The trade deadline is poised to dominate the headlines as the second half of the Major League season kicks off, but we mustn’t forget all the history we witnessed before the All-Star break – and what’s in store for the season. final stretch.
Between Jacob deGrom, Shohei Ohtani, Dominicans Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. and many more, MLB stars are poised to do amazing things in 2021. Here are 10 records up for grabs down the stretch.
1) deGrom vs. Gibson
The objective: The best qualified EFE in the Era of the Living Ball
deGrom begins the second half with a microscopic 1.08 ERA, behind only Bob Gibson (1.06, 1968) for the best ERA of any American or National League pitcher before the All-Star break (minimum of 80 innings worked) . deGrom, of course, seeks to break Gibson’s record for best rated ERA of any pitcher in the Live Ball Era (1.12 ERA in 1968).
Dutch Leonard’s EFE LA / LN record in the Modern Era, 0.96, set in 1914, remains within deGrom’s grasp as well.
2) Ohtani imita a Ruth
The goal: 60 home runs
Let’s put aside the insanity that Ohtani ranks among the best hitters and pitchers in the major leagues at the same time. In the history of the American and National Leagues, that puts him in the company of Babe Ruth and no one else. (The Cuban Martín Dihigo shone in that sense in the Negro Leagues) As the season progresses, Ohtani surpasses more and more what Ruth did between 1918 and 1919.
Ohtani’s struggle to accomplish feats we haven’t seen since the Steroid Era goes beyond 60 home runs. His 9.1 at-bats per home run average is the best right now of any batter in the American League or National not named Ruth, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire or Sammy Sammy. (If you count Josh Gibson’s 7.8 at-bats in the Negro Leagues in 1937, it’s a real party.) Ohtani is also on track to hit 102 extra-base hits, making him his first with a triple-digit extra-base total since Bonds. , Sosa, Cuban Luis González and Todd Helton in 2001.
3) Tatis’s combination of power and speed
The goal: NL crowns in home runs and stolen bases
With his 28 homers and 20 stolen bases in the first half, Tatis is on the way for a 40-40 season, which is rare. But he could accomplish an even more historic feat: The Dominican is looking to become the first American or National League player to lead his league in homers and stolen bases since Hall of Fame Chuck Klein did so in 1932. Only two other players Modern Era as well as Klein – Ty Cobb (1909) and Jimmy Sheckard (1903) – have achieved that combination of power and speed, and both were active in an era very different from today. In fact, Matt Kemp is the only recent player to flirt with that record when he led the Old Circuit in home runs and finished tied for second in ripping off in 2011.
Tatis could still catch Ohtani (33 home runs) and Whit Merrifield (24 stolen bases), so we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that he will join Cobb as just the second American or National Leagues player to top the majors in both. categories.
4) Vlad Jr. goes for the Triple Crown
The Goal: First Triple Crown in LA since Miguel Cabrera (2012)
Guerrero Jr. enters the second half leading the majors in average (.332) and RBIs (73), while being tied with Tatis for second in home runs behind Ohtani (33).
In the American League, Vlad Jr. has a six-point lead over Houston’s Michael Brantley in batting average and leads Boston’s Rafael Devers by just one RBI.
And there is more history involved: Guerrero, 22, could supplant Cobb (1909) as the youngest player to achieve a Triple Crown in the American or National League.
5) The Renaissance of Craig Kimbrel
The Goal: Best ERA for a reliever in a season
Remember when Craig Kimbrel was in the free agent market for eight months and then had a 6.00 ERA in his first season and a half with the Cubs?
If that’s the most recent memory you have of Kimbrel, you have to see what she’s up to this season. To say that Kimbrel is enjoying a rebirth is an understatement: He leads the majors with a 0.57 ERA, which means he could break Zack Britton’s record for a reliever ERA in a Modern Era season (0.54, 2016). ) for a pitcher with at least 50.0 innings worked. Now, it remains to be seen which team Kimbrel will go with after that record. His contract includes an option for 2022, making it perhaps the most valuable trade token Chicago has heading into the July 30 trade deadline.
