2012 MLB 2nd Half Players To Watch
After the NL’s dominant 8-0 win in Tuesday’s All Star Game, it’s time to get back to baseball and the nominal second half of the season. There have been plenty of surprises as division and wild card races take shape, with the added excitement of a second wild card team in each league giving more cities across the country hope that their team could savor the sweet taste of October baseball. But to get to that point, each team will need many players to be key components to a postseason run. Here’s one player to watch from each team, starting with the victorious Senior Circuit.
Players To Watch
Gio Gonzalez (Washington), Chipper Jones (Atlanta), R.A. Dickey (New York), Heath Bell & Jose Reyes (Miami), Cole Hamels (Philadelphia).
With Stephen Strasburg on an innings limit, Gonzalez is going to need to continues being the Nats’ ace. The young Braves and light hitting Mets have to rely on their veterans to stay in the race. Miami’s big offseason acquisitions need to wake up before it’s too late. How will Hamels deal with trade pressure?
Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh), Joey Votto (Cincinnati), Carlos Beltran (St. Louis), Zack Greinke (Milwaukee), Ryan Dempster & Matt Garza (Chicago), Brett Myers (Houston).
Pittsburgh’s pitching can’t possibly last, so McCutchen has to maintain his MVP form. Same for the Reds and Votto. Beltran has been an offensive godsend for the Cardinals and they need him to continue. The latter four are going to have to deal with a litany of trade speculation.
Matt Kemp (Los Angeles), Tim Lincecum (San Francisco), Justin Upton (Arizona), Carlos Quentin (San Diego), Drew Pomeranz (Colorado).
Kemp’s offensive wizardry has to prevent the Dodgers from sliding further down the division standings. If Lincecum can somehow recapture his old form, the Giants will be tough to stop the rest of the way. Upton have been involved in trade rumors, while Pomeranz has been the lone bright spot on a woeful Rockies staff. How will each of these players perform in the second half?
CC Sabathia (New York), Adam Jones (Baltimore), Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay), Carl Crawford & Jacoby Ellsbury (Boston), Edwin Encarnacion (Toronto).
The Yankee offense will be fine, but the starting rotation needs Sabathia as its anchor. Jones has to continue his torrent pace to lead the surprising Orioles and the Rays and Red Sox players could provide gigantic sparks coming off injuries. Encarnacion just got a new contract and the Jays will have to win high scoring games to stay in the race.
Jake Peavy (Chicago), Derek Lowe & Ubaldo Jimenez (Cleveland), Prince Fielder (Detroit), Will Myers (Kansas City), Josh Willingham (Minnesota).
The White Sox offense is strong, no question, but the pitching staff needs a leader if they want to hold on to this division lead. The Indians offense won’t be able to get this team to the postseason, so their two veteran starters must improve. The Tigers pitching staff hasn’t cut it and the offense, led by Fielder, is 7th in the AL in runs scored. Myers’ inevitable call up could energize the Royals and Willingham needs to carry this Twins offense because Trevor Plouffe won’t be able to keep this up.
Josh Hamilton (Texas), Mike Trout (Los Angeles), Brandon McCarthy (Oakland), Felix Hernandez (Seattle)
Hamilton is a free agent after the season, so all eyes will be on him for the rest of the Rangers’ season. Can Trout keep up this MVP pace in his rookie year to guide the Angels to the postseason? The A’s are at .500 without their best pitcher, what will they do when he’s healthy? And how can King Felix stay sane while the Mariners continue to lose?