The first half of the 2013 baseball season is in the books. There were surprising winners, such as the Royals, Diamondbacks, Pirates, a lack of hitting league-wide again, and some surprises such as the high payroll Dodgers plus the Angels stumbling.
With the surprises out of the way, here’s a look at some teams that might be active at the trading deadline and primed to make a second half surge.
Indians: First-year manager Terry Francona is getting the most out of the young Tribe. The offense has been great, ninth in baseball in runs scored and 13th in on-base percentage behind 1B Mark Reynolds and catcher Carlos Santana. Now, about that pitching. Zach McAllister and submariner Justin Masterson have been fine.
Note: They could use some starting depth or the wear and tear on the pen may take a toll down the stretch. Would you deal a big bat for an arm or two?
Tigers: Detroit certainly looks like a team that will have a big second half, with the best run differential in the AL. This pitching staff has been dynamite, seventh in team ERA. They have a trio of strikeout aces in Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez, plus Doug Fister is a control specialist who doesn’t walk anyone and eats innings. The offense is equally good with speed atop the order in centerfielder Austin Jackson and plenty of punch to drive him in with Miguel Cabrera, Torri Hunter and Prince Fielder.
Note: This lineup is even better than last summer, top five in runs, batting average, OBP and slugging. Many teams might be thinking about shopping but the Tigers will be focused on staying healthy for October.
Giants: Most impressive is the balanced offense, which is top 15 in runs scored and batting average. Four reasons to believe the Giants won’t go away, though: Lincecum, Cain, Zito and Bumgarner. That dynamic foursome keeps away losing skids.
Note: Oddly, ace Matt Cain is the one who has struggled, so if they get him to turn around the Giants should roll to another division title.
Angels: Everything went wrong for Mike Scioscia’s team in the first half, with their big bats (Pujols, Hamilton) more like pop guns. The biggest problem, though, was the injury to ace pitcher Jered Weaver early, which threw the staff out of whack and forced Scioscia to juggle arms on a taxed bullpen. But there’s no ignoring the talent, speed and power on this lineup, one that could get hot as the summer heats up.
Note: Halos could be in the market for a quality starter alongside Weaver, but no one has made more errors in baseball. A serious problem.
Rockies: Colorado has been torching opposing pitching staffs with a powerhouse offense that is top five in runs, batting average, slugging and on-base percentage. The pitching has a solid pair of arms in 25-year-old Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa. But the rest of the staff has been mostly awful, so they will be in the market for some arms for the starting rotation and bullpen if they want to make a second half surge.
Note: Don’t forget Chacin has a losing record in each of the last two years (11-14, 3-5) while De La Rosa only pitched 10 innings last season.
Rays: A team no one wants to face down the stretch. This young rotation of David Price, Wade Davis, Alex Cobb and Jeremy Hellickson is impressive, though Price hasn’t been healthy and Hellickson hasn’t been sharp. The only weak spot would be closer Fernando Rodney, who has been shaky.
Note: They can attack opponents in a variety of ways. Would you like to face that staff in October? If they can get there.
Jim Feist, author and leader in sports information for over 40 years, hosts TV’s Proline as well as running National Sports Services since 1975. Follow him on twitter: @JimFeistSports . Reach him at [email protected]