The Major League Baseball All-Star break provides a great opportunity for teams to rest, sit back, and reassess where they stand. Some teams know they’re out of it. Some know they’re performing a little above expectation and will have to work very hard to keep it up.
Then there are the teams who feel that they can do even more. Perhaps they had good, but not great first halves. Perhaps they were outright disappointments. They know, deep down, though, that they have the talent to do even better than they did — and will be looking to kick things into high gear once the second half starts.
Here are four teams that may well get hot in the second half.
4) Texas Rangers
It is far too late for the Rangers to catch the Houston Astros in the American League West, but if they play their cards right, they definitely have a chance to make an impact on the wild card race. There is a lot of talent here, and even some evidence that their 43-45 first half record is a bit unlucky.
Texas has been middling in all departments, but injuries have had a huge impact on their fortunes. On the pitching side of things, ace lefty Cole Hamels has made just eight starts due to an oblique injury. Hamels is 4-0 and his replacements haven’t really been able to hack it in the Texas rotation. A healthy Hamels, paired with Yu Darvish and a solid Andrew Cashner, would make the Rangers significantly better every fifth day — assuming Texas doesn’t elect to blow it up.
There are also indications that the Rangers are beginning to get their struggling bullpen in better shape. They’ve never been able to settle on a closer, but Matt Bush, Alex Claudio, and Keone Kela are capable of giving this team good relief innings.
Surprisingly, the Texas offense has been a real problem, sitting 14th in the American League in batting average at the break, making up for the deficiency with some power. Still, it’s easy to imagine how much better they’d be if they had some guys on base for those extra base hits, as Elvis Andrus is the team’s only .300 hitter. Adrian Beltre has appeared in just 35 games due to injury, and if they can keep him healthy, that will be a major improvement in itself. If the likes of Rougned Odor and Jonathan Lucroy can pick up their offensive numbers a bit, do not be surprised to see this team make a run.
3) Boston Red Sox