MLB: Predicting the Winner of Every Major Award at the Midway Point
The All-Star break will offer some good time off for players and teams before their attention turns firmly to the postseason in the second half.
Some teams are still finding their place, but we have a good idea of how the playoff picture is going to look come October. We also have a good idea of where the awards will be going after the playoffs have finished.
Some, like the AL Rookie of the Year, have already been sewn up. Others are still wide open.
Here's how things would probably go if the season ended today.
AL MVP—Josh Hamilton, Texas
Josh Hamilton's life story is at once fascinating and inspiring. He has struggled with a lot but has now established himself as one of the best all-around hitters in the game.
Hamilton has cooled off from his early start, but when you consider that even as late as May he was on pace to hit 90 home runs, that's not surprising.
He is still tied for the league lead in home runs with 27, helped by his four-in-one game earlier this year. He has 10 more RBI than anyone else and an excellent .308 batting average.
There are a few other candidates that may come closer to the Rangers slugger later in the season, but right now he is firmly the favorite.
Honorable mentions: David Ortiz (Boston), Robinson Cano (New York), Mike Trout (Los Angeles)
AL Cy Young—Justin Verlander, Detroit
There are a number of pitchers in the AL who can stake a legitimate claim to being the best this season.
Jered Weaver, David Price, Jake Peavy, Chris Sale have all had good seasons, but the defending Cy winner Justin Verlander is probably still the front-runner.
He is fourth in the league in ERA (2.58), second in FIP (2.94), first in innings (132.2), complete games (five) and strikeouts (128).
His 9-5 record isn't great, but it's more indicative of the Detroit Tigers' struggles than his own.
Honourable mentions: Jered Weaver (Los Angeles), David Price (Tampa Bay), Jake Peavy, Chris Sale (both Chicago)
AL Rookie of the Year—Mike Trout, Los Angeles
There's no real contest here. There are rookies in the AL, and then there's Mike Trout.
The Angels' outfielder leads all AL hitters in WAR. Not just rookies, but everyone. When limited to this year's crop of rookies, Trout is head and shoulders above the pack.
He leads in home runs (12), average (.341), OBP (.397), slugging (.562), runs (57), RBI (40) and stolen bases (26).
No one will come close to stealing this award from him.
AL Manager of the Year—Robin Ventura, Chicago
Before the season began, it was difficult to predict who would win the AL East and West.
The Angels and Rangers would be close, as would the Yankees and Rays. But there was little doubt that the AL Central was the Detroit Tigers' division.
How wrong that prediction was.
The Chicago White Sox (47-38) have led the division, barring three days in mid-June, since May 29. Granted, they have had some excellent performances from players like Paul Konerko and Jake Peavy, but new manager Robin Ventura has to take some credit.
Honorable mentions: Buck Showalter (Baltimore), Manny Acta (Cleveland)
AL Comeback Player of the Year—Adam Dunn, Chicago
Adam Dunn was six plate appearances away from qualifying for the batting title last year, which would have given him the dubious honor of the worst batting average in the history of baseball.
His .159 average and 11 home runs made a mockery of the four-year, $56 million contract he signed before the 2011 season. This year has been different.
Dunn's .208 batting average isn't earth-shattering, but it's a lot better than last year.
His home run total, though, has been vastly better. He has hit 25 in the first half. Replicating that would put him in elite company, hitting 50 in a season.
Honorable mentions: Jake Peavy (Chicago)
NL MVP—Joey Votto, Cincinnati
Unlike the AL Rookie of the Year and NL Cy Young, no real definitive front-runner has emerged in the NL MVP race.
Andrew McCutchen will merit serious consideration if the Pittsburgh Pirates can keep their recent good form up and make it to the playoffs. If they fail, though, he will need some exceedingly good numbers to win.
David Wright is another contender, with his New York Mets competitive in the NL East.
But it's Joey Votto who has the best case just now, with the top numbers across the board and a team only one game out of first in its division.
The fact that the Cincinnati Reds are a good team in a mediocre division means they will almost certainly be in the postseason hunt, which bumps up Votto's MVP chances.
He won the award in 2010 and while his power numbers aren't quite as strong, he's still been the best player in the NL, with a .348 average, .617 slugging percentage and 14 home runs.
Honorable mentions: Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh), David Wright (New York)
NL Cy Young—RA Dickey, New York
RA Dickey has dominated the National League. It's a curious decision to allow Matt Cain to start Tuesday night's All-Star Game; Cain has been great but Dickey has been on another level.
The 37-year-old knuckleballer has been one of the best surprises in the game in the first half of 2012, pitching to a 12-1 record with a 2.40 ERA.
At one point, he threw back-to-back one-hit shutouts. It's been scary how utterly dominant he has been.
Honorable mentions: Matt Cain (San Francisco), Johan Santana (New York), Gio Gonzalez (Washington)
NL Rookie of the Year—Bryce Harper, Washington
Bryce Harper was making waves as a future all-star, elite player, and possible Hall of Famer before he was even drafted two years ago.
The Washington Nationals took him with the No. 1 overall pick.
It was the second-straight year they had been blessed with a brilliant talent with the first pick in the draft, after they got Stephen Strasburg in 2009. He was called up just a few weeks into the 2012 season and has been a revelation.
The 19-year-old Harper is second on the Nationals in average (.282), third in home runs (8), first in OBP (.354) and third in stolen bases (10).
Among NL rookies, he's fifth in average, second in home runs, third in OBP and second in steals.
NL Manager of the Year—Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place in the NL Central. The Pittsburgh Pirates.
The same Pirates who have gone two decades without October baseball, who have not had a winning season in 19 years.
The Mets' Terry Collins is in a similar position, after chaperoning a team many expected to finish in the cellar of their division to playoff contention.
But while the Mets only have a few names the majority of baseball fans have heard about (David Wright, Johan Santana, Jason Bay), the Pirates have one: Andrew McCutchen.
Well, most people will have heard of AJ Burnett, but only as the overpaid failure he was in New York.
Honorable mentions: Terry Collins (New York), Davey Johnson (Washington)
NL Comeback Player of the Year—Stephen Strasburg, Washington
Again, this is one where there are no real standout candidates. However, Stephen Strasburg is one who fits the bill.
After losing almost all of 2011 to Tommy John surgery, Strasburg has become the pitcher Washington thought they would get when they drafted him No. 1 overall in 2009.
He is the figurehead of a Nationals rotation which has been the best in baseball this year, has a 2.82 ERA and is tied for the major league lead in strikeouts with 128.
Honorable mentions: Eric Bedard (Pittsburgh), Johan Santana (New York)
Adam MacDonald is a Scottish journalism student at GCU and has been a featured columnist for the Boston Red Sox since October 2010. You can follow him on Twitter, or tell him how awesome/terrible this article was, by clicking here.