MLB 2009 Midpoint Plus

Okay, baseball fans, we are just about there—baseball’s midpoint. Actually, the All-Star break comes a bit past the midpoint of the season. Each team has already played over 81 games. It’s been an interesting season (to say the least). Here are a few observations.

Hottest, Coldest and Most Tepid

The hottest team in baseball over the past ten games has been those pesky Texas Rangers. The Rangers are 8- 2 and 0.5 games up on the Los Angels Angels and 4.5 games above the Seattle Mariners. Both the Angels and Seattle have played .500 baseball during the same time. The Texas hitters aren’t really going for high averages. They’re doing it by smacking the long ball. The Rangers lead the majors in round trippers with 130. The team .258 BA is the lowest in the majors. The Texas pitching has been good enough to win but not spectacular.

The coldest club in the majors is San Diego. The Padres are 1- 9 over the past 10. Their RS/RA stands at minus-115, which right now is the worst in the majors. In the past 10 games, the Padres have been outscored 67 to 28. Yikes!

The most tepid team has to be the Cincinnati Reds. A few teams are presently 5- 5 but the Reds RS/RA stands at minus-24 and their overall record is 42- 43. The top batting average of the every day players on the team is Brandon Phillips’ .267 mark. Jay Bruce is tops in homers with 18. Starter Bronson Arroyo’s record is 9- 8 and Johnny Cueto’s ERA is 3.45. Okay. Closer Francisco Cordero is the highlight of this team with 21 saves, a 1.75 ERA and 30 Ks in 36 innings.

No, no, no, no! Yes, yes, yes, yes!

If the Giants could score some runs, they would be a massive team. They do sport fine pitching and last night Jonathan Sanchez posted the first no-hitter of the 2009 season by beating the lowly San Diego Padres 8- 0. Sanchez would have had a perfect game but an error in the eighth cost him that bid. Sanchez, who has been struggling, struck out 11 and walked no one.

I love this story because Sanchez is 3- 8 with an ERA of 4.69. Talk about a boost to this guy’s confidence. Last night, he tossed just 110 pitches and had great control. His dad was there to see it happen. In college at Ohio Dominican, he hurled three no-hitters.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—the Giants could be the wild card in the NL this year. Opponents have scored just 313 runs against them. That’s the lowest RA in the majors. Their 362 runs scored ties them for 10th in the NL. Pitching wins games and titles.

Manny Happy Returns

Since coming back from his 50-game suspension for breaking MLB’s drug policy, Manny has managed to do a few things. He’s been thrown out of a game for putting on a show after being called out on strikes and he’s tied the home run mark set by Mickey Mantle. That’s right, Manny now has 536 homers. The future Hall of Fame member took it all in stride saying, “It feels good, but it’s just like another home run.” And so it was. And that comment was, yes, Manny being Manny

Oh, and Manny, who has a .315 lifetime batting average, has also been doing one other thing since coming back—hitting the cover off the ball.

Pondering Pedro

Pedro Martinez, who is 37 years old, is trying to get back to the majors. Last season, Martinez, who started 20 games, posted a 5- 6 record and had a 5.61 ERA, saw the wheels come flying off his career. The diminutive pitcher had been battling arm problems

for many years. The Philadelphia Phillies have taken two looks at Martinez this week and they very well may sign him. The club is searching for two starters.

Lifetime, Pedro is 214- 99 with an ERA of 2.91. His best years were with the Red Sox. Twice he won 20 or more games with that team and in 2000 he went 18- 6 with a 1.74 ERA. The year prior he was 23- 4 with a 2.07 ERA and 313 Ks.

Since coming to the Mets in 2005, he has gone 32- 23, posting an ERA of 3.87. In his best season with New York, which was his first, Martinez was 15- 8 with a 2.82 ERA and 208 strikeouts. That year is the last time he started 30-plus games.

Starting pitching is always at a premium. Martinez seems to have passed the test with the Phillies after throwing a simulated game for them in the Dominican Republic yesterday. He tossed three innings, striking out three, while allowing three hits and no runs. Philadelphia officials had seen him pitch last Tuesday and requested on more outing before making their decision.

Major Leaders in the Major Leagues

Here are the guys who are making a big splash with stats. In the AL, Joe Mauer (Twins) is hitting at a .388 clip. That’s 26 points better than Ichiro (Mariners). In the NL, Hanley Ramirez (Marlins) tops out with a .347 mark, while Carlos Beltran (Mets) and Albert Pujols (Cardinals) are tied for second at .336.

Pujols leads all players with 32 round trippers and 85 RBI. In the American League, Carlos Pena (Rays) is tops with 24 long balls and Jason Bay (Red Sox) has the most RBI with 72.

Here’s an odd one for you—the pitcher with the most wins in the AL is Tim Wakefield (Red Sox) with 11. Wakefield, who is like Old Man River, throws that wicked 60 mph knuckler and this season, it’s knuckling and buckling correctly. Topping the win column in the Senior Circuit is Jason Marquis (Rockies). He also has 11. The leader in ERA in the AL is Zack Greinke (Royals) at 2.12. Dan Haren (Diamond Backs) has a 2.01 ERA in the NL.

Finally, in the category of closer, the reliever with the most saves in the National league is Heath Bell (Padres). He has 23. In the American League, the honor goes to Brian Fuentes who has 25.

That’s how things look just two day prior to the midseason classic. Enjoy the competition between the two leagues.

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