1 second-half prediction for every team

July 23rd, 2022

All right, the All-Star Game is in the rearview mirror, the Trade Deadline is around the corner and we are about to go flooring it into the home stretch. This is the fun part, folks. Who knows what’s going to happen?

Well, no one, but I’m gonna give it a shot anyway. Here’s a look, as we turn the corner to the season’s second half, at a prediction for every team. All these predictions are guaranteed to be right, particularly if you promise, when the season is over, not to go back and check.


Blue Jays: They’re going to figure it out, and they’re going to be fine.
So they’re not going to catch up with the Yankees. The ’27 Yankees couldn’t catch up with the Yankees right now. The listless first half will still feel like a decade ago by September, and this team is going to end up hosting a Wild Card Series.

Orioles: Finishing under .500 will have never felt so wonderful.
The Orioles gave their fans some legitimate joy for the first time in several years, but that 2022 rush is unlikely to be repeated. That doesn’t mean the Orioles won't have their best season in a half decade and one that’s proof of concept for a front office that was just starting to feel a little heat.

Rays: For the first time since 2018, they’ll miss the playoffs.
There are all sorts of lights flashing red alerts here. The pitching is still excellent -- if a little thinner than in the past -- but the lineup was feeling a little limp before Wander Franco went down. The perennial contending Rays shouldn’t feel like a disappointment when they miss the playoffs one season, but I suspect it will feel that way.

Red Sox: They’ll just sneak in the playoffs.
It has been a roller coaster for Sox fans so far: They’d written their team off early, rejoiced in their recovery and then lamented their recent struggles (and the loss of Chris Sale). But the view here is that they’ll have just enough to earn the No. 6 seed and play three games against the AL Central winner -- a very winnable series, for what it’s worth.

Yankees: They won’t break the wins record, but they’ll still have their best record this century.
The Yankees won 103 games in 2009 (not coincidentally the last year they won the World Series). They’ll soar past that, but, with the division essentially clinched by the Trade Deadline, they’ll lack the urgency to challenge the 1998 or 1927 version. Not that it’ll matter: They’ll be rested, healthy and ready after their first-round bye and No. 1 overall seed.


Guardians: Their lack of movement will hold them back again.
The Guardians are again a team that could use one or two little boosts down the stretch. But I have a hunch they won’t be as bold as perhaps they should be at the Trade Deadline and that’ll end up with them finishing just behind Boston for the final Wild Card spot.

Royals: The Bobby Witt Jr. explosion you’ve been waiting for is imminent.
Witt has been fine, if not spectacular, in the first half, but you can still see the talent oozing off of him every game he plays. It’s all about to come together for him. It may well happen soon -- perhaps immediately.

Tigers: Spencer Torkelson will come back better than ever.
He didn’t set baseball aflame, to say the least, but the skills are still there, even if he was optioned to the Minors recently. Tigers fans are desperate for something to feel good about this year. By September, Torkelson will be back up, and giving them some much-needed hope.

Twins: They’re just going to miss the playoffs again.
The Twins could use a deadline boost for their pitching, but even if they get it, the second half is going to be rough for them. Sure, they have 17 games against the Royals and Tigers, but they also have all sorts of tough out-of-division series: They get the Yankees, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Giants, Brewers, Padres and Astros. That’s the toughest schedule in this division, and they’ll have no room for error. It’s still an improvement over last year’s disaster, but here’s betting they fall just short.

White Sox: They’re winning the division.
You might not consider it a vindication for Tony La Russa, but he’ll probably still take it that way. The White Sox are getting healthy, playing better lately and have, by one measure, the easiest schedule remaining in the American League. It has been a rough first half, but the first half is over. They have 38 games against teams with losing records, including 27 against the wretched A’s, Royals and Tigers. You’re not getting rid of the White Sox that easily, folks.


Angels: The “Trade Shohei” stories will begin before the World Series starts.
Remember: He’s a free agent after next year. Do the Angels look to you like a team that’s competing for a playoff spot next year? It’s the next huge MLB story you’ll constantly be refreshing social media for updates on. Prepare thyself.

Astros: We won’t think about them until October, and that’ll be just fine.
Considering all the turmoil about the Astros the last few years, it’s a little remarkable how little anyone’s talking about what is clearly one of the best five teams in baseball. The Astros are running away with the division and are going to get a first-round bye. It’s setting up perfectly for them. Shhhhh.

