Where does Washington's impressive first half of the season fall among the best storylines so far in 2012?

5. Pitching keeps dominating?» In the first half of the season, there have been two perfect games (Philip Humber and Matt Cain), the Mets had their first no-hitter in the franchise's 8,020th game (Johan Santana), six pitchers combined for a no-hitter for the Mariners and Jered Weaver threw a no-hitter.

4. Nationals leading NL East » Washington owns a 49-34 record and four-game lead in the NL East. All-Stars Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez have led the Nationals to a major league-leading 3.20 team ERA. And rookie phenom Bryce Harper has given the offense a much-needed boost.

3. Pirates leading the NL Central?»

The Nationals have not finished with a winning record since moving to the District in 2005, but the Pirates haven't finished above .500 since 1992. Last year, Pittsburgh was 47-43 at the All-Star break before finishing with a 72-90 record. This year they're 48-37. Will they have another second-half collapse?

2. The most unlikely Cy Young candidate »

Making a first All-Star appearance at 37 years old is unexpected, but what Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey has done in the first half of the season is unfathomable. The right-hander is 12-1 with a 2.40 ERA and 123 strikeouts. He pitched back-to-back one-hitters in June.

1. Young and in charge » Rookie All-Stars Mike Trout and Bryce Harper have shown the future of the league is in good hands. Trout leads the AL in batting average (.341) and stolen bases (26). And the Nats' 19-year-old outfielder became the youngest position player to make the All-Star team.

- Jeffrey Tomik