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Angels center fielder Mike Trout had an impressive first half of 2019. Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

What exceptional MLB individual seasons could look like in 2020

nb游戏平台Baseball is a numbers game. We can judge a player's value -- at least in part -- with a quick glance at how many homers he mashed or batters he whiffed. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we're only likely to get a half-season's worth of games in 2020, though, which will throw our beloved numbers off-kilter. What does a great half-season look like? Here is a 26-man roster of the best half-seasons from last season.

Starting lineup

  • CF Mike Trout (Angels), 1st half: Let's begin with the best player in the game. Trout's 28 home runs, 76 walks, .453 on- base percentage, and 183 wRC+ -- -- led the AL in the first half, laying the groundwork for his third MVP...
  • 3B Alex Bregman (Astros), 2nd half: ... However, Bregman almost usurped Trout for the award with an otherworldly second half, garnering 13 first-place MVP votes out of 30. His .363 on-base percentage and 197 wRC+ were the best in the majors in either half-season.
  • RF Cody Bellinger (Dodgers), 1st half: The "Best Player in the NL" battle was neck-and-neck between Bellinger and Christian Yelich right up until a broken kneecap ended Yelich's season a few weeks early. Bellinger slashed .336/.432/.692 with 30 home runs in the first half.
  • DH Nelson Cruz (Twins), 2nd half: Cruz didn't use his glove even once in 2019, and produced the best offensive season of his career. Even though he turned 39 on July 1, he led MLB with a 1.147 OPS in the second half -- roughly 100 points higher than Barry Bonds' career mark.
  • LF Christian Yelich (Brewers), 1st half: We're cheating a little bit to get Yelich and Bellinger both in the lineup, as Yelich only played a handful of games in left field. With a league-leading 31 home runs and 1.140 OPS in the first half, we just couldn't leave him out. He homered on 34.1% of his fly balls before the All-Star break.
  • SS Marcus Semien (A's), 2nd half: Semien was one of the breakout stars of 2019, playing shortstop for nearly every inning of the Athletics' season. He compiled a 167 wRC+ in the second half, leading all shortstops.
  • 2B Ketel Marte (Diamondbacks), 2nd half: More light cheating --- Marte spent more time in the outfield than the infield. Since his MLB debut in 2015, his home run totals by season have risen exponentially: 2, 1, 5, 14, and 32. His .358 second-half batting average led the majors.
  • 1B Pete Alonso (Mets), 1st half: The NL Rookie of the Year broke the rookie and Mets franchise season records for home runs with 53, largely thanks to 30 in the first half.
  • C Mitch Garver (Twins), 1st half: Completely out of nowhere, Garver blasted 31 bombs in just 359 plate appearance, helping the Twins set an MLB record with 307 in a season. His .295/.375/.609 slash line in before the All-Star break was as big a clue as any that the baseball was a little different than in previous years.

Padres infielder Fernando Tatis Jr.  Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Bench

  • C Yasmani Grandal (Padres), 1st half: When a catcher leads the team in games played and plate appearances, you know he's 1.) a great player, and 2.) an upcoming free agent. Grandal's first-half 14.7% walk rate, 19 home runs, and elite defense prove he's the best all-around catcher in baseball.
  • OF George Springer (Astros), 2nd half: Other outfielders might have been slightly better hitters in the second half, such as Yordan Álvarez and Jorge Soler, but Springer's quality defense more than makes up the difference. Springer hit 21 dingers and drove in 50 runs in second half.
  • 3B Eugenio Suárez (Reds), 2nd half: Suárez's 29 home runs in the second half led the majors. No one else in the NL smacked more than 23. He also led the senior circuit with a .684 second-half slugging percentage.
  • SS Fernando Tatís, Jr. (Padres), 1st half: The Rookie of the Year battle between Tatis and Alonso was supposed to be one for ages until the Padres shortstop of the future hurt his back in August. Despite missing May with a hamstring strain, he earned a place on this roster by slashing .327/.393/.620 with a 161 wRC+ through the first half.

Nationals starter Max Scherzer Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Starting Rotation

  1. RHP Max Scherzer (Nationals), 1st half: Mad Max was by far the No. 1 pitcher in baseball in the first half, striking out 181 before the All-Star break. His 30.7% strikeouts-walks rate was the best in the game, and his workload of 129.1 innings led the NL.
  2. RHP Justin Verlander (Astros), 2nd half: Verlander cemented his second Cy Young eight years after his first thanks to an outstanding second half. He fanned 40.7% of batters, allowing just 78 baserunners in 96.1 innings.
  3. RHP Gerrit Cole, 2nd half (Yankees): Cole was arguably better than Verlander in the second half, and nearly snagged the Cy Young from his Astros teammate. His 44.1% strikeout rate was the best in a half-season by any starting pitcher in history. (Verlander's was second best.)
  4. RHP Jack Flaherty (Cardinals), 2nd half: Flaherty's second half would've made 1968 Bob Gibson jealous. He posted a 0.91 ERA, limiting hitters to a .142/.208/.217 slash line.
  5. RHP Jacob deGrom (Mets), 2nd half: Scherzer's injuries cracked open the door for deGrom's second consecutive Cy Young. He surrendered only five second-half home runs in 94 innings, leading to an NL best 2.12 FIP. (See here for definition.)

Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman  Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bullpen

  • LHP Aroldis Chapman (Yankees), 1st half: Baseball's most prolific flamethrowing closer might just be the greatest lefty reliever. He certainly padded his resume last year with 50 strikeouts in 34.2 first- half innings, allowing only one home run.
  • RHP Ken Giles (Blue Jays), 1st half: Giles missed two weeks in June with a minor elbow ailment, but was otherwise nearly unhittable. He went more than two months without giving up a run from April 18-June 20 (though the brief IL stint was included therein).
  • LHP Brad Hand (Indians), 1st half: Despite only a 20% ground ball rate -- second lowest in MLB among first half relievers --, Hand gave up just two dingers in 37.1 innings. 
  • RHP Liam Hendriks (Athletics), 2nd half: Hendriks abandoned his sinker last year and became the best reliever in the majors, leading the major leagues with 3.8 . His 1.59 FIP in the second half was second in MLB.
  • RHP Seth Lugo (Mets), 2nd half: Lugo faced 132 batters in the second half, but gave up just a pair of home runs and a trio of walks. .
  • RHP Brandon Workman (Red Sox), 2nd half: 2019 was a tough year to be a pitcher, with seemingly every ball in the air leaving the yard. Despite pitching in hitter-friendly Fenway Park, Workman surrendered only one long ball all season.
  • RHP Kirby Yates (Padres), 1st half: The second best FIP () by a half-season reliever was Yates' 1.39 in the first half. This was topped only by...
  • RHP Kirby Yates, 2nd half: ...Yates' 1.14 FIP in the second half! For the season, he posted a 1.19 ERA, 1.30 FIP, and 3.4 fWAR in 60.2 innings.

Daniel R. Epstein is a teacher, union president, musician, and baseball writer. In addition to Yardbarker, his work appears at Baseball.FYI, Baseball Prospectus, The Hardball Times, Off the Bench, and elsewhere. Tweets .


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