July 10, 2017
What to Expect After the Break
The All-Star break gives us a few days off from the daily drumbeat of baseball, an opportunity to take stock of what’s happened so far and assess how the rest of the season is likely to play out. Can the surprising Brewers continue their improbable run, or will the disappointing Cubs finally come to life? Will the Astros and Dodgers give us the first pair of 100-win teams since 2004, and can they play deep into October? Will Mike Trout resume his MVP trajectory? Will Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger lead their leagues in home runs as rookies? Will MLB come clean about the ball being juiced?
I have no idea. But I have compiled of list of things that are at least likely to occur.
Here’s what I did. Using the Baseball-Reference Play Index Split Finder, I looked at the first- and second-half splits for every team in every season since the 30-team era began in 1998. That gave me 19 seasons of data for the majors as a whole, and 570 team seasons. Then I looked for disparities between the first and second halves of the season (with "half" defined as before and after the All-Star break). For example, in 10 of the 19 seasons (53 percent), the batting average was higher in the second half of the season than in the first, and this was true for 293 of the 570 teams (51 percent). I looked for metrics that were noticeably different between the two halves.