Athletics: The Frankie Montas return will feel disappointing.
It seems very likely their ace -- who is under club control through next season -- is going to be traded in the next couple of weeks. It might turn out well, and it might not. But like everything else in Oakland this year, it can’t help but feel like a letdown at this point.

Mariners: Oh yeah -- they’re doing it.
It may seem like they don’t lose these days, but that is besides the point. What Julio Rodríguez has brought to this team, overwhelming talent, energy, joy, swagger, has me a full-on believer. I’m not sure how long they’ll last in the postseason, and they might not even get to host a game for those long-suffering fans. But this is the year the 21-year postseason drought ends.

Rangers: Third place? Sure, third place.
This might not be something to celebrate, especially considering how many games they’re going to finish out of first. But it’s not nothing. It could even be something to build on.


Braves: They’re going to catch up with the Mets.
This is not to insult the Mets, who may be even tougher of a playoff out than the Braves. But this Braves team looks better to me than the one that just won the World Series. In fact, they currently have a much better winning percentage (.600) than last year’s club (.547).

Marlins: Sandy Alcantara is winning the Cy Young.
Would you believe he’ll be the first Marlin to win one?

Mets: They’ll lose their division lead but still host a playoff series.
The fall from the No. 2 seed to the No. 4 seed will feel like a lot, but there’s no way the Dodgers -- whom they would face if the Mets win their Wild Card Series -- will want anything to do with a deGrom/Scherzer combo in a five-game series.

Nationals: Juan Soto will be traded.
I wouldn’t dare guess a destination. But it sure looks like he’s going to be traded. It could happen in the offseason, but some insiders seem to think it’s imminent.

Phillies: They’re about to have the longest playoff drought in baseball.
They’ve shown some real fire in the wake of Bryce Harper’s injury, but it still feels like they’re going to run out of gas eventually. With the Mariners reaching the playoffs in the AL, this puts the Phillies atop the dubious-distinction playoff drought list.


Brewers: They’ll lose the division, but just hang on for the playoffs.
For the first two months of the season, this looked like a stealth World Series contender. But injuries, lineup inconsistency and some looming Josh Hader worries have gotten them off the path. They’re only 1 1/2 games up in the Central right now, and the Cardinals have the easiest schedule in baseball in the second half. It will be between them and Philly for the last spot. They’ll hang on, but barely.

Cardinals: They’re winning the division … but still not avoiding the Brewers.
The only two watchable teams in the division right now feel like they’re set for a collision course, one way or another. The Cardinals have a stunning 38 games against the Reds, Cubs, Pirates and Nationals in the second half. If they can stay out of their own way, the division is theirs.

Cubs: Willson Contreras and Ian Happ will be traded, and the only guys left from 2016 will be Jason Heyward and Kyle Hendricks (and David Ross.)
A lot can happen in six years, it turns out.

Pirates: They’re finishing in third.
In this division that might not seem like much of an accomplishment, but this would be the first time they’ve done it since 2016, when they started this rebuild in the first place.

Reds: Hunter Greene will show enough flashes to give everybody hope.
There’s some hope for the Reds in the next couple years; you can see it if you squint. Greene won an NL Player of the Week award a few weeks ago. He has a ways to go, but the talent is clearly there.


D-backs: They’re going to mess up someone’s season.
Arizona has the third-hardest schedule moving forward, with games against the Dodgers, Mets, Braves, Padres, Brewers and Cardinals. They’re a little better than you think they are. Someone in a pennant chase is going to assume they’ve got wins in the books, lose two out of three and suddenly feel like they’re in big trouble.

Dodgers: They’ll win more games than any other Dodgers team.
They set the all-time Dodgers win record last year with 106, which most people didn’t notice because they finished in second. But they’re well-positioned to beat it this year. As always: The road to the Series is going to go through Chavez Ravine.

Giants: Missing the playoffs will feel like a bigger step back than it is.
It’s actually really impressive that the Giants are in the midst of the race like they are. But the 107-win season of 2021 set the bar insanely high. This is still a franchise on the right track.

Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr. will come back soon enough to make you forget his absence.
It’s a bummer that he has not played thus far this season, but he has enough talent to compensate for that missed time in every facet of the game.

Rockies: Kris Bryant will end up being their best player after all.
After a mostly lost first half, he has returned recently and started launching the ball like we thought he would. There is more of that coming, and plenty of time for the team to feel good about that long-term contract.