We are halfway home. A little more than that, actually, but close enough.
As teams approach the break, the shape of the MLB season has mostly emerged, and by the time we do this again in August, the trade deadline will be behind us. Some teams will have firmly set their sights on 2024 and beyond, while others will be pointed at the looming October playoff brackets. It goes by fast.
For now, while we will do our usual Stock Watch assessments of where teams stand in the great 2023 pecking order, we're going to focus our commentary at the player level by anointing a first-half MVP for each club. This is strictly ceremonial -- as far as we know, there aren't any players who have a bonus written into their contracts for Stock Watch recognition. But perhaps that's only a matter of time.
Sim wins: 105.4 (change from June: +7.5)
Probabilities: 99% (division), 100% (playoffs), 24% (title)
First-half MVP: Ronald Acuna Jr. (150 AXE). You don't need advanced metrics to know Acuna is having a historic season, one that has him firmly in the driver's seat at midseason in the NL MVP race. He's on pace to top 40 homers and 70 steals. With his 40th stolen base Monday night, he became the first Brave to reach that mark before the All-Star break since Otis Nixon in 1991. And sure, we kind of suspected that these were the kind of homer and steal numbers we might get from peak Acuna. But a .335 batting average to boot? It's ridiculous. Runner-up: Sean Murphy (128 AXE).