Philadelphia Phillies: Handing out 1st-Half Awards to Most Deserving Phillies
Obviously, it has not been the best year for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Currently they have a 40-45 record, which is good enough for just third in the NL East. They are 9.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves in the division and 8.5 out of a playoff spot via the Wild Card. And yes, there is still time to turn it around, but it is looking more and more like the Phillies will be selling off at the July 31 trade deadline.
But before we get to that, it is time to acknowledge the fact that more than half of the season, 85 games to be exact, has been played.
Putting aside the negatives, the Phillies have had some exciting moments and some players that are worthy of being commended. It is likely very few of these players will receive recognition in the form of an end-of-the-year award or even an All-Star selection, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be acknowledged for strong first halves.
Consider this Philadelphia's very own award show, here to honor the first half of the season Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, MVP, Comeback Player of the Year, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.
So, the envelopes please, because it is time to announce the midseason award winners for the Philadelphia Phillies.
And the Cy Young Goes To...
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LHP Cliff Lee, RHP Kyle Kendrick, RHP Jonathan Pettibone
The Philadelphia Phillies were dealt a huge blow when former All-Star and two-time Cy Young winner Roy Halladay landed on the DL with surgery to repair bone spurs in his shoulder.
Without Halladay and with a struggling Cole Hamels, the Phillies were forced to find pitching success elsewhere. And given the opportunity, one rookie emerged and is taking advantage of his time with the big league club.
Pettibone, who had been a top prospect and baby ace, is now being looked at as a potential future ace for this team. On the season, he has a 4-3 record with a 3.99 ERA, 49 strikeouts and a 1.39 WHIP. Overall, he has put up solid numbers for a rookie and has kept the Phillies within striking distance; the team has won nine of his 14 starts.
But Pettibone has not been the best pitcher for the Phillies this season.
Could it perhaps be Kendrick, who is having a renaissance season with a 7-5 record and a 3.59 ERA?
And the Cy Young goes to...CLIFF LEE!
Lee is having a phenomenal season, clearly making true on his promise to better the numbers he put up in 2012. And while he did have a few hiccups here and there, Lee has easily been the best and the most consistent pitcher the Phillies have had this year.
His numbers speak for themselves and actually have him in the running for the NL Cy Young as well. Lee has an impressive 9-2 record, 2.59 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. His strikeout totals have been trending upward as of late as well.
But perhaps the most important stat is that Lee has not allowed more than three earned runs in a game since May 1.
And the Rookie of the Year Goes To...
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RHP Jonathan Pettibone, RP J.C. Ramirez, RP Phillippe Aumont
One of the hardest things that can be asked of a rookie is to come up midseason and immediately make an impact. And for two of the three nominees, this is exactly what they were asked to do.
Jonathan Pettibone received his call-up when Roy Halladay and John Lannan were placed on the DL and has kept his spot since.
As mentioned in the previous slide, Pettibone has started 14 games for the Phillies, nine of which the team has won. His walk total is a little higher than one would want, but again, he is a rookie and is adjusting to a new role in the major leagues.
But Pettibone has not been the only one to impress. Former top prospect from the now-infamous Cliff Lee-to-the-Seattle Mariners trade Phillippe Aumont has also been admirable.
In a year when the Phillies bullpen has struggled beyond belief, Aumont has actually been one of the better arms. Like Pettibone his WHIP is higher than one would want from a relief pitcher, but he has managed it by bringing the power the big righty is known for, with 18 strikeouts in 18.1 innings pitched.
Fellow rookie relief pitcher J.C. Ramirez has also played well, albeit in a very small sample size. Making his major league debut in 2013, Ramirez has allowed just one walk and struck out four in four innings pitched. Right now, he is pitching better than anyone out of the 'pen.
It is a tough decision between three qualified candidates, but ultimately, the Rookie of the Year goes to... JONATHAN PETTIBONE!
P-Bone, or Jon Petty as the fans have affectionately nicknamed him, has proven that he can handle major league hitters. He has done so with a constant eye toward improvement. And at just 22, he has shown that he will be a fixture in this rotation for years to come.
And the Comeback Player of the Year Goes To...
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LHP Cliff Lee, RF Domonic Brown, 2B Chase Utley
Perhaps one of the hardest things to do in baseball is to put a bad season behind you and come back stronger and better the next year. It takes a lot of hard work in the offseason, a strong mentality and renewed confidence.
But most importantly, it is about never giving up.
Of the three nominees, one made his comeback after missing half of the previous season to injury, and two of them showed that one bad season does not a bad player make.
Cliff Lee finished 2012 with some of the worst numbers of his career, including just six wins in 30 starts. But Lee did have a respectable 3.16 ERA and cracked the 200-strikeout mark for just the second time in his career.
Lee was not satisfied and has so far come back strong in 2013. He has already topped that win total with nine in 2013 and is besting that ERA at 2.59.
Chase Utley's future looked bleak after yet another season that he spent mostly on the DL. Playing in just 83 games, Utley posted the worst single-season average (.256) since his rookie year. Additionally, Utley had just 45 RBI, 48 runs and 11 homers.
The Phillies former All-Star second baseman has already reached 11 HR, doing so in 56 games played so far. He has 30 RBI and 34 runs scored and is batting .279 with 11 doubles and two triples.
