Many people look at the All Star Break as the midpoint of the season. While this feels natural, it is also incorrect. In fact, the halfway point of this season (81 games) will happen at some point this week for most teams in the Majors. As a result, it seems like as good a time as any to hand out some midseason hardware. If I had a vote, this is who I would give said (meaningless?) hardware to:
AL ROY - This is tough because there are two very worthy candidates in Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Abreu. Tanaka has taken the Majors by storm with a league leading 11 wins, a 2.11 ERA (good for 2nd in the AL), and 119 K’s, which ties him for 3rd in the AL. These are not Rookie of the Year numbers, they are Cy Young numbers. On the flip side, Jose Abreu handily leads all rookies with an astonishing 22 HR’s and 60 RBI (despite missing 14 games). Abreu is on pace to hit the 2nd most HR’s ever by a rookie, only trailing Mark McGwire’s 49 bombs in 1987. So how do we choose between two obscenely worthy candidates? To be honest, I don’t have a good answer. But since I have to choose, I am giving the SLIGHT edge to Tanaka. As much as I love Abreu, what Tanaka is doing is pretty epic.
NL ROY - As much as the AL race is a dogfight between two extremely worthy candidates, the NL race is the exact opposite. There is no one who stands out as overly deserving. In fact, the person who I would put in 3rd place in the AL, George Springer, would be an easy choice in the NL. However, since I have to pick someone, I’ll give the award to Billy Hamilton. Hamilton has hit for a better average than expected (.276) and leads all rookies with 31 SB’s. Add in an NL rookie high 39 runs, and Hamilton is the choice. Ultimately though, by year’s end, I think this award will be Gregory Polanco’s going away, he just hasn’t played enough yet to earn the midseason crown.
AL Cy Young - This comes down to two names for me: Masahiro Tanaka and Felix Hernandez, with an honorable mention for Mark Buehrle. Tanaka has 11 wins to Felix’s 9. Luckily for Felix, I don’t value wins as much as others might. Both Tanaka and Felix are among the Top 5 in all of baseball with 119 and 128 strikeouts respectively. And while Tanaka has the slightly better ERA (2.11 to 2.24), I am going to give it to King Felix. So what is the clincher for me when the resumes are so close? Felix has logged an MLB high 120.1 innings, almost 19 more innings than Tanaka. For that reason, I’ll give Felix the edge at the halfway point.
NL Cy Young - For me this is a two-man race between Johnny Cueto and Adam Wainwright. Cueto leads the Majors with a 1.86 ERA. Wainwright is second in MLB with a 2.08 ERA. The wins lead goes to Wainwright at 10 to 7, but again, I am not going to make a decision solely based on wins because I believe that is a team dependent stat. With Cueto having a 119 to 98 lead in K’s and a ridiculous 0.84 whip to go along with an MLB leading .173 batting average against, I am going to give the midseason award to him over Wainwright…but just barely.
AL MVP - This is a 4-horse race for me between Edwin Encarnacion, Victor Martinez, Mike Trout, and Josh Donaldson. Encarnacion leads the Majors in Home Runs (24) and RBI (63). Victor has the highest average of the group (.326) to go along with a surprising 19 bombs. Trout leads the AL in OPS (.988) and plays a gold glove caliber CF. Donaldson is top 5 in HR’s (18), RBI (56) and leads the AL in WAR at 4.7. In addition, he plays incredible defense and is on the best team in the Major Leagues. In fact, all of these guys are on teams that are in 1st or 2nd place in their Division. Victor can be taken out of the race because he is primarily a DH. Not contributing on the defensive side of the ball is enough to move him below the other 3. Encarnacion’s porous defense allows me to remove him as well. That leaves us with Trout and Donaldson. The numbers give the slight edge to Trout, but for some reason, my gut says Donaldson. He is just such an important piece of the best team in baseball that I am going to give him the midseason award.
NL MVP - There are three guys I took into account here, but ultimately, there is a pretty clear winner. Giancarlo Stanton and Jonathan LuCroy both have strong cases to be made, but right now this is Troy Tulowitzki’s award to lose. Tulo leads the Majors in Avg. (.354) WAR (5.2), and OPS (1.082). In fact, Tulo leads the Majors in both categories that form OPS: OBP (.445) and Slugging (.637). Add in the fact that he is a great defender at perhaps the most important position on the field, and Tulo is a surprisingly easy choice for the midseason NL MVP.