Can you believe we are already to the mid-summer classic? Oh, and how about that Home Run Derby? I was skeptical of the changes before, but damn was that fun to watch. It is an exciting time for Major League Baseball, with the surge of young talent, which is making the league as talented as ever. If the season ended today, here’s how who I would give awards to:
American League MVP – LAA OF Mike Trout:
Now a back to back All-Star Game MVP, he is also last year’s A.L. MVP. He is at it again in the first half of this season batting .312 with a .614 OPS. Although we now expect these kinds of numbers from Trout, we can’t overlook how big the numbers actually are. With the resurgence from Pujols, Trout has had more protection behind him in the lineup. Prior to Miguel Cabrera going to the DL, this was a close race between the two. But if Trout continues what he has been doing so far this season, the All-Star Game MVP won’t be the only the only award he repeats.
National League MVP – WSH OF Bryce Harper:
This is one of the few mid-season awards that was uncontested during my selection process. Batting .339 with a league leading slugging percentage of .704 and 26 home runs, Harper is simply dominating National League pitching. He is the best player on the best team in the National League. I’d say he is even the best player in baseball right now, and he’s only 22.
American League Cy Young – HOU SP Dallas Kuechel:
This is a tough choice since there are lots of good pitchers in the American League right now between Sale, Archer, and Gray, but with Kuechel’s individual and team success, I think I’d give him the nod. The American League SP in the All-Star game kind of came as of a surprise to many, and has turned into the ace the Astros needed. Having the 2nd lowest ERA in the majors (behind Sonny Gray) with a 2.23, Kuechel makes it easy for his team to lead ball games. Which is why he also leads the AL in wins with 11. He also has pitched the most innings in the AL with 137.1 IP. Both Gray and Sale are incredible pitchers, but are on non-contending teams, setting them back in the Cy Young race.
National League Cy Young – WSH SP Max Scherzer:
I really wanted to go against the grain here, since everyone seems to be on the Scherzer bandwagon. Zach Grienke with a 1.39 ERA and Gerrit Cole with 13 Wins are close, but no one has pitched as lights out as of late then Max Scherzer. Just like Harper, Scherzer is leading the Nationals into the break with a lead in the division, and flirted with a perfect game in back to back games. He has a 2.11 ERA and hitters against him only have a .185 AVG. No one in the league wants to face Scherzer right now.
American League Rookie of the Year – HOU SS Chris Correa:
Okay, this is kind of cheating. Correa only has 32 games of experience. So the sample size is still small, but the way he has played has made him look like a matured veteran. He already has 7 home runs and is batting .276. I could have gone with 2B Devon Travis of the Blue Jays who is batting .304 with 7 home runs, but what we have seen from Correa, makes him a lock for the award if he can continue what he has been doing.
National League Rookie of the Year – LAD OF Joc Pederson:
The two rookies you saw in the Home Run Derby are the players competing for this award. Mine as well go with the guy that made it to the finals, right? Pederson doesn’t just hit bombs in the Derby though, he has 20 homers on the season, and is a necessary power bat in the middle of the Dodgers lineup. Bryant could certainly pass Pederson, as the two are close and both super talented. Other rookies to look at are Mets’ Pitchers Noah Syndegaard and Stephen Matz, as well as Jorge Solar when he returns to the Cubs lineup healthy.
American League Comeback Player of the Year – NYY DH Alex Rodriguez:
I think if you are someone other then a Yankees fan, you just hate to see this. How A-Rod has handled the PED situation to his HR Milestone Bonus with the Yankees, he is a villain in the MLB. A 40 year old middle of the lineup villain. A-Rod has put up surprisingly good numbers, batting .278 with 18 home runs. He’s a force in the middle of the lineup for the first place Yankees, and finished up the first half with a hell of a series against the Red Sox. Prince Fielder could be considered with this award, but based on the fact that A-Rod didn’t even play last year due to his suspension, he gets the nod.
National League Comeback Player of the Year – NYM SP Matt Harvey:
Staying in the great state of New York, Matt Harvey has made a full recovery from Tommy John Surgery, and has began to pitch like the ace we all thought he would be before the surgery. The ship has been turned around in New York, and Harvey deserves a lot of the credit.
American League Manager of the Year – HOU A.J. Hinch:
If you haven’t noticed, I’m all in on this Houston Astros team. This team has a young group of talented guys including Jose Altuve, Dallas Kuechel, Chris Correa, and Collin McHugh that have led the team to a 49-42 record heading into the All-Star break. First year manager A.J. Hinch may have taken the job at just the right time, but he definitely deserves credit for the worst to first flip by the Astros. Former Red Sox C Kevin Cash, now manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, deserves an honorable mention, since he has replaced Joe Maddon admirably.
