MLB Second Half Preview

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Víctor Martínez has nearly as many home runs (21) as strikeouts (23) for the first place Detroit Tigers

The 2014 All-Star break is over and regular season baseball continues Friday night.

Here are a few of the top statistical storylines for the second half of the season.

Can Victor Martinez finish with more HR than K?

Víctor Martínez has 21 home runs and 23 strikeouts on the year. If Martínez finishes the season with more home runs than strikeouts, he would be the first qualified player to accomplish that feat since Barry Bonds in 2004 (45 HR, 41 K). George Brett’s 1980 season is the only other one since 1960 with more home runs than strikeouts (24 HR, 22 K).

For more recent context, 11 other players have hit 20 or more home runs in 2014. The average strikeout total among those players is 74. Giancarlo Stanton has the same number of home runs as Martínez but 82 more strikeouts (105).

National League Cy Young race

The debate over who should start for the National League in the All-Star game was settled when manager Mike Matheny chose Adam Wainwright over Clayton Kershaw.

2014 NL Cy Young Candidates

But if Kershaw’s last eight starts are any indication (8-0 with a 0.74 ERA), the race for the NL Cy Young award is just heating up.

The chart on the right shows how close the race has been to this point. Among the 114 pitchers who have made at least 14 starts, Kershaw and Wainwright each rank in the top-5 in ERA, WHIP and opponent OPS.

American League rookies chasing history

Jose Abreu leads all of baseball in home runs with 29 entering the second half. George Springer has 19 home runs since being called up two weeks into the season by the Houston Astros.

The only rookie to hit 40 home runs in a season was Mark McGwire, who set the rookie record with 49 in 1987.

O’s and A’s in first place

The Baltimore Orioles are in first place at the All-Star break for just the second time in the last 25 seasons. The last time was 1997 when the O’s went on to win the AL East and lose in the ALCS.

The Oakland Athletics have the best record in Major League Baseball at the All-Star break for the second time in franchise history. The only other time was 1988. The A’s lost 4-1 to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series that year.