Your MLB Midseason Award Winners
Before the second half of the Major League Baseball season gets underway following the All-Star break, a reflection of the first half of the season is in order. What better way to do that than than hand out MLB's midseason awards?
With the first half of the 2014 season over and done with, several people around the sport have stood out, setting themselves up to make a run at the game's most prestigious awards. If the season ended today, who would win? Who has meant the most to his team? Which pitcher has dominated more than any other? Which rookies have played as if they have been in the league for years? Which managers have gotten the most out of their teams?
Take a look and see who deserves the American and National League MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year as baseball's midpoint passes by.
AL Manager of the Year
No manager in baseball has been better than Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics, as evidenced by the fact that no team in baseball has been better than the Oakland Athletics. At 59-36, the A's have the best record in the majors. Only one other team in baseball, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (.606), even has a winning percentage over .600. Oakland sits at .621 heading into the second half.
Sure, the A's were expected to be good, so why praise Melvin? The answer is that nothing has gone as planned in Oakland this year.
Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, two of the team's top starters, were lost for the year thanks to Tommy John surgery. Jim Johnson, a guy the notoriously small-market A's dished out $10 million to, failed miserably as the team's closer in the early going.
However, Melvin did not panic. With an abundance of pitchers on the roster, Melvin just had to figure out which names to pencil in where. Jesse Chavez was added to the rotation and has put up a 3.14 ERA in 19 starts. Scott Kazmir, after a solid comeback season with Cleveland in 2013, has revived his career and has put up the numbers of a true ace for Melvin. Meanwhile, Sean Doolittle has become the team's primary closer, posting a 2.89 on his way to the All-Star Game.
If Melvin keeps pushing the right buttons, there is a good chance Oakland will be playing deep into October.
Honorable Mentions: Buck Showalter, Joe Girardi, Lloyd McClendon.
NL Manger of the Year
Unlike Oakland, not much was expected of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Crew was just an afterthought in the minds of experts heading into the year. Now, with a half a season in the books, Roenicke's Brewers own the second-best record in the National League at 53-43 and are in first place in the NL Central.
They begin the second half with a one-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Roenicke has seen a lot of his players either blossom into stars or return to the stars they once were this year.
Jonathan Lucroy is having arguably the best season of any catcher in baseball. Aramis Ramirez is on pace to put up the same type of numbers he did in his 20s. Carlos Gomez has transformed into one of the best (and polarizing) young players in the game. Scooter Gennett was given the job at second base and is now hitting .309. Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez is back to being one of the best closers in baseball.
With the Cards and Pittsburgh Pirates close behind, the Central race will no doubt be a tight one. However, Roenicke has his players and all of baseball believing in the Milwaukee Brewers. It will be interesting to see if they can keep it up in the second half.
Honorable Mentions: Don Mattingly, Bruce Bochy, Matt Williams.
AL Rookie of the Year
This time last year, Jose Abreu was playing ball in Cuba, making just a few hundred dollars. Now, he is the richest Cuban defector in major league history, and he is earning every penny.
This past offseason the Chicago White Sox signed Abreu to a six-year, $68 million contract. This past half of the baseball season Abreu led the big leagues in homers, belting 29 dingers along with 73 RBI, a .292 average, and a .630 slugging percentage, also best in the majors. The numbers are staggering, even more so considering he missed a good two weeks of the season.
The heir to Paul Konerko, a difficult task on its own, Abreu has overcome insurmountable odds. Leaving one's home country and family behind and assimilating to a new country and culture could take a toll on a player, but Abreu is playing like he's been a major league player for years.
Some may say he is not a rookie, that he has experience playing elsewhere. That notion is ridiculous, as Abreu has dealt with more challenges than any "true" rookie ever has. It is his first year in the majors, and that makes him qualified for the award. If the season ended today, there is no question he should be the AL Rookie of the Year.
Honorable Mentions: Masahiro Tanaka, George Springer, Matt Shoemaker.
NL Rookie of the Year
Sometimes it seems as if Billy Hamilton is flying around the base paths.
When the 22-year-old runs, it is one of the most exciting things that happens in baseball that day. In what has been an injury-riddled season for the Cincinnati Reds, the rookie has brought a much-needed burst of energy to a lineup that will go without Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips once the season resumes.
A sparkplug player if there ever was one, Hamilton is batting .285 with five home runs and 38 runs driven in. However, the fun does not start until he gets on base. In 2011 he stole 103 bases in the minors. In 2012 he set a minor league record with 155 swipes. Technically, his production went down in 2013, as he only (only!) stole 75 bags.
This year Hamilton has 38 stolen bases at the big league level and is third in the majors behind the Dodgers' Dee Gordon (43) and the Astros' Jose Altuve (41).
With Shin-Soo Choo departing for the Texas Rangers in the offseason, the door was left wide open for Hamilton to take over as the Reds' everyday center fielder. One could say he ran right through it.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Owings, Gregory Polanco, Jeurys Familia.