Of course, Domonic Brown is a worthy candidate too. He came back from a poor showing in 2012 to increase his batting average by a whopping 45 points. His 22 home runs in 2013 are 10 more than his career total entering the season of 12.
The race was tight, as each was deserving. But the Comeback Player of the Year award has to go to...CHASE UTLEY!
Resilience, determination, dedication and no knowledge of the words "give up" are what make Utley this year's Comeback Player of the Year. He has shown that injuries aren't the end of the world for a player, and he certainly has recaptured some of that talent that first endeared him to fans early in his career.
Utley's season truly embodies the meaning of the word "comeback."
And the MVP Goes To...
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA
OF Domonic Brown, 3B Michael Young
When the 2013 season began, most people probably didn't expect Domonic Brown, someone who at best has been a platoon outfielder in his three previous seasons with the Phillies, would be leading the team in most offensive categories including hits, home runs and RBI.
Most also probably didn't expect that Michael Young would lead or be among the top in the rest.
But that is exactly the case.
Acquiring Young has proven to be one of the best offensive moves the Phillies made this offseason. He has scored 33 runs, which is third-best on the team, and is tied with Jimmy Rollins for second in hits with 84. Young is also third in doubles, tied for second in triples and second in walks as well.
While his power seems to have waned with age, Young continues to hit for average. He's hitting .285 and has a solid on-base percentage as well.
But where Young has lacked in power and production, Brown has excelled. He leads the team with 22 home runs and also leads the team in RBI with 60. He has become a solid baserunner and has eight steals, caught only once, to prove it. His defense has improved as well.
It has easily been the best season of his career. Brown is poised and building for what could be his first All-Star selection, and a well-deserved one at that.
Bringing two different skill sets, both Brown and Young have been huge assets for the Philliess this season. However only one can be considered the team's best player.
The MVP goes to...DOMONIC BROWN!
Simply put, Brown has impressed in 2013.
With renewed confidence and a shorter and more compact swing, the young outfielder has made believers out of even his strongest critics. He has finally come along the way the organization had always anticipated, and there is great hope that Brown will be among the ones leading the future core to another World Series run.
And the Gold Glove Goes To...
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA
1B Ryan Howard, C Erik Kratz, OF Domonic Brown
Winning a Gold Glove and the distinction of best defensive player at a position—or in this case, on a team—takes a heck of a lot of concentration and a certain amount of luck. Defense can be the hardest part of the game, and quick reflexes are a must.
Being 6'4" and able to corral some wild throws doesn't hurt either.
Despite a home run drought that no one was expecting, Ryan Howard has been stellar at first.
Having prided himself on improved defense, this could finally be the year that Howard takes the NL Gold Glove at the end of the season. And he certainly deserves it; Howard has committed just one error. Additionally, he has 41 assists, 53 putouts and a much-improved range factor of 8.85. His fielding percentage is a fantastic .998.
But Howard isn't the only one that has improved his defense for the 2013 season. So too has Domonic Brown.
Always seen as more of an offensive prospect, Brown has committed just two errors with four assists. He has 126 putouts and a fielding percentage of .985.
Seeing significantly more time behind the backstop, Erik Kratz has proven to be a pretty decent defensive catcher as well as offensive threat. He too has just one error and 16 assists. Important for a catcher, Kratz has allowed just one passed ball and has a fielding percentage of .997.
They have all defended their positions well, but one has been better than the rest.
The Gold Glove goes to...RYAN HOWARD!
His offense may be slow coming, but no one can deny that Howard has been a beast at first this season. He has saved many an errant throw from going into the stands and stopped about every ball that has come his way.
He is more than deserving of the NL Gold Glove at season's end if he just keeps doing what he has been doing.
And the Silver Slugger Goes To...
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
OF Domonic Brown, 3B Michael Young, UTIL Kevin Frandsen
An award given to the best offensive performer at each position, or in this case on the team, the Silver Slugger is mainly determined on the slash line of AVG/OBP/SLG as well as general impressions of offensive value each brings to the team.
And each of the three nominees has brought exactly this type of impact to the Phillies.
Michael Young is hitting .285. He has a .341 OBP. For a Phillies team that has been pretty average Young's offensive contributions have been vital. Especially since he is batting .296 when there are runners in scoring position and two outs.
Domonic Brown far and away leads the team in slugging and OPS but falls in the middle of the pack with average (.280) and on-base percentage (.321).
But of the three nominees, perhaps the one most worthy of a silver slugger is Kevin Frandsen.
As a utility player, Frandsen hasn't played as much as Young and Brown. But when he has played, he has been great.
Pitchers excluded, Frandsen is third on the team in average (.284), first in OBP (.379) and sixth in SLG (.443). Most importantly though, Frandsen is perhaps the most clutch player on the team. He is hitting .364 with two outs and runners in scoring position.
And the Silver Slugger goes to...KEVIN FRANDSEN!
While Young has got Frandsen in average and Brown has got him in slugging, Frandsen has the best on-base percentage on the team and is in the top of the other categories, whereas Brown and Young are average at best in the areas where they don't lead.
And of course, Frandsen's clutch ability goes a long way to his distinction as the best overall all-around bat on the team.