The All-Star break is a good time to step back and assess where the 30 teams across Major League Baseball stand. Some teams comfortably occupy first place, some are facing a second half of playing out a string of meaningless games, and then there is the group caught in the middle.
In the past, second half runs have been a big part of baseball. Teams that hadn’t really made an impression by mid-July can catch fire and change the scope of the division and playoff picture in a hurry in the second half. After all, there’s a long way to go, and there’s no guarantee that the first place teams now will win the division.
Here are eight teams that had decent first halves, but have the capability to make some real noise in the second half of the MLB season.
8. Arizona Diamondbacks
There’s a lot to like about the Diamondbacks, which rank in the top six in the NL in both OPS and ERA. In other words, they’re a well-balanced team that can both hit and pitch rather effectively. Despite their 46-45 record, they’ve scored 64 more runs than they’ve allowed, indicating a team that should be performing significantly better. They have two good power hitters in Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar, an ace in Zack Grienke, and solid pieces in the bullpen. Don’t be surprised to see them play to a higher level after the All-Star break.
7. St. Louis Cardinals
The question for the Cardinals is whether they can hit enough. Their bullpen has been good, and starting pitchers like Miles Mikolas and Jack Flaherty have room to grow. On offense, though, Matt Carpenter is hitting just .216 while Paul Goldschmidt is at .254. St. Louis would have expected more from both of them. If just a few Cardinals hitters could perform a bit more like they have in the past, they could go on a real run.
6. Milwaukee Brewers
The reigning NL Central champions won 96 games last season but are hovering just around .500 in 2019. That’s happening despite Christian Yelich having another MVP-caliber season. His teammates just haven’t picked him up, with only two other Brewer regulars hitting over .260. Pitching must improve too, but with Yelich in the lineup, this team always has a chance to take off. They need just a few more guys to get on base around him.
5. Oakland Athletics
Oakland won nine of 12 going into the All-Star break, which could be a sign of things to come in the second half. They can pitch, and their bullpen has the potential to reach an elite level if closer Blake Treinen can recapture some of the magic that made him one of the sport’s most dominant pitchers a year ago.