An analysis and prediction by Nash Walker
WAR – Wins above replacement – This stat measures a player’s total contribution to their team. A WAR above 0 indicates that this player helps their team win. Cody Bellinger leads the MLB (6.6).
OBP – On-base percentage – This stat measures a player’s ability to reach base safely. Mike Trout (.453) and the Boston Red Sox (.345) lead the MLB in OBP.
OPS – On-base plus slugging – This stat measures how well a player or team can reach base, and with how much power they possess while doing it. OPS is widely considered to be the best stat when evaluating hitters. Minnesota has the highest OPS in 2019 (.833), while Miami has the worst (.655).
ERA – Earned run average – This stat measures how many runs a pitcher allows over a full game. The Rays have the best ERA in 2019 (3.35), while the Orioles have the worst (5.61).
Batting Average – This stat measures the percentage at which a player or team hits the ball without getting out. Minnesota and Boston lead the league (.272), while San Francisco trails (.230).
There isn’t a tighter race in the MLB. The Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals, Reds and Pirates are all within 4.5 games. Every team in the division has led for at least one day.
The Chicago Cubs hold a half game lead. Bullpen woes greeted them in April but they recovered in May with a 16-12 record. A torrid June would follow, with losses coming from Colorado, Los Angeles and Cincinnati. All-Star Javier Baez has almost identical numbers as last year: an .881 OPS, .289 batting average and is on pace for 40 home runs. Baez is hitting a steamy .357 in July.
Before Cole Hamels hit the IL with an oblique strain, he led the pitching staff with a 2.98 ERA and 8.76 strikeouts per game. The team is 3-6 with a 5.77 ERA without their ace.
Christian Yelich has destroyed the Cubs and just about everyone else. The defending MVP is hitting at a .329 clip with 31 home runs. 21 of those have come at home and Yelich bats a ridiculous .373 at Miller Park. His OPS of 1.140 is the best in baseball.
The Cardinals of St. Louis rank 23rd in runs scored and OPS, and 24th in homers. It has been a disappointing stretch for St. Louis, especially after acquiring Paul Goldschmidt. The six time All-Star is batting a cool .254, the lowest since his rookie season.
The Reds and the Pirates are below .500 but have shown promise with exciting young stars. Pittsburgh first baseman Josh Bell was elected into his first All-Star game and participated in the Home Run Derby. The slugger leads the MLB in runs batted in (84) and doubles (30).
One of the most dominant pitchers in baseball is Luis Castillo. Castillo has a WAR of 3.7 for Cincinnati in 18 starts. The right-hander strikes out almost 11 batters per nine innings. Castillo gives up just five hits per game, the best in the majors.
The Pirates and Reds have opposite issues. The Pirates have one of the worst team ERAs in the league, while the Reds pitch at third best. Cincinnati has a team OPS of .712 (24th) while Pittsburgh ranks in the top half at .764.
Prediction: The Cubs pull away behind a strong second half from Javier Baez.
The Atlanta Braves have pulled in front of the Phillies. Ronald Acuña has 21 homers in his second season in the big leagues. The 2018 Rookie of the Year has improved at getting on base and his .882 OPS is elite. Josh Donaldson is a borderline All-Star and is enjoying a resurgent season. Donaldson has become an every day third baseman after appearing in just 16 games last year with Cleveland. Donaldson will be an unrestricted free agent following this season and figures to cash in.
Nationals’ Star Max Scherzer is a perennial All-Star and keeps getting better. The right-hander has Washington in second place and in striking distance of Atlanta. Scherzer strikes out 12.6 batters per nine innings and is sporting the lowest ERA of his career at 2.3. Third baseman Anthony Rendon leads the charge on offense with an OPS of .997 and 20 home runs.
After signing a 330 million dollar contract, Bryce Harper is batting .253 with 16 home runs in 90 games. The Phillies have underperformed after an off-season of heightened expectations and signings. Philadelphia is 47-43.
The Mets and the Marlins are in the basement of the division. The Mets still have plenty of talent, led by Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard, but they have one of the worst defenses in baseball and are fifth in errors with 65. Their .757 OPS ranks near the middle of the pack. The Marlins own the worst record in the NL.
Prediction: The Nationals steal the division with more Scherzer excellence.
This one should be easy. No one has had a better second half than the Los Angeles Dodgers. They hold a 13.5 game lead over Arizona and also have one of the best players in the league in Cody Bellinger. Bellinger has a whopping .336 batting average with 30 home runs.
Hyun-Jin Ryu is firmly in the hunt for the NL Cy-Young after posting a 1.73 ERA in the first half. Second starter Walker Buehler strikes out over a batter an inning and Clayton Kershaw, although not his former self, is pitching admirably in a new role as the team’s third starter.
Barring a miraculous comeback, the NL West is pretty much wrapped up. The Diamondbacks have impressed despite losing catalyst David Peralta earlier in the season. Peralta is back and Arizona will be battling for a Wild Card berth.
The second best player in the division has been Charlie Blackmon. Blackmon was voted into the All-Star game with a .330 batting average and 20 home runs. The Rockies defeated the Cubs last season in the Wild Card game, and could once again find themselves in the one-game playoff with a strong second half.
Prediction: Colorado tightens the gap, but the Dodgers win the West by eight games.
Wild Card Prediction:
(4) Atlanta over (5) Milwaukee
The Phillies implode and miss the playoffs while Atlanta battles Milwaukee and wins at home.
(4) Atlanta over (1) Los Angeles
In a five game upset, the Braves find a way to dethrone the Dodgers behind a big series from Ronald Acuña Jr.
(2) Chicago over (3) Washington
The Cubs are too much to handle for the Nationals at Wrigley, win in 3.
(2) Chicago over (4) Atlanta
Experience and depth pushes Chicago to the World Series after six hard fought games.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org