MLB teams have already passed the midway point of the season in terms of games played. However, next week, when teams take a few days off for the All-Star Break, will mark the unofficial halfway point. With the Midsummer Classic scheduled for next Tuesday, July 17th, it's a good time to look back on the season to date, recalibrate some predictions for the postseason, and examine some of the most interesting storylines as the July 31st trade deadline approaches.
In order to do that, we caught up with four CBS Local sports anchors to get their thoughts on who the first-half MVP was, what potential trades they see their teams making and predictions on how the pennant races will shake out.
There were a variety of answers to the MVP question, but one player did get multiple votes. That would be Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout.
"Even though the Angels aren't great, Mike Trout is, and it's hard to argue with the season that he's having, that he isn't the best player in baseball," said Mark Viviano of WJZ in Baltimore. "That makes him the most valuable. He's got my vote."
CBS3 in Philadelphia's Don Bell agrees with Viviano's assessment, adding that Trout's Wins Above Replacement number of 6.9 at the halfway mark puts him on pace for the best season of his career. However our other two anchors, WBBM in Chicago's Ryan Baker and CBS 11 in Dallas-Fort Worth's Keith Russell had different picks in the A.L. race. Russell's choice was a bit more outside-the-box.
"I think it's Boston's J.D. Martinez", said Russell. "I know that a guy who predominantly plays D.H. has never won MVP, but this may be the year. When you're in the top five in batting average, lead the majors in home runs and RBI, does it really matter that you don't play the field?"
For Baker, his eyes are set on Houston, and their diminutive but powerful second baseman.
"Jose Altuve. I can't think of a player that does more for his team than Altuve, both at the plate and on the field with the energy he brings," said Baker.
With the trade deadline looming on the horizon, MLB teams have differing strategies, depending on their record and short-term future. Some teams, like the Orioles, White Sox and Rangers are likely to be sellers at the deadline, while the Phillies and Cubs are expected to be among the teams looking to add a piece or two for the stretch run. We asked the guys who they thought could be on the move for their respective franchises.
"The Orioles are a team that are trading away some of their best players," said WJZ's Viviano. "Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Adam Jones, Brad Brach, all these guys as free agents are probably going to find their way out of town because the Orioles are going to go into a rebuilding mode."
Viviano, along with many others in the baseball world, is expecting Machado to be dealt prior to the deadline, CBS3 in Philadelphia's Don Bell is just fine with that, saying he wants the Orioles superstar to come to Philly.
"The place to go would be Baltimore to get Manny Machado," said Bell. "You know he's a free agent at the end of the year and it would be a short-term rental, but it would add a huge pop to their lineup, and it would potentially help them win the division for the first time in seven years.
Meanwhile, down in Texas, CBS 11's Russell wants to see the Rangers deal away one of their beloved veterans, not because he's under-performing, but rather to give him a shot at winning a ring.
"I would personally like to see the Rangers trade away Adrian Beltre," said Russell. "I know how great Beltre is. I know he's going to be in Cooperstown one day. But that's why he deserves a shot to win a World Series ring."
In Chicago, WBBM's Baker is watching a pair of teams with opposite needs going into the deadline. The Cubs could be buyers, while the White Sox, are continuing to rebuild.
"I know Cubs have some issues with their starting rotation: Yu Darvish's health, the reliability of Tyler Chatwood and Kyle Hendricks taking a step back this year, but I really don't see Theo [Epstein] making a big trade for an arm," said Baker. "But, if he does so, one guy who I think might be expendable is Ian Happ."
"On the other side of town, one guy who's come off the disabled list and is really looking like the All-Star that he was last year is Avisail Garcia," said Baker. "He would be the one guy I would potentially look to trade if I can get another nice haul in return."
For more of the guys' opinions on the first half and looking ahead to the rest of the season, take a look at the video above.
for more features.