6) Bo Bichette: The “perfect” thief
The goal: 100% stolen bases rate
You probably associate Bichette with his bat, but the shortstop has also made his mark on the bases, going 12-12 in attempts to steal bases. Bichette is already the only player this season to have had a 100% success rate (minimum 10 attempts), so it remains to be seen if he will be able to join a small club.
Since the Wild Card Era began in 1995, only three players have finished with 20 stolen bases and a perfect success rate in that regard: Alcides Escobar (2013), Quintin Berry (2012) and Chase Utley (2009). Going back to when Jackie Robinson broke the major league racial barrier in 1947, only two American and National Leagues players have had a perfect 20-20 or better on stolen bases: Paul Molitor (1994) and Kevin McReynolds (1988).
7) Miggy’s March to 500
_The goal: 500 lifetime home runs _
Miguel Cabrera reached 2021 needing 13 home runs to become the 28th member of the 500-homer club, but he only hit seven homers in the first half (.348 slugging), so he could be against the clock to reach that number round this year.
Cabrera lost two weeks in April after suffering from a sore left bicep that has knocked him out of action in the past, and that may continue to hamper his swing. However, he will face teams with loose mountainous bodies like the Twins, Orioles, Royals and Rangers, which could help Miggy get the six homers he needs to become the first Venezuelan player with 500 home runs in the majors.
** 8) Zunino and Grandal try to redefine the “Mendoza Line” **
_The goal: OPS + of 100 or better and average below .200 _
No hitter wants to flirt with the “Mendoza Line” (.200 average), but catchers Mike Zunino and Cuban Yasmani Grandal try to take advantage of it. Zunino (who hit the second floor in the All-Star Game) and Grandal (who was an All-Star candidate before suffering a left knee tear) have combined those averages with so many walks and so much power that, When you compare their lines to those of other major leagues, they have been above-average hitters.
Zunino starts the second half with an OPS + of 128, while Grandal (who would return to action in September), has an OPS + of 130. Neither receiver has stepped up to qualify for the batting title, but when we look at the 203 seasons Of American and National League hitters with a minimum of 300 plate appearances and an average below .200, only three finished with an above-average OPS +: Roger Repoz (108, 1971), Mark McGwire (105, 2001) ) and the Dominican Carlos Peña (103, 2010).
Zunino and Grandal would rather land more hits, but they are on the way to surpassing those three players and becoming the most productive sub-.200 hitters of all time. That would be a nice consolation prize.
9) The timely moves of the Giants tokens
The Goal: A team’s pinch hitter HR record
San Francisco leads the majors with 184 at-bats from pinch hitters and Gabe Kapler has called two or three of them off the bench in the same inning.
With opposing teams managing to react to all those changes, the Giants’ pinch hitters have already hit nine homers. That number leads the majors and puts San Francisco in a position to break the record of 17 home runs in that situation, set by the 2016 Cardinals. If you are looking for a reason why San Francisco had the best record in the majors in the first half Let’s start with its depth.
10) You have to see Rodolfo Castro
The goal: HR for his first four hits in GL
This one won’t be long, so be sure to keep an eye out for the Pirates infielder Rodolfo Castro’s turns as the Buccaneers return to action. Castro, a 22-year-old prospect, hit a pinch homer last Friday against the Mets for his first hit in the majors. Castro started Sunday and his two hits of the day were also home runs. The Dominican became the first Pirates player whose first three hits in the majors are home runs and the first to achieve such a feat in the Big Top since Kyle Higashioka in 2018.
Now, here’s where this story gets interesting: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Trevor Story (2016) is the only player from the Moderate Era in the LA / LN whose first four hits in the majors have been home runs. That means the next balls Castro brings into play will have meaning. If the next one is a single, double or triple, Castro’s streak will be forgotten. But if it’s a home run, Story will have company.