The Most Exciting MLB Storylines for the Remaining Season
Believe it or not, there are only 6 ½ weeks left in the major league baseball season until the playoffs are here. It’s a long season, no doubt, but it seems to go by very quickly every year, especially after the All-Star break. With just a month and a half left, I decided to take a look at the most exciting storylines for baseball fans to keep an eye on until we get to the much anticipated postseason. In no particular order, here they are:
NL Wildcard Race
The wildcard race is always interesting, especially since we have two wildcard spots now with a one-game playoff between them. There’s no exception this year with either league’s wildcard spots, but the NL’s is especially intriguing. Currently the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals hold the two wildcard spots, but hot on their heels are six teams within 6.5 games. They are the Brewers, Mets, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Giants, and the Reds.
The thing that really makes this race so interesting is the jumbled up NL East and NL Central divisions. The Braves lead the East by six games (which certainly isn’t a safe lead) and are followed by the Nationals, Mets, and Phillies who are all within three games of each other. All three of those teams are very good, with talent to take them on a big run. But then you have the NL Central, which is jumbled up even more. With only one team capable of coming out on top of it, there’s three other teams that will all be fighting with the East squads for a wild card spot. It seems most likely the Cubs, Cardinals, or Brewers will win the division, with the other two fighting with the East’s 2nd place team to clinch a playoff berth. Then again, you can’t forget about the Cardinals or Giants in the West who are only 2.5 and 3.5 games back.
NL Central Race
We knew this would be a very exciting race before the year started and it has lived up to every bit of it. All season long it has seemed like the division leader has flip-flopped between the Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers, and currently those three teams are within only 2.5 games of each with the Cubs leading. A lot of people forget about Cincinnati as well, but they are just 7.5 games out and with a lot of games remaining against divisional opponents, anything could happen.
At the All-Star break, every team in this division was within 5 games of each other, but the Pirates have since fallen off. As I’ve previously stated, the NL Wild Card race is going to be very competitive, which makes winning this division even more important. The Cubs and the Cardinals being big-time rivals also adds fuel to the fire, while the Brewers are out to prove they belong like they did last year.
I could have said the AL Central race, but the “Twins/Indians Race” is more accurate. The White Sox are in third place in the division, and they are 18.5 back. So them, the Royals, and the Tigers have long been out of the picture. But let’s talk about the top two teams. Earlier in the season, Minnesota was one of the hottest teams in the game and built up a 10-11 game lead in the AL Central. The Indians were struggling to play up to their potential and I actually thought the division race was over.
But the Indians have proved me wrong. They have been as hot as anybody in the 2nd half and have come all the way back to make this the most interesting two-team battle for the rest of the season. Currently they are a half game back of the Twins. With just six games left against Minnesota (three at home/three on the road), things are about to get very exciting. Just imagine how much fun those six games will be to watch. You can guarantee they will all have a playoff atmosphere about them.
The Home Run Race
Every year usually provides fans a good home run race and this year is no different. The first thing to watch for is who will hit the most home runs. Cody Bellinger, Mike Trout, Christian Yelich, and Pete Alonso have more or less separated themselves from the rest of the league and one of them will most likely take home the home run crown. The second thing to watch for is anybody reaching 50 total home runs. Bellinger, Trout, and Yelich all have 39, while Pete Alonso has 38. Only once in the last five years has someone hit at least 50 home runs in a season, and that was in 2017 when Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 with the Marlins and Aaron Judge hit 52 with the Yankees.
Speaking of Aaron Judge, that brings me to my last thing to watch for in the home run race: Pete Alonso’s total. When Judge hit 52 home runs in 2017, he was a rookie and broke the previous rookie HR record in a single season by Mark McGwire in 1987 (49 home runs). Alonso is in his rookie season and has a real chance to not only hit the 50-mark, but break the single-season record for home runs by a rookie.