Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: King Felix, Kershaw dominate first half

Clockwise from top left: Seattle's Felix Hernandez, Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki and Baltimore's Nelson Cruz are among the best so far this season.

USA TODAY Sports

Some have slumped, while others have simmered. Here’s our review of who’s running hot and cold around Major League Baseball during the season’s first half.

Stats through July 13

HOT PITCHERS

AL — Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

Hernandez is 11-2 with a 2.12 ERA and 154 strikeouts in 20 starts this season. His ERA leads the American League among all qualified starters, and his 144 1/3 innings pitched are second in the majors, behind the 147 2/3 of Tampa Bay Rays left-hander David Price. The Mariners right-hander won a season-high five consecutive starts from May 12-June 2. He had a career-high 15 strikeouts in a no-decision against the Rays on June 8.

NL — Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

At the break

Kershaw is 11-2 with a 1.78 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 14 starts this season. His ERA leads the majors among pitchers with at least 14 starts. The left-hander won eight consecutive starts from June 2-July 10, and he produced a 15-strikeout no-hitter in a victory over the Colorado Rockies on June 18. He went 6-0 with a 0.82 ERA and 61 strikeouts in six June starts. His first half also included a 41-inning consecutive scoreless streak.

HOT HITTERS

AL — Nelson Cruz, Baltimore Orioles

Cruz is hitting .287 with 28 home runs and 74 RBI this season. His homer total is second in the majors, behind the 29 of Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu. Cruz’s RBI are second in the majors to the 75 of Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera. Cruz has a .923 OPS, a .570 slugging percentage and a .353 on-base percentage. In the 12 July games before the All-Star break, he hit .326 with three homers and eight RBI.

NL — Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies

Tulowitzki hit .345 with 21 homers and 52 RBI into the All-Star break. His batting average leads the majors, and he has an impressive 1.048 OPS with a .613 slugging percentage and a .435 on-base percentage. He hit a season-best .381 with seven homers and 22 RBI in April, and he hit .354 with four homers and 10 RBI in June. He’s on pace to surpass his career-best .315 batting average from 2010.

HOT TEAMS

AL — Oakland Athletics

The Athletics own the majors’ best record at 59-36. Their 29 road victories tie for the major-league lead with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers. Only the Los Angeles Angels have more home victories with 32, while the A’s have 30. Oakland won 11 of 13 games from April 6-20 and there has been little drop off since. The A’s are second in the majors with 466 runs and are also second with a 3.09 ERA. They own a 1½-game lead over the Angels in the AL West.

NL — Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers own a National League-best 54-43 record. They’re just 25-24 at home, but with a 29-19 record away from Dodger Stadium, they lead the San Francisco Giants by one game in the NL West. The Dodgers are third in the NL with a 3.29 ERA, and they’re also third in the NL with 404 runs.

COLD PITCHERS

Clockwise from top left: Detroit’s Justin Verlander, Chicago Cubs’ Edwin Jackson, Chicago Cubs’ Nate Schierholtz and Baltimore’s Chris Davis all struggled in the first half.

AL — Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

Verlander is 8-8 with a 4.88 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 20 starts this season. The right-hander has allowed 46 walks, threatening to pass the 75 he surrendered last year, which were the most since a career-worst 87 in 2008. He lost six of eight decisions from May 9-June 16. His victories July 2 against the A’s and July 8 against the Dodgers were his first victories in consecutive starts since he won three in a row from April 12-22.

NL — Edwin Jackson, Chicago Cubs

On the market?

Jackson is 5-10 with a 5.64 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 19 starts this season. The right-hander has allowed 49 walks, which are just 10 fewer than he surrendered in 31 starts last year. He’s failed to win consecutive decisions all year. He posted a season-worst 6.23 ERA in five June starts.

COLD HITTERS

AL — Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles

Davis hit .199 with 15 homers and 48 RBI in the first half. He’s on pace for a large decline from last season, when he hit .286 with 53 homers and 138 RBI. He already has 106 strikeouts, which makes this the fourth time he has reached at least 100 strikeouts in his seven-year career. He hit a season-worst .175 with 36 strikeouts in June, and hit .146 with 20 strikeouts in 11 July games.

NL — Nate Schierholtz, Chicago Cubs

Schierholtz has hit .204 with five homers and 31 RBI this season. He’s on pace for a career-worst batting average, with his current low standing at .242 when he played for the San Francisco Giants in 2010. He has a .564 OPS, a .314 slugging percentage and a .250 on-base percentage. He hit a season-worst .195 with 22 strikeouts in June.

COLD TEAMS

AL — Texas Rangers

The Rangers hold the majors’ worst record at 38-57. They finished an abysmal 9-17 in June, and they’re just 1-12 so far in July. From June 17-July 13, they won just three games. They’re tied for 13th in the majors with 391 runs, but their pitching ranks 29th with a 4.93 ERA. Their 21-game deficit to the first-place A’s in the AL West is 7½ games more than the next-largest deficit by a last-place team, the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West.

NL — Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks hold the NL’s worst record at 40-56. They finished 9-19 in April and have failed to recover. They’re 21st in the majors with 376 runs, and their 4.27 ERA ranks 27th. They have stabilized of late  they’re 5-7 in July  but it’s likely too little, too late.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Here’s to you, Captain. The All-Star Game is a spotlight for fans and baseball’s best talents alike. Everyone present deserves to create a memory, and there’s a reason the Midsummer Classic stands as the best all-star offering our country’s professional leagues have to offer. The event is a timeless collective celebration in July’s heat, the gratitude shared across generations from grandfathers to grandsons, from the bright-eyed young boy dreaming of stardom on a dirt field in the Dominican Republic to the revered veteran from the New Jersey suburbs about to hang up his pinstripes for good. Tuesday at Target Field, at heart, was Derek Jeter’s night. Forget the talk of whether St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright grooved a pitch to the Yankees star. Jeter’s continued walk toward the horizon will be recalled far, far longer. Enjoy the victory lap. Treasure the memories.

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.