Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Taking stock at MLB's halfway point of the season

The Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen can’t do it all on his own. Pittsburgh’s offense needs help.

Getty Images

The Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen can’t do it all on his own. Pittsburgh’s offense needs help.

Who is baseball's biggest surprise and will they hold on?

In 1979, the Pirates and Orioles met in the World Series. If the playoffs started today, both would make the postseason. The Pirates haven't had a winning season since 1992 — Barry Bonds' last season in the 'Burgh. The Buccos sit in first place in the NL Central. The Orioles, barely clinging to the second wild-card spot in the AL, haven't been to the playoffs since 1997.

Answer: The O's have been a nice story, but they're showing signs of fading. Last season on July 19 the Pirates were seven games over .500 and in first place. Then the bottom dropped out and the Bucs ended up losing 90 games. They're much better this season, but if they don't give Andrew McCutchen (the NL MVP so far) some help, the Pirates might not have enough offense to win the division. They need to make a deal.

Who is the biggest disappointment and will they turn it around?

The Rays certainly are scuffling, partly because of injuries, and haven't resembled the team many picked to get to the World Series. But at least they have a winning record. The Phillies have had some injuries (Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay), but that's not a good enough excuse for being a whopping 14 games out of first place.

Answer: The Rays, Red Sox and Marlins should be better. But at last year's All-Star break, the Phils were 23 games over .500. Now they're 13 under. They are, by far, baseball's most disappointing team and are so far out of it that they're talking about being sellers at the trade deadline.

Who is baseball's most disappointing player and why?

From 2008 to '10, Tim Lincecum of the Giants went 49-22 and won two Cy Youngs. Since the start of last season he is 16-24, including 3-10 with a 6.42 ERA this season. His 10 losses and 69 earned runs allowed are the most in the National League.

Answer: No one has the first clue to what's wrong. Lincecum appears healthy, but he has suffered a drop in velocity. What's stunning is the Giants are only a half-game out of first place.

Who's better, Bryce Harper or Mike Trout?

So far, the best debate of the season is who is better: the Nationals' 19-year-old rookie Bryce Harper (.282 with eight homers, 25 RBIs, 10 stolen bases) or Angels' 20-year-old rookie Mike Trout (.341 with 12 homers, 40 RBIs, 26 steals and, perhaps, the catch of the year in the outfield). The good news is we might have 20 years to figure out the answer.

Answer: In five years, I think Harper will be the best player in baseball. But right now, you have to take Trout. He might be the American League MVP.

Who is baseball's best team and who will win it all?

Based simply on record, the Yankees are at the top with a 52-33 record. While the Yankees have had injuries to their pitching staff (starters CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, and closer Mariano Rivera), their lethal lineup has remained, for the most part, healthy. You wonder if A-Rod and Derek Jeter can stay healthy in the second half.

Answer: How cool would it be to see the up-and-coming (some might say "here-and-now'') Nationals win the whole shebang. But we're going with a Rangers team that is first in the AL in batting average, first in runs and third in team ERA. Plus, after losing the past two World Series, the third time is a charm, right?

tom jones' two cents

With the All-Star Game tonight in Kansas City, Mo., Major League Baseball has reached the recognized halfway point of the season. Here are some questions that have come out of the first half, along with some answers for the second half.

Taking stock at MLB's halfway point of the season 07/09/12 [Last modified: Monday, July 9, 2012 11:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Clearwater enjoys view from the top

    Footballpreps

    CLEARWATER — The offense still has a familiar feel. Short passes become big gains. Linemen drive their opponents in reverse, forcefully and repeatedly. Runs along the sideline continue to leave defenders breathlessly behind.

    The outcomes are similar, too.

    Clearwater’s Brandon Gary, from left, Jacob Day, Damon Dennis and Jarius Williams celebrate a turnover recovery deep in Countryside High territory during the second quarter of Monday’s game at Countryside. Clearwater won 35-14.
  2. Rick and Tom podcast: Lots of questions for college football teams in Florida

    College

    In just three weeks, the state of college football in Florida went from high expectations to lots of questions at USF with slow starts, Florida with no offense and Florida State losing quarterback Deondre …

    Despite slow starts, quarterback Quinton Flowers and USF take a 3-0 record into tonight's game against Temple. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  3. Young girl injured by 105 mph foul at Yankee Stadium renews call for more netting

    Ml

    NEW YORK — A young girl at Yankee Stadium was injured by a 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier during Wednesday's game against Minnesota, leading some players to call for protective netting to be extended.

    Baseball fans reacts as a young girl is tended to before she is carried out of the seating area after being hit by a line drive in the fifth inning of a baseball game between the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, at Yankee Stadium in New York. [Associated Press]
  4. Morning after: Takeaways from Lightning exhibition

    Blogs

    For the Lightning, there was a lot to like in Wednesday's 4-3 exhibition win in Carolina.

    The Lightning's Erik Cernak, left, congratulates Adam Erne (73) following Erne's goal against the Carolina Hurricanes.
  5. Cesar Puello slides home to score off of a bunt single by Peter Bourjos during the second inning.