By Fred Mitchell
By all accounts, the second half of the 2012 baseball season should shape up to be fascinating from both a team and individual player standpoint.
The surprises of the National League have been the Pittsburgh Pirates, who lead the NL Central and the Washington Nationals, first in the East.
Andrew McCutcheon (.362 avg., 18 homers), an unlikely slugger, is a mid-season MVP candidate along with the Reds’ Joey Votto (.348, 14).
In the American League, the Chicago White Sox under first-year manager Robin Ventura have upstaged the preseason favorite Detroit Tigers thus far. And the Baltimore Orioles have done well to hang in the race in the AL East, where the Yankees are currently the class of the division.
Texas slugger Josh Hamilton (.308, 27 )and Angels rookie sensation Mike Trout (.341, 12) are keeping their clubs rolling in the opening half of the year.
Pitchers R.A. Dickey (12-1, 2.40 earned run average) for the Mets and Chris Sale (10-2, 2.19) of the White Sox are pleasant surprises for their ballclubs.
With the added wildcards in each league this season for the playoffs, interest should remain high in most cities throughout the otherwise dog days of August and early September.