2012 MLB Mid-Season Recap – BaseballSaturday, July 14, 2012 22:23
A look at the best and the worst of the first half of the 2012 MLB season.
But A Season Runs 162 Games
With the baseball year’s spiritual mid-point done and gone as of last Tuesday’s All-Star Game, ’tis time to take stock of the winners and losers of the first half of the season.
Most Surprising – Baltimore Orioles: The Pittsburgh Pirates come a close second here, but since the Buccos had a similarly surprising first half last year prior to tanking in the second half, the nod goes to the Orioles. Baltimore has led the loaded AL East (as of this writing, the entire division is .500 and better) for most of the season. Alas, a recent slump cooped with a Yankees surge has dropped them to second place, but considering the Orioles’ struggles in recent years, 2012 has so far been a year of which the birds can be proud.
Most Disappointing – Philadelphia Phillies: Considering the amount of talent on this team and the Phils’ success in recent years, for Philadelphia to be cellar-dwelling in the NL East with a 38-51 record–fifth worst in the league–easily places the Phillies as the most disappointing team in all of baseball.
Best Turnaround, Expected – Washington Nationals:The big difference between Washington and Baltimore is that Washington’s turnaround has been expected for a couple years–a matter of when, not if. The Nationals have been stockpiling young talent (Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper); sooner or later, barring injury or boneheaded deals, Wasington was bound to become a contender. Best team in the National League? That’s simply bonus.
Rolling with the Punches – Texas Rangers: Ever since Nolan Ryan took over the ball club the Rangers can do no wrong. Even when Texas has lost key players–Cliff Lee after 2010, C.J. Wilson after last season (going to the division rival Angels to boot)–the Rangers haven’t lost a step. Is a third straight World Series appearance in the cards? It is a definite possibility. Of all the current division leaders, only the Rangers and the Yankees have the recent deep playoff experience not to question their ability for continued success.
On the Precipice – Los Angeles Dodgers: LA was the best team in baseball to start the season but recent offensive struggles have cut the Dodgers down to size. Unlike the sorrowful histories of some of the other turnaround teams, the Blue Crew’s woes of the last couple years can largely be attributed to off-the-field distractions–after all the Dodgers were in the playoffs as recently as 2009 and they do have talent (last year’s NL Cy Young Award winner and MVP runner up). Now teetering, the question remains which Dodgers team will show up for the rest of 2012: the one that started the year or the one playing of late?
Most Consternating – Boston Red Sox: I never expected Boston to be good this year–and I am a Red Sox fan. Too much negativity and discord at the end of last season, followed by off-season turmoil (Francona out, Valentine in), not to mention the Varitek and Wakefield retirements. That having been said, I never expected the Sox to be as awful as they were to begin the year. But what has made Boston so frustrating is that after the slow start the Red Sox have been just good enough, losing several games, then winning just as many, now puttering at .500 or a shade over. The winning streaks and strong spurts haven’t been flukes but good enough to inspire belief that if the Sox could put everything else behind them, they could be in playoff contention. But then Boston loses a bunch again, enough to drive any fan up a wall.
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