5 Hot Teams Who Could Blow Up the 2nd Half of the MLB Season

With half the baseball season behind us, what teams could put on a playoff push in the second half? Mmost of the divisions are in tight races, so don’t expect to see lots of selling off of good players, although the addition of a quality pitcher or impactful hitter could make the difference for several teams.

With the exception of the National League East, where the Atlanta Braves lead the Miami Marlins by 8.5 games, all the other divisions are up for grabs. Teams are within two games or less of the division lead. So what teams could grab a playoff spot if they get hot? Here are five possibilities in this fascinating MLB season.

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Baltimore Continues Winning Ways

When the Tampa Bay Rays started the season with a record 13-game winning streak, they vaulted ahead of their division rivals, the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, and the Boston Red Sox. No one believed that the Baltimore Orioles would continue their winning ways from 2022, but that’s exactly what they’ve done.

At the All-Star break, the O’s were just two games behind the Rays and coming on fast. Baltimore was a bad team for so long, they were able to grab the top draft choices for many years, so players like Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg, and most recently Colton Cowser, have transformed the team from a doormat to a contender. Look for the O’s to continue their hot streak and challenge Tampa Bay for the top spot in the AL East.

Dodgers Coming on Strong

It might seem like a “duh” moment when we add the Los Angeles Dodgers to this list, a team that has won the NL West for nine of the past 10 seasons. The Arizona Diamondbacks have dominated the division in the first half of the season, while the Dodgers endured a difficult May and June, falling out of first and dropping as much as four games behind the Dbacks.

But a recent surge has them tied for first with Arizona at the break, and the cream is rising to the top. With a lineup that includes Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, Will Smith, and former Red Sox (and Dbacks) player J.D. Martinez, the Dodgers seem poised to take over the division, if they can navigate the loss of 11 starters to the Injured List, including Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, and Dustin May.

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Mets Try to Overcome Disappointing First Half   

Probably one of the most disappointing teams in 2023 has been the New York Mets. New owner Steve Cohen opened his checkbook in the off-season and brought in players like veteran Justin Verlander (2 years, $85 million) and Japanese pitcher Kodai Senga (5 years, $75 million) and resigned Edwin Diaz (5 years, $102 million) and Brandon Nimmo (8 years, $162 million). But the injury bug hit hard and underperforming players saw the team sink from four games out in early May to almost 20 games behind the Braves.

The Mets are probably too far gone now to even make the playoffs, but with most star players healthy they could make the second half interesting.

Astros Battling for AL Central

 Another unlikely team to make this list is the Houston Astros. They’ve won five of the last six AL Central championships and were easily the favorite going into the season. But the buzzsaw that is the Texas Rangers intervened. The Astros dropped as far as six games behind the Rangers but closed that gap to two games at the break. Texas, however, isn’t going anywhere.

Despite losing the best pitcher in baseball, Jacob deGrom, the Rangers have finally put it together offensively. With Corey Seager and Marcus Simeon having great seasons and Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Josh Jung at third, Texas will continue to be a contender. But Houston is coming on with Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker slugging homers, and José Abreau on the comeback trail, it should be a great battle for the AL Central title.

Reds Surprise Team

One of the surprise teams of 2023 are the Cincinnati Reds, who were expected to do better this year, but not contend for the NL Central title. Cellar-dwellers for the past dozen years, the current crop of Reds brings memories of the Big Red Machine that dominated during the 1970s.

This crop of misfits finally began putting it together early in the year and then busted out completely when Elly De La Cruz made his debut in May. The electric player used speed—and a genuine love of the game to transform the team. Now with a small lead over the Brewers, the Reds should continue to win with veteran Joey Votto, dependable closer Alex Diaz, fireballing starter Hunter Greene, and catcher Tyler Stephenson leading the way.

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History Playbook

On This Day In Sports

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On This Day In Sports

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