By: Noah Wright
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Post All-Star break is when the most exciting things in baseball mainly happen. Blockbuster trades are made, award candidates make a push for the award they’re going for, playoff teams solidify their spot in October, and teams just out of contention make a final push to get to extend their season. Some storylines can really unfold after The All-Star game, and could be the most important, or best storyline in the entire season.
1.) Do The Mets trade Syndergaard and DeGrom?
The NY Mets’ 2 aces, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob DeGrom have been in trade rumors for weeks. And it’s completely possible that both are traded by the deadline. The Mets are way out of contention for The NL East at 13.5 games out of the division (and have a worse record than The Marlins), and are 13 games out of the wildcard. That, along with a core that’s not getting any younger, it’s clear that The Mets should be sellers at the deadline. While the first ones to go will likely be veterans like Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Bautista, Syndergaard and DeGrom will likely be the next to go. If The Mets do trade their 2 aces, they’ll kick off a rebuild in a big way, and the team, or teams receiving either DeGrom or Syndergaard will likely be playoff teams, and should give them a force in the rotation that could carry them deep into the postseason.
2.) Will Jesus Aguilar continue to produce the way he has?
One of the biggest surprises of the season has been Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar. The guy has absolutely been killing it since stepping into the regular 1B role. Entering the break, Aguilar is batting .298, has a .995 OPS, with a league leading 24 homers, and .621 slugging %. His 159 wRC+ is also higher than that of MVP candidates Nolan Arenado and Freddie Freeman. However, Aguilar only went 2-15 in the 5 game series against The Pittsburgh Pirates, with one of his hits being a homerun. That along with the fact that he could suffer from Home Run Derby Fatigue could make some fans wonder if Aguilar will continue to produce at MVP levels with his bat after the break.
3.) Will Max Muncy continue to produce?
Max Muncy is in a situation like Aguilar, but worse. Muncy never showed the potential, or power that Aguilar did. Muncy didn’t even play a game in The MLB last season. However, he’s batting .271/.409/.604 in 279 PA’s. He also has 22 home runs, 41 RBI’s, and an outstanding 171 wRC+. But what he does have in common with Aguilar, other than surprise producers, is that he’s participating in The HR derby tonight, and like with many players, he could suffer from Derby Fatigue.
4.) Where will Manny Machado land?
It seems like months now that we’ve heard about rumors surrounding Manny Machado. And only one thing is certain: Machado will end the season with a different team. Who that team is though, it still up for debate. Early on in the season, you could probably say that The Dodgers will be the most likely to get the all-star Oriole. Now you may say that The Brewers or Phillies will land Manny. But that’s not the only teams in the Machado sweepstakes. The Indians, Yankees, and Braves are all still in the race for Machado. Even The D-Backs have been in some Machado rumors too. Wherever the all-star shortstop/third baseman lands, it’ll definitely put a big boost in whatever lineup he is traded to, and could help carry that team in a deep playoff run.
5.) NL West is very undecided.
The NL West it probably the most competitive division in baseball right now. No team, except for The Padres, are out of the race. While The Dodgers lead the division, it’s only a .5 lead over The Diamondbacks, who could make a few trades to help push them over the top. However, The Rockies are only 2 games behind The Dodgers, and their rival, The Giants are only 4 games out of division contention. It may come down to whoever made the best deals at the deadline to decide who wins the division.
6.) Mariners vs Athletics: Who takes the second AL Wild Card spot?
It’s pretty decided that it’ll be either The Red Sox or Yankees who take the first wildcard spot. But the 2nd spot doesn’t have a clear winner. The Mariners are currently in the lead, but only by 3 games. The other team: division rival The Athletics. The A’s have a very good, and young team. One that could make a playoff spot. However, The Mariners are just as good. The A’s may need more starting pitching behind Manea, but The Mariners could use some players to back-up James Paxton. Like The NL West, it could come down to whoever makes the best deals at the deadline.
7.) AL MVP: Who takes home the trophy?
AL MVP is gonna be a fun race to watch. It’s easy to say that Mike Trout should get it, and while he may be the favorite to receive the award, it’s his to lose, and with so much competition, it’s easy to see why he could lose it. Mookie Betts is having an outstanding year, and could be a 30/30 guy with a .350+ average. His OPS also leads The AL. Jose Ramirez is almost a certain 30/30 guy with an OPS of 1.000+ as well. New Red Sox slugger JD Martinez has a chance to win The Triple Crown. He currently leads the league in long balls, RBI’s, and is .031 points behind Mookie Betts for the league lead. Even then, Aaron Judge, Francisco Lindor, Giancarlo Stanton, or 2017 MVP Jose Altuve could get on a hot streak, and force themselves into MVP talks.
With so many storylines that could completely unfold post ASG break, it’s clear to see why the second half is the most exciting time to be a baseball fan. As we head down the stretch of the rest of the season, it’ll be fun to see all the playoff races, and award races that will take place between now, and the end of the season.