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AL East: Five up, five down
With the second-half of the season is less than a week old, I thought it would be a good time to look at who might have a strong second half and who might fall off.
Bobby Abreu: How much do the Yankees miss Gary Sheffield? On the field, plenty, as Abreu inexplicably fell off the map. Though he once possessed a powerful throwing arm, that alone cannot mask his fielding inadequacies anymore. Moreover, his ability to get on base has covered a sharp decline in power, but in the first half he just didn't do very much of anything well. He's become a poor defensive player and while his OBP is respectable (.353) it is far from below his career average (.409). The Yankees have an option on him at the end of the year. While he may not play well enough to remain in New York, he'll salvage what has been a down year.
Manny Ramirez: There are a bunch of candidates on the Red Sox that should improve as the summer rolls along, notably Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew and Coco Crisp. Ramirez (.288/.385/.473) has respectable numbers but this is Manny Ramirez, Hall of Fame Hitter, we're talking about. He's got just 12 home runs. Look for a late season flourish and for Manny to hit 30-plus by the time it’s all said and done.
Akinori Iwamura: The D Ray's third baseman has only played in 56 games due to assorted injuries, but he's hit to the tune of .285/.366/.416. At the plate, Iwamura looks like a combination of countrymen Ichiro and Godzilla. He pulls off the ball like Ichiro but his body is thicker like Godzilla's. If he can remain healthy, he'll do a little bit of everything well, including running the bases and fielding his position.
Roy Halladay: Toronto's ace is 10-4 but his ERA is 4.66, just about the worst of his career (he did have a 10.64 ERA in just 67 innings in 2000). Halladay has battled through injuries, sure, but if he can keep himself off the DL, there is every reason to believe that he'll return to form, get that ERA down below 4.00 and win close to 20 games.
Nick Markakis: OK, this is pushing it, seeing as how the second year outfielder is having a good season (.288/.350/.453). Right now, his rate numbers are almost identical to his final 2006 stats. But Markakis was a monster in the second-half last year (.311/.364/.532) -- he hit 14 of his 16 home runs after the break. Why not again?
Mike Lowell: Boston's third baseman was thought to be washed-up when he joined the Red Sox with Josh Beckett last year. He's been anything but, providing solid defense and a steady bat. Last year, he hit .307/.359/.516 in the first half (with 31 doubles), .257/.315/.424 (just 16 doubles) after. Look for a similar slide this year.
Alex Rodriguez: He's been the Yankees' best player this year. With 30 homers and 86 RBIs at the break, there is almost no place to go but down. Rodriguez has bounced back from his "poor" 2006 season, and has thrived in spite of controversy, much of it of his own doing. However, with the Yankees teetering and an off-season that is sure to bring many more distractions (not to mention dollars), will Rodriguez will be able to maintain his level of play?
Jeremy Guthrie: The 28-year old right-hander has been heaven sent for the Birds this year, with 75 strikeouts and just 21 walks with a 3.07 ERA in 105 innings. But as the innings mount and the losing in Baltimore swells, look for Guthrie to come back to the pack.
Alex Rios: The Jays' lanky right fielder has picked up nicely where he left off in 2006 before a bizarre staph-infection sullied his season. He already has a career-high 18 home runs, and before it is all said and done should set career marks in walks, doubles and runs scored. That said, I just don't envision him slugging .532 the rest of the way. Very nice young player, but I won't be sold on him until he proves it over the course of a full season.
Labels: AL East
posted by SI.com | View comments |
You don't need to wait for a player to get impaled - there's always Steve Yeager:
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