National League Manager of the Year – STL Mike Matheny:
The Cardinals have the best record in the MLB, even after losing their ace Adam Wainwright in the beginning of the season. There is no question Mike Matheny deserves this award. Former Rays Manager Joe Maddon, who is now with the Cubs, has also done a good job with a young team in a tough division with the Cardinals and Pirates.
Biggest Disappointment (Hitter) – LAD SS Jimmy Rollins:
A lot of options here, and to avoid going back to back Red Sox with Mike Napoli, I’m going to go with Jimmy Rollins, the Dodgers Starting SS. Rollins is only batting .213 with 8 home runs in 83 games. The Dodgers traded for him in the offseason in hopes of getting a productive middle infielder, but Rollins has not come close to those expectations.
Biggest Disappointment (Pitcher) – BOS SP Rick Porcello:
In attempts to bolster the rotation over the offseason, the Red Sox went out and acquired Rick Porcello from the Tigers in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes. Right before the season started, the Red Sox loved this kid so much that they gave him a four year 82.5 million dollar contract extension before he threw his first pitch at Fenway. Now, Porcello is 5-9 with a 5.90 ERA. Opponents have a whopping .297 AVG against him. With an already weak pitching staff in Boston, Porcello is simply a mess right now, and someone Red Sox fans dread to see on the mound.
Biggest Surprise (Hitting) – ARZ OF Paul Goldschmidt:
How have we not talked about the season Goldschmidt is having? Batting a league 2nd .340 avg., only behind Miguel Cabrera, and he has 21 HR’s. He’s also tied for the league lead in RBI’s with 70. Although Arizona is struggling with a 42-45 record, it is promising that the 27 year old is someone who the organization can build around. Some may say they knew this guy was talented making this not a surprise, but I don’t think anyone could picture these numbers.
Biggest Surprise (Pitching) – CHI SP Jake Arrieta:
The Cubs lineup has been all the buzz of late, with young guns Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in the middle of it. What hasn’t been talked about is the dominant starting pitching from Arrieta. in 18 starts, Arrieta has a 10-5 record and a 2.66 ERA. He is someone Cubs fans look to when they need a win, something every good team needs.
Surprise Team – Minnesota Twins 49-40, 2nd in A.L. Central:
Ha! You thought I was going to say the Astros didn’t you!
Although the Astros could be considered a surprise team, I’m going with the Twins. After finishing the season 70-92, this young team seems to be much better than last years. They only trail 4.5 games of the A.L. leading Royals, making them the Wild Card leaders. They even have a one game lead over the Astros in the Wild Card chase in the American League.
Disappointing Team – Philadelphia Phillies 29-62, last in N.L. East:
If you asked any “expert” before the season, they would tell you that the Philadelphia Phillies would struggle to win games. Though, I don’t think anyone predicted the Phillies to be this bad. The 2015 Phillies team is horrendous. They simply have a lack of talent, and it starts with their front office just messing everything up. The whole Philly organization is a mess, and have very few bright prospects to look towards in the future. The “Fightin’ Phillies” no longer have any fight.
First Half Highlights:
Top Defensive Plays:
1. Josh Donaldson diving into the crowd for a Derek Jeter style catch:
2. Avisail Garcia saves the game for the White Sox by robbing Chris Davis in the 9th. The celebration makes this play that much better.
3. May have forgotten about this one, Kevin Pillar gets UP on the wall to rob a homer.
4. Nolan Arenado makes a spectacular catch falling onto the tarp
Top Performance (Batting) – Adrian Gonzalez, April 8th:
Notice the date, Gonzalez started the season with 5 HR’s in 3 games. Also, enjoy the majestic commentating by legend Vin Scully.
Top Performance (Pitching) – Corey Kluber, May 13th:
Corey Kluber tallies 18 K’s. I got this beating out Max Scherzer’s no-no by just a hair. No hitters are becoming something we see more often…18 strikeouts is simply amazing.
Top Meltdown – Torii Hunter, June 10th:
Max Scherzer/Chris Heston No-No’s:
Top Home Run – Giancarlo Stanton, May 12th:
Stanton absolutely mashes one out of Dodger Stadium.
So, that is the Midseason Awards and recap of the MLB season thus far. It is crazy to think about what has already happened in just the first half of the season. We still have the Trade Deadline, September call-ups, and October baseball. This is just what I need to hold me over until football season.
Note: I’m sure I missed some things since a lot happened in the first half. Comment below so we can all enjoy more first half highlights. Or simply tweet me @ConnerGrant5 because I’ll wanna see.