By Thom Henninger

It’s not too late for a young player to make a case for Rookie of the Year honors. That’s what Philadelphia prospect Ryan Howard did in the second half of the 2005 season. He joined the big league roster for good in July and claimed NL rookie honors by batting .288/.356/.567 with 22 home runs and 63 RBIs in just 88 games.

If getting off to a solid start after the All-Star Game can stir a second-half push for Rookie of the Year consideration, there are three rookies worth watching down the stretch.
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By Thom Henninger

No division leader had more than a 4.5-game edge when the second half began on Thursday. It marked the first time under the six-division alignment that no first-place club had a lead of five games or more at the All-Star break.

The last time every second-place club was within five games out of the top spot at the break was 1992, when the largest lead in the four divisions was 4.5 games by the NL East-leading Pittsburgh Pirates. That season marked the last time the Pirates posted a winning record and their last division title.
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By Thom Henninger

The All-Star Game rosters have been announced, generating the usual debate as to which selections were worthy, which were suspect, and who was unfairly overlooked. The significance of who makes the rosters can’t be underestimated since the tie in the 2002 contest, which led to the overreaction of having the Midsummer Classic determine which league has home-field advantage in the World Series. [click to continue…]

By Jeremy Tiermini

Before we get to my pick for the Bust of the Year at shortstop so far this season, I wanted to take a minute to encourage everyone to go see a game at Citizens Bank Ballpark, if you ever have the opportunity. I spent part of my vacation last week in Philadelphia for the National Meeting and Convention for the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and I was able to take my family to see the Phillies play the Indians in the first game of their interleague series. [click to continue…]

By Thom Henninger

When Diamondbacks right-hander Edwin Jackson tossed a no-hitter against the Rays last Friday, it was the 25th 1-0 victory in the major leagues this season. And it was at least the fourth no-no of the first half.

You have to go back to 1992 for the last time there were as many 1-0 games through the same date as Jackson’s eight-walk masterpiece. That’s going back to the year prior to the first of two rounds of expansion, which bumped up scoring and ERAs for the next decade.
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By Thom Henninger

The way 2009 NL Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan struggled in the early going, you’ll have to forgive me if seeing the Marlin on television inspired thoughts of Pat Listach, the Milwaukee Brewer rookie who emerged as the1992 award winner in the American League and never again approached his first-year success.

That’s not exactly fair to Coghlan, who seemingly came out of nowhere to claim National League honors last season. It did seem conceivable, however, that the 25-year-old Coghlan, who has moved from second base to left field this season, might slip away as quickly as he appeared.
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By Thom Henninger

Philadelphia lefty Jamie Moyer allowed his record-breaking 506th home run to Toronto’s Vernon Wells on Sunday, surpassing long-time Phillie and Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts. He tops a leader board loaded with Hall of Famers who had long, distinguished careers.
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By Thom Henninger

Quick: which major league shortstop has the most home runs in 2010? It’s not Hanley Ramirez or Jimmy Rollins, but Toronto’s Alex Gonzalez with 14.

The leader among shortstops in runs? It’s not Rollins, Ramirez, Jose Reyes or Derek Jeter. It’s the Rangers’ budding star, Elvis Andrus, who ranks among the American League top 10 with 51 runs scored. And the leader in RBIs? How about the Giants’ Juan Uribe with 45.
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By Thom Henninger

St. Louis rookie Jaime Garcia has been one of the best starting pitchers in the game, posting a 1.59 ERA that ranks second in the majors. He has yet to allow more than two earned runs in a start through his first 13 outings this spring, and not even the game’s best pitcher, Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez, can say that. In fact, no ERA qualifier can.

The 23-year-old southpaw has been a remarkable story after missing most of 2009 following Tommy John surgery. He made an impressive return late in the season with Triple-A Memphis, aiding the Redbirds’ push to the Pacific Coast League championship with a solid playoff performance. Then he built on that success by securing a spot in the St. Louis rotation this spring in Florida.
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By Jeremy Tiermini

Position scarcity: it is perhaps the most uttered phrase as owners prepare for fantasy drafts. Questions revolve around “Who should I draft in this spot?” and the answer always seems to come back to position scarcity. The second base position was perhaps the most shallow position, with the exception of catcher, heading into fantasy baseball Draft Day for the 2010 season. [click to continue…]