The first batch of all-star voting was revealed a few days ago and it seems appropriate that another check-in was due. As always with baseball, a lot of things can change in the blink of an eye. Injuries and/or a tough run of games can sink teams while being able to stay healthy and a lighter schedule can reap huge benefits. We’re a little less than a month away from the all-star break so let’s jump into things.
#1 Mid Season Change
MLB laid down some rules about a week ago mandating that absolutely no foreign substances were to be used by pitchers. While most players are in favor of this rule, especially the hitters, to make this change in the middle of the season is a bit baffling. Rarely does changing your rules in the middle of a season ever look good. For baseball, it seems to showcase just how unorganized they have been the last few years. Add to the fact that any player caught will be suspended raises a few eyebrows as well. Carlos Rodon of the White Sox summed up what most players were feeling with this quote “You’re giving out 10-game suspensions for cheating but… you cant suspend the team that you actually knew was cheating during a playoff game?”
#2 Like Father, Like Son
Vladimir Guerrero is a Hall of Famer who made a living terrorizing opposing pitchers. Known for a smooth yet powerful swing, all without wearing batting gloves, Vladimir would smoke balls with authority. Now his son Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is doing the same as he currently leads the league in home runs with 22. Oh, and he’s currently leading in all three triple crown categories (Home runs, RBIs, and batting average). Leading in all three means he’s also the odds on favorite to win the AL MVP this season. Without him, the Blue Jays wouldn’t have a prayer of making the playoffs. If Vlady Jr. can keep this level of production up we might be in for a historic individual season.
#3 Chi-town fun
It must be a grand time to be a Chicago baseball fan. Doesn’t matter which team you support as both of them are currently in first place in their respective divisions. The Cubs are flying high after a rough start to the season going 27-14 in their last month and a half of baseball. The highlight of their rise was sweeping bitter rival Cardinals at Wrigley over the weekend. As of right now, the Cubs are neck and neck with the Brewers with the Cardinals trailing behind.
The White Sox are in a slightly different situation than the Cubs as they didn’t start off the season slow. Rather they have been consistently picked up wins and are arguably in the league’s easiest division. So far Cleveland is the only team within shouting distance and they might be sellers later this season. Key injuries to this team may hinder their process in the playoffs, but barring divine intervention this team will win this division.
#4 Surprise, Surprise
As things currently stand, there are three divisions that have surprise leaders. No one, outside of those team’s fanbases, would have them winning the division. Yet here they are on top with the all-star break quickly approaching. The three divisions in question are the AL West (led by the A’s), AL East (led by the Rays), and the NL West (led by the Giants). Now, none of these teams have a large lead, the biggest one is 2.5, but it is refreshing to see underdogs rise to the top. Whether or not any of them end the season on top remains to be seen, but it will be fun to watch these teams as the season progresses.
5. Road woes out west
The Arizona Diamondbacks have lost a mind-boggling 21 straight games on the road. That is almost a month of baseball in which they haven’t won a game on the road. The 21st loss might’ve been the hardest to swallow. The Diamondbacks raced out to a 7-0 lead in just the second inning. However, the Giants slowly, but surely whittled down the lead until the 8th inning. In the 8th inning, Yastrzemski hit a game-changing grand slam to give the Giants the lead. The Giants would obviously go on to win that game. But it is a bit of a concern for Arizona that they can’t seem to win a game on the road. I know that this team isn’t particularly good and they didn’t have any grand expectations for this season. That, however, doesn’t excuse them for losing 21 straight on the road.