Baseball is a numbers game. We can judge a player's value -- at least in part -- with a quick glance at how many homers he mashed or batters he whiffed. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we're only likely to get a half-season's worth of games in 2020, though, which will throw our beloved numbers off-kilter. What does a great half-season look like? Here is a 26-man roster of the best half-seasons from last season.
- CF Mike Trout (Angels), 1st half: Let's begin with the best player in the game. Trout's 28 home runs, 76 walks, .453 on- base percentage, and 183 wRC+ -- see here for definition -- led the AL in the first half, laying the groundwork for his third MVP...
- 3B Alex Bregman (Astros), 2nd half: ... However, Bregman almost usurped Trout for the award with an otherworldly second half, garnering 13 first-place MVP votes out of 30. His .363 on-base percentage and 197 wRC+ were the best in the majors in either half-season.
- RF Cody Bellinger (Dodgers), 1st half: The "Best Player in the NL" battle was neck-and-neck between Bellinger and Christian Yelich right up until a broken kneecap ended Yelich's season a few weeks early. Bellinger slashed .336/.432/.692 with 30 home runs in the first half.
- DH Nelson Cruz (Twins), 2nd half: Cruz didn't use his glove even once in 2019, and produced the best offensive season of his career. Even though he turned 39 on July 1, he led MLB with a 1.147 OPS in the second half -- roughly 100 points higher than Barry Bonds' career mark.
- LF Christian Yelich (Brewers), 1st half: We're cheating a little bit to get Yelich and Bellinger both in the lineup, as Yelich only played a handful of games in left field. With a league-leading 31 home runs and 1.140 OPS in the first half, we just couldn't leave him out. He homered on 34.1% of his fly balls before the All-Star break.
- SS Marcus Semien (A's), 2nd half: Semien was one of the breakout stars of 2019, playing shortstop for nearly every inning of the Athletics' season. He compiled a 167 wRC+ in the second half, leading all shortstops.
- 2B Ketel Marte (Diamondbacks), 2nd half: More light cheating --- Marte spent more time in the outfield than the infield. Since his MLB debut in 2015, his home run totals by season have risen exponentially: 2, 1, 5, 14, and 32. His .358 second-half batting average led the majors.
- 1B Pete Alonso (Mets), 1st half: The NL Rookie of the Year broke the rookie and Mets franchise season records for home runs with 53, largely thanks to 30 in the first half.
- C Mitch Garver (Twins), 1st half: Completely out of nowhere, Garver blasted 31 bombs in just 359 plate appearance, helping the Twins set an MLB record with 307 in a season. His .295/.375/.609 slash line in before the All-Star break was as big a clue as any that the baseball was a little different than in previous years.