The Major League Baseball season is in its stretch run midway through September. It's the time of year when records are being chased and awards positioning is solidified.
This season particularly is compelling with Aaron Judge chasing Roger Maris' home run record, Shohei Ohtani continuing to do things we've never seen and Justin Verlander's stunning comeback from Tommy John surgery at age 39.
All three of those stars are up for either MVP or Cy Young. Let's make some predictions for this stretch run of the season.
Luis Arráez, Jeff McNeil win batting titles
Both players were top-two in batting average for their respective leagues as of Wednesday. Luis Arráez was atop the American League with a .319, while Jeff McNeil's .323 average trailed only Freddie Freeman.
Arráez and McNeil are both having their best seasons since 2019, when Arráez was a rookie and McNeil was named to his first All-Star team.
They are competing against more accomplished players.
Arráez has Xander Bogaerts, Aaron Judge and José Abreu on his heels. McNeil is chasing Freeman, and Paul Goldschmidt is right behind them.
But these two should get their opportunities to take home a batting title down the stretch. The Minnesota Twins and New York Mets have two of the five easiest remaining schedules, according to Tankathon.
Albert Pujols hits 700th career home run
Albert Pujols is having one of the best swan songs in baseball history. He moved to fourth on the all-time home run list with his 697th career homer Sunday.
It was his third of the month and 11th since Aug. 10. Before then, Pujols had not hit more than three homers in any month this season. He's clearly on a roll now.
The St. Louis Cardinals also have eight games against the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers (including Wednesday) left, and both teams are prone to giving up the long ball.
Pujols won't get higher than fourth on the list, but this sets up perfectly for him to continue to be on pace for 700.