With the All-Star break marking the unofficial midway point of the 2019 season, theScore's Michael Bradburn and Jason Wilson debate how certain players and teams will perform in the second half.
Will the Dodgers win 106-plus games?
Yes: What's going to stop them? Even after sputtering into the All-Star break, the Dodgers own a .659 winning percentage. Yes, they'd have to go 46-25 the rest of the way, but they have the best run differential in the National League (plus-129) and are almost certainly going to bolster an already incredible roster by the trade deadline. Los Angeles has three Cy Young candidates (Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler, and Clayton Kershaw), an MVP front-runner (Cody Bellinger), and one of baseball's top rookies (Alex Verdugo). The Dodgers should cruise to 106. Their third-order win percentage (based on run differential) had them at 68-25 over the first half. - Wilson
No: It's true that the Dodgers' current pace would equate to a 106-56 record. And it's also true that they face some pretty easy competition in the second half, with a pair of series against the Miami Marlins and interleague matchups against the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles. That being said, it's been an absolutely relentless pace so far - which took five consecutive walk-off victories to be on - and it's almost certainly not going to hold up, even if this squad seems poised to take that next step. Los Angeles will likely get pretty close, though, with FanGraphs projections having them pegged for somewhere around 101 or 102 wins. - Bradburn
Can Christian Yelich reach the 60-homer mark?
Yes: It's time to stop betting against Yelich. His torrid second half last year seemed unsustainable, until he sustained it through the entire first half of this season. Since the 2018 All-Star break, Yelich has been the best slugger in baseball, and it's not even really close. His .736 slugging percentage is merely 80 points higher than Mike Trout's, who's in second place, and his 56 home runs lead runner-up Hunter Renfroe by 10. If he makes 695 plate appearances - as he did in 2018 - and maintains his current pacing, he'll get to 59. The reigning MVP can squeeze out one or two more, can't he? - Bradburn
No: Sixty is just so hard to reach. It's been done eight times in history by five different players, and not once since 2001. As crazy as his pace has been, it's slowed considerably since a dynamite April when he hit 14 long balls. Yelich hit seven in May and eight more in June. He'll need to average more than 10 homers in each of August and September while also coming out hot after the All-Star Game. Too much has to break right. It's also not even the milestone that is most interesting for him, as Yelich is within spitting distance of being the fifth player ever to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in the same season. At the break, he has 31 and 19. - Wilson
Will Chris Sale finish with a losing record for the 1st time since 2013?
Yes: Sure, why not? He could also become the first pitcher to win the Cy Young Award with a losing record. Right now, he needs five wins to get back to .500 and his ERA is the highest it's ever been thanks to a troubling number of walks and career-worst home run rate. He's still striking out batters with impunity, but even if he turns it around and becomes the Sale we know he can be, roughly a dozen more starts might not be enough to get his win total back in the black. - Bradburn
No: The Boston Red Sox are too good to continuously let Sale down. The 4.04 ERA is obviously higher than he'd like it to be, but he's still striking out around 35 percent of opponents. Sale should be able to climb back to .500 from his 3-8 record. He got off to a horrendous start this season but is 3-3 with a 3.16 ERA since the beginning of May. Sale is heating up as the weather does and should be able to put his three recent rocky starts behind him as he exits the break. - Wilson
Will there be more than three 100-loss teams?
Yes: Let's watch the world burn. In an age when there is increasingly less opportunity for baseball to have a middle class, you're either a contender or in a rebuild. This has fueled a crazy division of power with the bad teams being among the worst ever. The Orioles and the Kansas City Royals have each lost 60 games already, while the Blue Jays, Marlins, and Seattle Mariners aren't far behind. Expect those teams to get even worse at the trade deadline when they deal some of their best major-league assets to bolster future gains. At least three teams will lose 100 games. Maybe more, somehow. - Wilson
No: While it's true that the trade deadline will likely make the bad teams worse, September roster expansion could wind up giving some of them a boost. Bottom-feeding clubs usually benefit from the addition of players during the final month, and with teams at the very top possibly resting stars in the final weeks, the competition might level out a bit, too. Bank on the Orioles and at least one AL Central team to hit the inauspicious 100-loss mark, but four would be unprecedented. - Bradburn
Will Mike Trout draw 150 walks (not including IBB)?
Yes: Trout sits at 76 walks this season and would need to more than double that total with less than half of the campaign remaining. It would also mean he'd need to average more than one walk per team game played. Working in the two-time MVP's favor, though, is the fact that he's dropped his strikeout rate from last year and is hitting more home runs. Pitchers could decide to nibble against Trout down the final stretch with the only lineup protection around him being Shohei Ohtani and Tommy La Stella. - Bradburn
No: After playing in no fewer than 157 games for four straight years, Trout has suffered injuries the past two campaigns, and that history - flukey as it is - could rear its ugly head down the stretch. He's walking less often than he did last year and finished with only 122 in 2018. No one other than Barry Bonds has walked 150 times in a season since 2000. And only Babe Ruth (twice), Ted Williams (twice), Mark McGwire (once), and Eddie Yost (once) have achieved the feat in addition to Bonds. - Wilson