It's hard to believe this season is halfway over. It's gone by pretty quickly despite the Braves battling the Twins for three months for the honor of worst record in either league. Sunday's loss to the Marlins at Fort Bragg – which was incredible and should be done every year – dropped Atlanta to 28-54.
Here is a recap of the club's first half of 2016 and what to watch for in the second half.
Team MVP: Freddie Freeman
A case could be made for Freeman or Julio Teheran here. For the sake of this article, let's name Freddie the MVP and Julio the Cy Young.
Braves fans had to be scared as Freeman started the year slowly, which prompted questions over whether or not his wrist was healthy or not. Fortunately, Freeman's bat exploded in late-May, and he's been one of the league's best hitters ever since. Freeman ended the first half hitting .292/.375/.516 with a 134 wRC+, 14 homers (he hit just 18 the last two seasons) and 31 RBI.
Team LVP: Hector Olivera
As if Olivera's on-field production wasn't bad enough since last summer's trade, he allegedly beat up a woman just a week into the season. He's suspended through August 1, and I can't imagine he plays another game for the Braves. Put one in the loss column for the front office – even though they aren't at fault for Hector's stupid off-field decisions – and cut your losses.
Erick Aybar and A.J. Pierzynski were also in the running here. Aybar has turned it around a bit since coming off the disabled list, but AJP is done.
Cy Young: Julio Teheran
Julio doesn't like pitching in the cold, and it showed in his first couple starts. He still holds a 2.72 ERA and 3.83 FIP through 17 starts and 112 innings. His strikeout rate of 23.8% is the best of his career, as is his walk rate of 5.4%. Take away his first three starts and his ERA is 2.07. He should be in the running for NL Comeback Player of the Year after last year's frustrating campaign.
The real storyline for the second half is whether or not Teheran gets dealt before the deadline. His value is as high as it will ever be, and teams like the Red Sox, Rangers or Astros may get desperate before the playoff push. Just how much could the Braves get for their ace? And does John Coppolella pull the trigger on a deal?
Cy Yuk: Aaron Blair
Maybe this isn't fair, but Blair was really disappointing. He struggled to command his fastball, walked as many batters (29) as he struck out over 50 innings, and got tagged by the long ball. There's still plenty of time for Blair to figure it out, but his first half went as poorly as possible.
-- I am so happy Fredi Gonzalez is gone. Brian Snitker isn't the long-term answer, but he's done a nice job since taking over.
-- This second half feels like a big one for Mike Foltynewicz. He flashed moments of brilliance in the first half, but also looked awful in a handful of starts. Missing three weeks with injury didn't help his progression, either. A strong finish to 2016 would be huge.
-- The same can be said for Matt Wisler, who was up and down throughout the first three months. He has clearly made strides since his rookie year, but it seems that one bad inning tends to be his downfall every time he takes the mound.
-- Ender Inciarte's first season in Atlanta was halted by an injury just a couple days into the season. He still hasn't hit since coming off the disabled list six weeks ago, but his glove is as-advertised. He's already at +10 Defensive Runs Saved, which is tied for ninth-best in MLB. I'd like to see his bat come around in the second half, but there is plenty of value in his defense alone.
-- Mallex Smith was my favorite part of the first half. Losing him for three months to a broken thumb really sucks, because I'd find myself tuning in just to see him at the plate. There was a steep learning curve, but you could see strides being made by the day. From April 28 to June 19, he hit .272/.338/.440 while swiping 12-of-17 bases. Mallex does that regularly and he is an everyday outfielder.
-- Tyler Flowers has been a pleasant surprise. He's consistently been one of the team's better hitters and should be starting a majority of the time. AJ Pierzynski needs to go.
-- With Bud Norris now in Los Angeles, I would like to see the Braves give Tyrell Jenkins a chance to start. At this point, why not? Give him a chance until he has to shift to the bullpen.
-- Perhaps the most likely player to be on the move at the deadline: Arodys Vizcaino. Considering his performance so far, history of injury and contract situation, the Braves should be able to get quite a bit back for their closer. Vizcaino has struggled as of late, but he still holds a 2.31 ERA and 2.94 FIP with 10 saves.
What are you looking for in the second half?