Discussion

Which teams are real, frauds?

A look at which contenders will surge and which will fall off

Updated: July 19, 2013, 1:45 PM ET
By Dan Szymborski | ESPN Insider

Baseball's unofficial second half finally begins Friday night, a thankful return after a four-day stretch featuring just a single game of Major League Baseball. Teams have spent three and a half months tearing up what all the various projections and pundits had to say in April, a practice that will persist until October.

But even with half the season done -- from a mathematical standpoint, more than half -- the big 2013 storylines we've been following aren't set in permanent ink. Some teams having disappointing seasons will look much fonder on 2013 than they would right now, and some will go the way of the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates or 2011 Boston Red Sox. The teams below are my favorites to rewrite the book, both positively and negatively.

Given how dangerous it is to predict the future a second time, risking being wrong twice, I've also asked the ZiPS projection system to give the updated rest-of-season standings and projected final standings for all 30 teams (see table). After all, if one of the teams doesn't cooperate with my prognostication, I'm going to need a scapegoat.

Pessimistic

New York Yankees (51-44)

You might say that this is needless given that nobody's been exactly gushing about this year's Yankees, but the team has still managed to put together a respectable win-loss record through 95 games. But even this limited success is precarious. The reason the Yankees have a poor offense going forward is the team is still old, has little major league depth offensively and is still missing its key contributors from recent years.

Curtis Granderson should be back, but he's only one player and the Yankees are several short of having a potent offense. Even GM Brian Cashman's friends staging an intervention to cure Cashman of his habit of not releasing Vernon Wells won't be enough to turn on the run spigot.

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