AL Cy Young
An 11-2 record. A 2.12 ERA. A 0.901 WHIP. 154 strikeouts in 144.1 innings. Just five home runs and 25 walks allowed. An All-Star Game start at Target Field in Minnesota.
That is what Felix Hernandez's resume for the first half of the season looks like. Not bad, right?
While there have been a handful of pitchers putting up impressive numbers this season, none have dominated their opponents like Hernandez has.
Including the stats above, Hernandez ranks amongst the top five in almost every major pitching category. He is tied for second in wins, fourth in ERA, second in strikeouts, second in innings pitched, fourth in WHIP, tied for first in winning percentage (.846) and starts (20), second in WAR amongst pitchers (4.4), third in HR/9 (0.312), fourth in adjusted ERA (177) and second in Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) (2.04).
King Felix's stat line alone should strike fear into the hearts of opposing hitters. His spectacular campaign is one of the reasons the Seattle Mariners find themselves seven games over .500 and in position for a playoff run.
With Hernandez on the hill every fifth day and a steady team around him, the Mariners just may find themselves playing October baseball for the first time since 2001.
Honorable Mentions: Masahiro Tanaka, Scott Kazmir, Mark Buehrle, Chris Sale, Garrett Richards.
NL Cy Young
If the awards votes were today, this would undoubtedly be the toughest decision. Clayton Kershaw or Adam Wainwright? Clayton Kershaw or Adam Wainwright!? Clayton Kershaw or Adam Wainwright!
There is no wrong answer, but the answer here is the Los Angeles Dodgers ace. Much respect goes out to Wainwright and the absolutely phenomenal season he is having, but Kershaw gets the nod right now.
Just when you think the kid cannot get any better, he proves you wrong. His 1.78 ERA is the best amongst his peers, and his 11-2 record is no small showing, either. His 4.2 WAR is fourth amongst pitchers and his 1.60 FIP is another mark that leads the majors.
Perhaps what gives Kershaw the edge over Wainwright are the performances his numbers have transcended to.
The first was a no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies on June 18, a no-hitter that would have been a perfect game if not for an ill-timed Hanley Ramirez error. Kershaw carved up the Rockies' hitters with ease, striking out 15 on his way to one of the best-pitched games in history.
Following that, Kershaw continued to carve up the opposition, going on a 41-inning scoreless streak that ended right before the All-Star break.
Again, there is no wrong answer here. It just may be that Kershaw has had more feats that stood out.
Honorable Mentions: Wainwright, Johnny Cueto, Alfredo Simon, Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta.
There should no longer be a debate over who the best player in baseball is. The answer is obvious.
It is Mike Trout.
Trout has possibly had the best first three years of a career in major league history. So, it should not come as a surprise that the Angels' 22-year-old superstar is once again putting up prolific numbers worthy of MVP consideration. Heading into the half, Trout will have a .310 average, 26 doubles, 22 home runs, 73 RBI and 10 stolen bases. He was the only player to belt 20 home runs and steal 10 bases by the All-Star break.
As if the bat and legs were not enough, Trout has only made two errors in the field in 213 chances this season.
His 1.005 OPS and 5.5 WAR are the best in the American League. He has reached base and created more runs than any other player in the junior circuit as well. His 182 OPS+, 209 total bases and 53 extra-base hits are better than any other player in the game.
To break Trout down in a more simplistic fashion, he can hit for contact and power, run, field and throw. He is the complete package, the perfect baseball player. He was the All-Star Game MVP. He is the first-half MVP.
If he keeps doing the remarkable things he does, he will be the American League MVP come season's end.
Honorable Mentions: Miguel Cabrera, Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Jose Bautista, Victor Martinez.
Mike Trout may be the best this game has to offer, but Troy Tulowitzki is having a special year, putting up unearthly numbers in the first half.
The Colorado Rockies shortstop has a major league-leading 5.7 WAR, .345 batting average, .435 OBP, 1.048 OBPS and 71 runs scored. His .613 slugging percentage and 21 home runs lead the entire National League. Additionally, he has made four errors in 387 chances and is boasting a .990 fielding percentage at the game's toughest position.
Yes, Tulowitzki's home and away splits are like Jekyll and Hyde (.433/.514/.767/1.281 home versus .265/.367/.463/.830 road), but that does not change the fact that he is having an overall monstrous 2014 campaign.
Tulo is doing nothing short of putting up a season for the ages. When the real votes are tallied after the season, the Rockies' lack of a postseason appearance will likely (and rightfully so) remove his name from MVP contention, but for now what Tulowitzki is doing deserves some attention.
He is your first-half NL MVP.
Honorable Mentions: Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright, Paul Goldschmidt.
Agree or disagree? Be sure to comment who you think should win each award below.
All stats were obtained via Baseball-Reference.
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