The first half of the baseball season has come to an end. And what a first half it was. We had Trea Turner hitting 2 home runs with 10 RBI’s in one game, we had James Paxton throw a no-hitter against the Blue Jays, we had a combined no-hitter from the Dodgers that included pitchers Walker Buehler, Yimi Garcia, Adam Liberatore, and Tony Cingrani. Sean Manaea threw one against the Boston Red Sox the day after 4/20, amazing. There was five players that hit three home runs in a game this year. Matt Davidson of the White Sox did it all the way back on March 29th which was opening day. Christian Villanueva took the Rockies deep three times on April 4th to give the Padres their first win of the season. The great Mookie Betts did it against the Angels on April 18th, two days before 4/20. AJ Pollock of the Diamondbacks did it against the Dodgers on April 30th, 10 days after 4/20. The last one of the first half came off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion coming against the Rangers on May 2nd. There are many more highlights of the first half that my tiny brain cannot think of right now but those are some of the cooler feats that happened in the first half.
There are only some great players that are consistently great year in and year out. Not everyone can be Mike Trout every year. However there are some surprises this year and some disappointments as well that have caught me off guard, here are a few that have caught my eye.
Jesus Aguilar– I know I already vouched for my boy Aguilar because his teammates can’t do their due diligence, but I’m here once again to talk about this man. He leads the National League in home runs with 24 and OPS (on base plus slugging percentage) with a .996 clip. Amazing for a guy that was riding the bench to start the season. With Ryan Braun a walking DL threat, Aguilar has done his part plus much more than the Brewers could have asked of him. I don’t see the Brewers benching him in the 2nd half. Get ready for a 40 home run season.
J.D Martinez– We all knew the man could hit as he has displayed in the past and last year by hitting 45 bombs in only 119 games. The question coming into this season was: was it a fluke? Martinez put all the negative Nancy’s in their place by putting up scary numbers day in and day out. he is currently tied with Jose Ramirez for the lead in home runs with 29. He is leading the American League in RBI’s with 80 and total bases with 228. That means he is ahead of the baseball god that is Mike Trout. He is 9th in WAR (wins above replacement) for position players with 4.3, respectively. He has an OBP of .392 while slugging .648, second behind his beast of a teammate Mookie Betts. I’m sure the world wanted him to fail when he came out in the off-season, lead by dick head power agent Scott Boras, asking for a $200 million dollar contract only to get a lowly $110 mil. Guess he might’ve been worth that $200 mil he was asking for.
Nick Markakis– Since making the transition early in his career to become a full time outfielder after getting drafted as a pitcher, Markakis has been the definition of consistency. Only playing under 155 games once in his career (his first full season he played a weak 147) he is a staple to be in the lineup every single night. As his career has progressed, the offensive stats have been on a slow decline. Not enough to talk shit about but just the stats that a non baseball fan pays attention too. This year is a different story. Markakis, playing for my favorite team the Atlanta Braves, is leading the National league in hits with 119 and doubles with 29. If he keeps up this pace, he will break his doubles record of 48 he set waaaaay back in 2008. He already has 10 home runs this year while only hitting a total of 8 last year and 13 the year before that. He is doing all this while hitting .323 with an OBP of .388. The average, where it stands today, would be a career high for him while his OBP would be his second highest as he had a OBP of .406 back in the great season he had in 2008. Remarkable that Markakis is turning back the clock and is firing on all cylinders. Not to mention helping the Braves to a very surprising record of 51-42. Stay tuned.
Michael Conforto- Conforto looked poised to build off of his excellent year last year that saw him have a triple slash of .279/.384/.555 with 27 bombs and 68 RBI’s in only 109 games. The world was ready for Conforto to unleash 30+ bombs with 100+ RBI’s. The baseball gods had a different plan in mind this season. half way though the year, Conforto is sitting with a triple slash of .218/.345/.370. So sad. He is still getting on base at a great clip, considering his average, but everything else just isn’t working. He has a beautiful swing and has good at bats it just seems that the hits are just not falling. Hopefully he picks up the pace soon to show the world what he is capable of. BTW, the Mets record is at 39-54. Pretty shitty after a 11-2 start. Just saying.
Luis Castillo- Castillo came on the scene late last year to only impress everyone paying attention. Armed with a mid to high 90’s fastball and dirty slider, it looked like we were witnessing a potential ace. Then 2018 happened. He was a sleeper pick for me this year in fantasy and unfortunately I didn’t get to draft him, but my dumbass friend dropped him and I scooped him up with a huge woody and smile on my face, only to have the roles reversed and now I’m the dumbass. This man has let me down. Through 20 starts, he has a 5-8 record with an ugly 5.49 ERA. He has let up a league leading 19 home runs and 63 earned runs. So shitty. He’s still throwing mid to high 90’s but everything he’s throwing is getting ripped. He is still striking out people at a decent rate with 96 through 103.1 innings, but that doesn’t mean shit when you have an ERA right around 5.50. The Reds need to figure something out with him to get him throwing the ball how he did last year before he’s a lost cause.
Jonathon Schoop- The year 2017 was kind to Schoop. Setting career high’s in almost every category across the board, he hit 32 bombs with 105 RBI’s and a .293 average just for some visual numbers. I’m going to brag that I indeed called this breakout so this upcoming fantasy season I had him as a player I was going to reach for. Thank goodness someone else with longer reach then me got him. 2018 has been a disaster. His triple slash is .229/.263/389 with 10 bombs and a sad 25 RBI’s. in comparison, his triple slash in 2017 was .293/338/.503. Kind of sketchy but who knows what’s happening. Maybe Chris Davis “accidently” took Schoop’s batch of Adderall and it’s been the biggest mystery in the Baltimore clubhouse. Not sure. Could happen, but still not sure. This man is supposed to be in the prime of his career right now and the baseball god’s are making it difficult for him. I would however look for Schoop to be a bounce back candidate in the second half. Maybe the rest will do him and his brain some good. Also, Chris Davis needs to share some of his addy.