We are at the halfway point for the Major League Baseball season.
Baseballs are flying out of the yard at an unprecedented rate this season, but MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says the balls are not juiced.
MLB is on pace for 6,668 home runs; the MLB record is 6,105 in 2007 that’s about 500 plus more home runs. Fourteen teams are on pace to set a franchise HR record. Four teams (Minnesota Twins, Milwaukee Brewers, Seattle Mariners, and New York Yankees) are on pace to set the MLB HR record which the Yankees set last season.
At the All-Star break, all of sudden the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Soxs and Washington Nationals are playing well. They have been subplots to what the first half of the MLB season has been. It has been all about the Los Angeles Dodgers or the New York Yankees, the two best teams in baseball who are my prediction for the World Series.
The Yankees offseason was impressive, and it has been proven. They did not go out and sign Bryce Harper, Manny Machado or Patrick Corbin whom all the Yankee fans wanted them to sign. Instead, Brian Cashman and his team signed depth. It is the depth of that roster that has allowed them to get passed 23 players on the injured list this year.
Speaking of depth, the Dodgers have been the best team in baseball up to this point. They have rotation depth; lineup depth and they had three rookies in one weekend hit walk-off home runs in consecutive games. Moreover, they have even more in the minor leagues. They are short a relief pitcher or two, but they can go out and get that.
Don’t sleep on the Houston Astros, that lineup is devastating with a +91 run differential (third in the American league). Astros have Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole at the top of their rotation. Throw those two atop any series you have a chance. They have middle relief, they have a closer, and they continue to get contributions from the minor leagues.
However, I am here for the chips and the dip, the Miami Marlins.
The Marlins closed out the first half with a 4-3 loss against the Atlanta Braves when a late rally fell just short. The Braves are 10-2 against the Marlins this season and 24-7 the past two seasons.
The Marlins pause the first half of the season with a 33-55 record. They have a less than a one percent chance of making the postseason.
The keyword is rebuilding.
The timetable for success remains up in the air; however, potential has been shown in the process. Especially with the pitching staff, Miami starters have a combined 4.28 ERA, seventh best in the National League and ahead of respected ball clubs like the Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers.
Marlins begin the second half with a three-game series hosting the New York Mets.
Sandy Alcantara who has a cannon for a right arm, represented the fish in the All-Star Game, throwing a scoreless inning on ten pitches. His second-half debut is not expected until Sunday, as the Marlins will send left-hander Caleb Smith (4-4, 3.50 ERA) to the mound Friday. Smith is 1-0 with a 3.24 ERA in three career starts against the Mets.
“The guys have shown they’re not going to quit playing,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Even the last day before the break, when people are trying to get out, guys kept playing. I’m really proud of the effort.”
The team is a work in progress; however, the effort is evident. The clubhouse embraces the growth that comes from losing; however, does not take it lightly. It is evident from the positive attitude in contrast to what the Mets have experience from the front office down to the players, which can lead to extreme dysfunction.
The Marlins will only contribute to a small portion of the MLB’s pace for home runs, but their goal is to win now. It is the only way to open the eyes of fans to the progress of rebuilding.