .291 in the first half to .388 in the second.

Molina has always been a more productive player after the break, but he had never taken his production to levels like this.

 

 

 

Breakout performers

Kyle Hendricks, Starting Pitcher, Chicago Cubs

2016 First Half Stats 16 GS 7-6 W-L 2.55 ERA 1.03 WHIP 7.8 K/9 98.2 IP
2016 Second Half Stats 14 GS 9-2 W-L 1.68 ERA 0.92 WHIP 8.3 K/9 91.1 IP

Hendricks finished third in the NL Cy Young vote and 23rd in the NL MVP vote in 2016. The 26-year-old led the league in ERA and ERA+, which exemplifies his utter dominance over the entirety of the season. Although he was great all year, his overall success was majorly due to his impeccable second half.

Hendricks managed to finish the second half with a 9-2 record, 1.68 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. One major analytical difference between halves was his ability to strand runners on base, as his LOB% rose from 74.1 percent in the first half to 90.7 percent in the second.

The interesting thing with the rest of Hendricks’ splits include that his BABIP and hard contact rates both rose from the first half to the second, which would suggest he got luckier in the first half, even though he was more successful in the second.

D.J. LeMahieu, Second Baseman, Colorado Rockies

2016 First Half Stats 78 GS 5 HR 32 RBI 53 R 7 SB .334/.398/.490 BA/OBP/SLG
2016 Second Half Stats 66 GS 6 HR 34 RBI 53 R 4 SB .363/.437/.500 BA/OBP/SLG
Best MLB second half performances 2016

D.J. LeMahieu had a fantastic year in 2016, although he was that much more special in the second half. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com)

After being snubbed in the NL All-Star vote, LeMahieu had an exorbitant second half that landed him 15th in the NL MVP vote.

His BABIP rose from .379 in the first half to an even better .397 in the second, which kept his batting average well above .300. LeMahieu finished the year with a league leading .348 batting average, although it was his .363 batting average in the second half that blew fans away.

The 27-year-old had almost identical contact rates from one half to the other, although the direction of the contact had changed drastically. His pull percentage decreased from 24 percent to 19 percent, while his opposite field percentage rose from 35 percent to 41 percent. LeMahieu was able to spray the ball across the diamond while sustaining contact rates, which makes his 2016 second half even more impressive.

 

 

Rookies

Trea Turner, Second Baseman/Outfielder, Washington Nationals

2016 First Half Stats 3 GS 0 HR 0 RBI 0 R 0 SB .429/.500/.571 BA/OBP/SLG
2016 Second Half Stats 67 GS 13 HR 40 RBI 53 R 33 SB .340/.367/.567 BA/OBP/SLG

The 13th overall pick in 2014 exploded onto the scene in the second half of last season. Turner batted .340 with 13 home runs, 53 runs, 40 RBIs and 33 stolen bases in 67 starts, which resulted in a runner-up finish for the NL Rookie of the Year (Corey Seager).

His second-half success can be attributed to his .387 BABIP, which positively impacted Turner as 44 percent of his batted balls went for ground balls. His contact rates were also great, as he made over 80 percent medium and hard contact on all balls batted in play.

Turner showed glimpses of what could be an elite fantasy asset, as he displayed contact, power, production, speed and consistency atop the Washington Nationals’ star-studded lineup.

Jose Peraza, Shortstop/Second Baseman/Outfielder, Cincinnati Reds

2016 First Half Stats 15 GS 0 HR 4 RBI 6 R 9 SB .246/.278/.246 BA/OBP/SLG
2016 Second Half Stats 41 GS 3 HR 21 RBI 19 R 12 SB .355/.380/.477 BA/OBP/SLG
Best MLB second half performances 2016

Jose Peraza exploded onto the scene during the second half of 2016. (Photo by WKRC)

Peraza was called up in May of 2016 for his first extended stint in the majors, as he made his major league debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015.

After struggling in his first 15 games last season, he finished the year with a .324 batting average, 25 runs scored, 25 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 56 starts.

The 22-year-old put together an amazing second half, where he batted .355 with 19 runs scored, 21 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 41 starts.

Peraza’s second-half success can be attributed to multiple things, including his .389 BABIP, his ability to make 83 percent medium or hard contact and his ability to spray the ball over 29 percent of the time to each field.

His ability to make solid contact and spray to all fields helped propel him to having one of MLB’s best second halves in 2016.

 

 

 

Featured image by ESPN.com

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