Handing out 1st-Half Awards to Los Angeles Dodgers Players
The first half of the season is almost finished, and the Los Angeles Dodgers have put themselves back into the playoff discussion. While still an underachieving club, five games under .500 is not an impossible hole to climb out of.
Much of their recent success can be attributed to the presence of Yasiel Puig, as the lineup has seen a considerable boost since he entered the starting nine. Puig is the recipient at least one of the team's major awards, but the winners of the other awards may not be as obvious.
It's not often that a player puts up numbers at a Joe DiMaggio-type pace, so when they do, they most certainly deserve recognition. Seeing as no other players on the Dodgers has put up legendary numbers thus far, it will be a bit more of a competition between certain players for the other awards.
Puig is also the only Dodger who will likely have a chance to win a major award versus the rest of the competition in the bigs, though not many would be shocked if another player makes a run at the Comeback Player of the Year Award.
With the first half just about in the books, here are your Dodgers' Cy Young, MVP, Rookie of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year and Gold Glove award-winners.
Clayton Kershaw is the most deserving pitcher on the Dodgers for the team's Cy Young Award. Hyun-Jin Ryu has had a great first half as well, but Kershaw has been the better pitcher overall.
Over 17 starts, Kershaw has a 6-5 record. He has struck out 118 in 121.1 innings pitched while walking just 33. Opponents are hitting .196 against him, and his WHIP of 0.96 ranks him amongst the game's best pitchers yet again. Oh, yeah, his 2.08 ERA is also quite impressive.
Kershaw is one of the best pitchers in baseball—that much is obvious. His great pitching this season has helped to keep the Dodgers alive. The five losses are the only blemish on his stat line, but many of those losses can be attributed to poor run support. Not many pitchers with a 2.08 ERA would have five losses in just 17 starts.
Kershaw's least talked about trait is the fact that he almost always goes deep into games. The Dodgers bullpen has been shaky at times, and any time manager Don Mattingly can give his relievers a day off, it is greatly appreciated.
As sad as it is to say, Kershaw probably won't be a top candidate for the NL Cy Young Award without piling up some more wins. The win-loss column still holds weight in this discussion, even if advanced statistics are the better measure of a pitcher's effectiveness.
Adrian Gonzalez is the team's first-half MVP, as he's carried the offensive load with so many of the other team's stars seeing time on the disabled list. His numbers may not be the flashiest, but it has been his consistency that has kept the lineup producing.
His triple-slash line of .296/.350/.465 is impressive, while his 10 home runs and 48 RBI are respectable. What makes Gonzalez so valuable is the defense he brings as well. His defense at first base ranks him amongst the top players in baseball at the position.
Gonzalez's calm approach and sweet swing have made him a fan favorite in Los Angeles. In a city so used to having boisterous stars (see: Ramirez, Manny), Gonzalez is a nice change of pace for one of the league's most legendary clubs.
Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez gave Gonzalez a run for his money for team MVP, but in the end, it came down to Gonzalez's consistency and longevity.
Ramirez missed significant time on the DL, while Puig has only been in the bigs for a month. That's not enough time to be an MVP.
Rookie of the Year
Hyun-Jin Ryu has been great for the Dodgers and would have been the team's Rookie of the Year had Yasiel Puig not taken the baseball world by storm.
What's really left to say about the Cuban outfielder with the rocket arm? He has amassed 44 hits in just 101 at-bats (26 games), adding up to a batting average of .436. He has cleared the fences seven times, driven in 16 runs and stolen four bases.
He came just shy of hitting for the cycle a few nights ago, hit two home runs in his second career game and has already made pitchers wary of throwing anything near the plate. He looks to be the second coming of Vladimir Guerrero, but making such comparisons this early on can be a dangerous game.
Puig has the chance to be an NL All-Star (that'll be up to manager Bruce Bochy, of course) and has a legitimate shot at winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award come season's end.
He's the real deal for Los Angeles.
Comeback Player of the Year
Not all that much was expected of Carl Crawford entering the 2013 season, but the Dodgers have been pleasantly surprised with his production (aside from a stint on the disabled list, of course).
Crawford has put together a line of .301/.358/.470 with five home runs, 13 RBI, nine stolen bases, 12 doubles and two triples. When healthy, Crawford has been a catalyst for the Dodgers.
His numbers this season are reminiscent of his latter years with the Tampa Bay Rays. Crawford established himself as one of the top players in the American League East with the Rays, but a transition to Fenway Park with the Boston Red Sox seemed to be a finishing blow for the speedy outfielder.
He's come back into his own this season and, with a healthy finish, has a chance to contend for the league's Comeback Player of the Year award. The real key here is "a healthy finish," as it doesn't really make sense to have an oft-injured player win the award while he's injured.
Andre Ethier took home a Gold Glove in 2011 and may be on his way to taking home another at the conclusion of the 2013 season. Ethier doesn't immediately come to mind when thinking about the game's best defensive outfielders (Mike Trout, Alex Gordon and Brett Gardner certainly do), but he is a well above-average glove in the outfield.
He has made just one error this season while tallying six outfield assists. He has been responsible for four double plays from the outfield.
He also boats a range factor of 2.03, which is tops amongst the team's starting outfielders.
Ethier's bat may not be up to par this season, but his glove has certainly made an impact. Had Ethier been hitting a little more, his defense would have propelled him into the team's MVP discussion.