Sports · July 1, 2022

Going around the bases as baseball approaches its midpoint

The All-Star break was typically used to split baseball’s first and second halves. While this has always been misleading – teams often play around 90 games in the first half, leaving only 72 in the second half – it’s even more extreme this season as the All-Star Game won’t be held until July 19, the last. has been played over a full season since 1977.

As teams are expected to reach their midpoint of 81 games early next week, it’s a good time to check out the majors for more intriguing storylines from a season that seemed at risk of not being played only in the game. beginning of March.

A look at this season’s ERA leaders shows a bright future for the game. Shane McClanahan, 25, a second-year starter for the Tampa Bay Rays, led all starters with an ERA of 1.77 through Thursday. Sandy Alcantara of the Miami Marlins finished second at 1.95 – he’s only 26 years old. Seven of the top 10 were under the age of 30, the youngest of whom, Alek Manoah of the Toronto Blue Jays, is a serious contender for the American League Cy Young Award at 24.

And then there’s Justin Verlander. After a two-season stint in which he pitched a total of six innings due to injuries, 39-year-old Houston Astros ace Verlander was third in the majors with an ERA of 2.03 and was first. pitcher this season to reach 10 wins. Perhaps most impressive is that the second oldest active player in the majors was fourth in pitched innings. It would come as a surprise to most senior pitchers after a long absence, but somehow it makes perfect sense for Verlander, a throwback starter who has topped 200 innings 12 times.

Aaron Judge continues to score home runs. Judge, the giant Yankees slacker, has bet huge on himself this off-season, turning down a $ 213.5 million contract extension, and has gone on to have what feels like a career season. As of Thursday, he scored .286 with 29 home runs and batted 59 points as he led his team to the best record in the majors. Catastrophe aside, it seems the judge’s gamble will pay off.

The question is how much better things could get from here. Until Thursday, he kept up with Babe Ruth’s 1927 season (29 home runs in his first 75 games) and was just off the pace of Roger Maris’ 1961 season (30 out of 75). Whether you choose to see Maris as the rightful one-season record holder or less – everyone with more than her 61 homers in a season has been linked to performance-enhancing drugs – the fact that Judge has a chance to break the Yankees mark franchise is reason enough to get excited.

The Albert Pujols Farewell Tour is wreaking havoc on record books and inspiring quite a few smiles, even as the aging slugger only hit .198 until Thursday.

Pujols had chipped in 23 wins, overtaking Eddie Collins and Paul Molitor to climb to ninth on the career list. He had added 39 total bases, overtaking Willie Mays for third place. And with 40 games played, he had overtaken, in succession, Dave Winfield, Barry Bonds, Cal Ripken Jr. and Mays to move up to eighth place. If he were to add another 40 games in the second half of the season, he would also overtake Stan Musial, Eddie Murray and Ty Cobb, finishing fifth on that career list.

Unfortunately, Pujols’ goal of being the fourth player with 700 home runs looks like it will remain out of reach. He’s 17 and doesn’t have the playtime, or the consistency, to be realistic.

The most precious respite in baseball is not its closest team, at least not officially. As of Thursday, Clay Holmes, a rising star for the Yankees, had struck an ERA of 0.49 in 36th innings, with 38 strikeouts, and led all major league rescues with 2.0 wins over the substitution. Despite that, he may soon lose his interim salary by finishing matches because Aroldis Chapman, a fiery southpaw whose salary is 16 times higher than Holmes’, was activated from the injury list on Friday.

With Chapman, 34, eligible for agency this off-season, and Holmes, 29, just entering his arbitration years, the Yankees appear to have a succession plan in place – which worked well when Mariano Rivera arrived in the John’s Waning Days Betting Country But the next few months could be awkward if Holmes continues to beat Chapman, but does so during the eighth inning.

Paul Goldschmidt of the St. Louis Cardinals and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels both had 4.2 wins over the substitution until Thursday, while Manny Machado of the San Diego Padres and Shohei Ohtani of the Angels each had 3.9. Those superstars were all watching Tommy Edman, a central intern of the Cardinals, who somehow inexplicably was leading all the position players with 4.5 WAR, according to Baseball Reference.

Edman’s stat line doesn’t pop up. He was hitting .271 with a .341 base rate and a .401 hit rate. He was 19 out of 22 in stolen base attempts, had scored seven home runs and was leading his championship in just one standard category: points scored, with 58.

But WAR includes defense, and Edman put on the show, leading the majors with 2.1 WAR defensive thanks to 11 pretty incredible defensive runs saved in 43 starts at second base and another 5 of 30 shortstop starts.

Athletics have built and demolished teams for generations. Going back to 1901, they have won 100 or more games 10 times, scoring nine World Series titles, but have lost 100 or more games 16 times.

This year’s club looks set to win 17 seasons of 100 losses, and while unsurprising considering their off-season sellout, the way they are doing it is remarkable. As of Thursday, they were 8-28 at home, setting them on pace to lose 63 games at the Oakland Coliseum, which would have broken the record of 59 home losses shared by the 1939 St. Louis Browns and 2019 Detroit Tigers. modest 1962 Mets lost only 58 at home.

Mitigating the blow – or potentially causing it – is the fact that not many people have been there to see those losses. The As are last in the majors with an average attendance of 8,358 fans per game. This would be the lowest average in the majors since 2001 and is nearly 1,000 less per game than Oakland’s AAA-class team, the Las Vegas Aviators, which drew in 2019.

The Yankees have been the best baseball team this season, both by records and by running difference, and for much of the year they were overtaken by the Mets, who had gone on as the best team in the National League despite the injuries to pitchers Max Scherzer and Jacob de Grom.

A recent downturn in attack, however, made the Mets vanish. They have already been surpassed by the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best NL record and the Atlanta Braves are looking to sneak in and steal the NL East title once again.