A first half to remember—or forget—for these MLB players and teams

Colorado Rockies: most wins prior to the All-Star break, Rockies franchise history

When it could happen: June 23-25 (vs. Los Angeles Dodgers)

Last week’s edition of the watchlist pointed out that the Rockies have rarely dominated for an extended period, never winning an NL West title or even holding a significant lead in the division. Again in 2017, they’ve had trouble creating separation, but it’s still shaping up to be their finest first half ever. Entering this week with a 46-26 record, these Rockies trail only the 2003, 2010 and 2009 teams (50, 49 and 47 pre-All-Star break wins, respectively). By simply playing at a .500 level for the remainder of the season, Colorado would finish at 91-71. In every year since adopting the double Wild Card format in 2012, there’s been a National League postseason qualifier with 90 wins or fewer.

Tampa Bay Rays: most home runs prior to the All-Star break, Rays franchise history

When it could happen: June 23-25 (vs. Baltimore Orioles)

Home runs are more prevalent in today’s game than they’ve ever been before (unless you’re the San Francisco Giants—they were left out of the league-wide group text on this topic, apparently). But with Evan Longoria in the midst of one of his worst offensive seasons and Brad Miller and Wilson Ramos combining for only two home runs, you’d suspect that Tampa Bay is bringing up the rear in this category…and you’d be dead wrong. By expanding roles for several all-or-nothing sluggers (and tolerating the constant whiffing), the Rays have clobbered 109 home runs already. If Longoria, Miller and Ramos can produce as expected during the second half, they’ll be a legitimate contender in the wide-open American League.

Miguel Sano (Minnesota Twins): most strikeouts prior to the All-Star break, Twins franchise history

When it could happen: any game this week

Sano deserves better than this—he is the best position player on a club that occupied first place in the AL Central until this past weekend. The 24-year-old’s production has been borderline #ASGWorthy, plus he’s earning plenty of style points along the way. Sano is a threat to go deep to all fields, while topping Aaron Judge and every other MLB regular this season with an average exit velocity of 96.4 mph on balls put in play. Although a 35.0 strikeout rate is far worse than league average, it actually represents a slight improvement from where he was the previous two campaigns. At 92 strikeouts, Sano is only a golden sombrero away from matching Carlos Gomez (96 K in 2008) in the Twins record books.

Masahiro Tanaka (New York Yankees): most home runs allowed prior to the All-Star break, Yankees franchise history

When it could happen: June 23 (vs. Texas Rangers)

The pitchers most victimized by the MLB power surge include the definitely-washed-up Bronson Arroyo and the probably-washed-up Bartolo Colon and Jered Weaver. But Tanaka? He was a fringe AL Cy Young candidate in 2016! The Japanese right-hander didn’t allow more than 25 homers in any previous season, but he’s now on track to surpass that by the All-Star break, which would break Dennis Rasmussen‘s 30-year-old franchise record. The Yankees spend this week at home, where Tanaka struggles most with the long ball (49 of 83 career home runs allowed at Yankee Stadium). His next opponent, the Rangers, finally have all of their most powerful bats healthy heading into Friday’s matchup.

Pending MLB milestones featured in previous weeks

  • Daniel Murphy (Washington Nationals): .300 career batting average
  • Jose Reyes (New York Mets): 500 career stolen bases

Featured image: 2016 Topps Now #108, Miguel Sano