With the MLB All-Star Game concluded, we have now officially entered the start of the second half of the season. But before we fall into the dog days of summer, it's time to first reflect on some of the impressive performances of the first half.
Here are our MLB Mid-Season Awards:
NL MVP – Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Check out the numbers: Andrew McCutchen is currently batting .359, with 18 homers and 60 RBI’s at the All-Star break. He has an OBP of .414 and is slugging .625, making his OPS 1.039. Not to mention, he’s stolen 14 bases.
Quite simply, McCutchen does it all. At his current pace, he is projected to hit .356, with a .410 OBP, a .603 slugging percentage, and 30-plus homers.
But what might ultimately push McCutchen over the hump and help him win his first MVP will be his team's success. The Pirates currently sit atop the NL Central by a game over the Reds, who have their own MVP candidate in Joey Votto (.348, 14, 48).
Honorable Mention: Joey Votto, Ryan Braun, Carlos Ruiz
NL Cy Young – R.A. Dickey (New York Mets)
Here’s a little quiz: How many knuckleballers have won the Cy Young? Head drawing a blank? It should. The answer is zero.
Just as amazing as the movement on Dickey’s knuckleball are the numbers that he’s posting. Dickey is currently 12-1, with 123 K's, a 2.40 ERA, and a .93 WHIP. Batters are hitting a minuscule .203 off him. He’s done all this in 120 innings, which amounts to a full game more than any other pitcher has thrown in the NL Cy Young discussion.
The incredible thing about Dickey is that his numbers were even better two weeks ago, before he hit a rough patch giving up 10 earned runs in his last 3 appearances.
Did I mention that Dickey is 37?
Honorable Mention: Gio Gonzalez, James McDonald, Johnny Cueto
NL Rookie of the Year – Todd Frazier (Cincinnati Reds)
This may not be a popular pick. In fact, this pick may have some asking, “who’s Todd Frazier?” That’s fair, but the numbers he puts up demand recognition.
A lot of people have bought into the Bryce Harper hype, and rightly so, given his intensity and success at such a young age. But this award isn’t based on age, it’s based on performance.
When you place Frazier’s numbers side-by-side with those of Harper, you see that Frazier is having a similar or better season. Here’s a comparison:
BA: Harper .282, Frazier .278. The gap is negligible, but Harper gets the nod.
HRs: Harper 8, Frazier 9. Once again, small gap. Edge to Frazier.
RBI’s: Harper 25, Frazier, 29. Edge to Frazier.
OBP: Harper .354, Frazier .345. Edge Harper.
SLG: Harper .472, Frazier .556. Edge Frazier.
OPS: Harper .826, Frazier .901. Edge Frazier.
In a race this close, if Harper won the ROY award, it would be well deserved. But when you remove the hype and look at the numbers, Frazier's production for the Reds this season is equally impressive and cannot be neglected.
Honorable Mention: Bryce Harper, Wade Miley, Wilin Rosario
NL Manager of the Year – Davey Johnson (Washington Nationals)
Another close race, but ultimately the award goes to Davey Johnson of the Nationals. Johnson has the Nationals sitting atop the standings with the best record in the NL, and the third-best record in all of baseball going into the All-Star break (49-34).
He’s done this on the strength and management of his pitching staff, which sports a 3.20 overall ERA, best in the Majors. Perhaps his biggest test will come late in the season, when he must be careful not to exceed star Stephen Strasburg's alleged innings limitation during the heat of a division race.
Honorable Mention: Clint Hurdle, Don Mattingly, Terry Collins
AL MVP – Mark Trumbo (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
Let's look at his numbers first: Trumbo is batting .306, with 22 blasts, and 57 RBI’s. He has an OBP of .358 (60 points higher than last season) and is slugging over .600.
Yeah, he’s not leading the league in any of the major categories, but here's a rebuttal: He put up those numbers in 40 less at-bats than any other player in the MVP race.
Moreover, he produced those quality stats despite having to adjust to an unnatural position. Trumbo's production has been vital to his squad because during the Angels sluggish start, it was his bat that carried the team. Were he on the Yankees or Red Sox, Trumbo would definitely receive more MVP love.
Honorable Mention: Mike Trout, Robinson Cano, Paul Konerko
AL Cy Young – Justin Verlander (Detroit Tigers)
This was arguably the toughest decision of all the major awards. Verlander sports a 9-5 record, with 128 K’s, a 2.58 ERA, and a .95 WHIP. Batters are only hitting a mere .200 off him.
However, the Angels' Jeff Weaver has a 10-1 record, and is the only pitcher since Sandy Koufax to have 10 wins and an ERA under 2.00 in two straight seasons going into the All-Star break.
What puts Verlander over the top are his 5 complete games and astounding 132.2 innings pitched, as he is once again on pace to surpass 200 innings and 200 strikeouts.
Simply put, when Verlander pitches, he’ll likely go 8, give up a run, and strike out at least 6 batters. He is the definition of an ace and deserves the Cy Young.
Honorable Mention: Jered Weaver, Chris Sale
AL Rookie of the Year – Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels)
Unlike the AL Cy Young race, the Rookie of the Year award has already been decided. Even if Mike Trout were to get injured tomorrow and not play a single game for the rest of the season, his first half performance alone would win the Rookie of the Year award.
Trout is batting .341, with 12 homers and 40 RBI’s. He has an impressive .399 OBP and is slugging at a .555 clip. He also leads the AL in steals, swiping 26 bags, and has proven himself defensively in the outfield. Did I also mention that he’s only 20 years old?
Most importantly, since Trout was called up from the minors, the Angels have had the best record in baseball. Perhaps the comparisons to Mantle and Griffey are warranted after all, as Trout is the one AL rookie who also could contend for the MVP.
Honorable Mention: Yu Darvish, Jarrod Parker, Will Middlebrooks
AL Manager of the Year – Buck Showalter (Baltimore Orioles)
The season looked grim even before the Orioles began their season. Then on April 4th, the headlines read, "Orioles Lose to Community College Team." What?
How could the Orioles fall to a college team and expect to win in the daunting AL East against the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays? Well, guess what. They have.
Not only are they in second place in the division, but they also have sole ownership of the second wild card spot in the AL. Showalter has done an incredible job bouncing back from that early embarrassing loss, and rightfully deserves this award.
Honorable Mention: Joe Maddon, Mike Scoscia, Robin Ventura
By Steve Oh
Contributing Writer for The Daily Sports Herald