Major League Baseball rewards the best players in the league each season with a bevy of postseason awards.
But giving out awards is too much fun to only do once a year, so as we approach the All-Star break—the ceremonial midpoint in the baseball season—let's take a look back and give out some midseason awards.
We'll do all conventional awards, but first, here are 10 unconventional awards to whet your appetite:
10. The Craig Biggio Award: Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers
Bill James once said Craig Biggio was the 35th greatest player of all time and, to support this point, cited Biggio's remarkable 1997 season in which he got hit by a pitch a shocking 34 times while at the same time hitting into no double plays.
While Biggio isn't the 35th best player of all time, but those numbers are, nonetheless, shocking.
We give the midseason Craig Biggio Award to Rickie Weeks, who in addition to having accumulated 407 plate appearances by the All-Star break, has managed to be hit by a pitch a league-leading 15 times while hitting into only one double play all season.
9. The Nolan Ryan Award: Roy Oswalt, Houston Astros
In 1987, while with the Houston Astros, Nolan Ryan accomplished the remarkable feat of leading the National League in strikeouts and ERA while finishing the season 8-16.
In 2010, the Astros are at it again. After pitching a one-hitter on Thursday afternoon, Roy Oswalt's ERA is now 3.08, and he has improved his record to 6-10. Those 10 losses lead the National League.
8. The Chris Shelton Award: Jayson Werth, Philadelphia Phillies
In 2006, Chris Shelton got off to an amazing start with the Detroit Tigers, and by May 1, he had 10 home runs, 20 RBI, a .326 batting average, and a .783 slugging percentage. From that point forward, he played so poorly he actually got demoted to Triple-A before August.
Jayson Werth may not get demoted to Lehigh Valley, but he has significantly dropped off of a outstanding early season pace. On May 7, Werth was batting .359 with a .420 on-base percentage and a .689 slugging percentage through 29 games.
He had 16 doubles, which put him on pace for over 80 on the season, and a major league record. He also had 24 runs and 24 RBI, which put him on pace for over about 130 of each.
Since May 7, J-Werth has hit .232 with a .335 on-base percentage and a .414 slugging percentage. He has only 10 doubles in his last 52 games, and he has struck out 53 times.
7. The Ernie Lombardi Award: Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals
Ernie Lombardi was a great hitter. He won two batting titles and finished his career with a lifetime .306 batting average. He was also one of the slowest players in major league history, and led the National League four seperate times in ground out double plays.
Meet Billy Butler. Butler is a great hitter. He already has 25 doubles on the season and he's hitting .327 with a .394 on-base percentage. He already has over 100 hits and 46 RBI.
In baseball history, 132 players have hit into 21 double plays in a single season. The newest member of that club is Billy Butler, who already has 21 in in just 84 games.
6. The Vince Coleman Award: Juan Pierre, Chicago White Sox
Coleman was one of the greatest base-stealers of all time. If he could have gotten on base consistently, he might have stolen 2,000 bases in his career. But he was a terrible baseball player. In 1994, in just 104 games, Coleman stole 50 bases for the Kansas City Royals despite hitting just .240 with an on-base percentage .285.
The current, 2010 major league leader in stolen bases is Juan Pierre, who doesn't seem to be slowing down as he gets older.
Of course, he's only hitting .260 with a .330 on-base percentage, and his slugging percentage is a ridiculous .294– but he's has had several plate appearances and lots of trips to first base, and it has resulted in more than a few stolen bases.
5. The Rob Deer Award: Mark Reynolds, Arizona Diamondbacks
Deer was a true outcome player. When he came to the plate, he was either going to walk, strike out, or hit a home run. In 1987, in just 134 games, he hit 28 home runs, was walked 86 times, and struck out 186 times; he also hit .238.
Mark Reynolds is the perfect mix of Deer and Dave Kingman– who was Deer without the walks. Reynolds ranks eighth in the MLB with 19 home runs. unfortunately for the Diamondbacks he is accompaning his homeruns with a .216 batting average and 116 strikeouts.
Reynolds has set the major league record for strikeouts in the last two season (with 204 and 223) he is on pace to do it again in 2010
4. The Dave Bush Award: Brandon Morrow, Toronto Blue Jays
Looking only at Dave Bush's peripherals, you would swear he is a great pitcher. In 2006, he led the National League with a 4.37 K:BB ratio, and he struck out over seven batters per nine innings. But he went 12-11 with a 4.41 ERA that year.
In 2010, Brandon Morrow is one of four major league pitchers averaging over 10 strikeouts per game; the other three—Clayton Kershaw, Jered Weaver, and Tim Lincecum—all are Cy Young candidates.
Morrow, meanwhile, is 5-6 with a 4.69 ERA and is not in the mix.
3. The Carlos Silva Award: Cliff Lee, Seattle Mariners
It is one of the sickest statistics you'll ever see: in 2005, Carlos Silva walked nine batters in 188.1 innings pitched, which is the fewest batters ever walked by a pitcher throwing at least 160 innings in a season.
Silva had an unworldly 7.89 K:BB ratio that year—the 15th best all time and eighth best since 1900—despite managing only 71 K's.
In 2010, Lee is giving Silva a run for his money. In 103.2 innings pitched, Lee has allowed only six walks on the season.
The difference between Lee and Silva is that Lee is also striking batters out regularly, and currently has a 14.83 K:BB ratio, which would distantly be the greatest K:BB season of all time.
2. The Red Ruffing Award: Carlos Silva, Chicago Cubs
In 1928 and 1929, Red Ruffing was one of the worst pitchers in baseball. He led the American League in losses both seasons, going 19-47 over the stretch.
After starting the 1930 season 0-3, the Red Sox shipped him off to the New York Yankees, and the rest is history. From 1930 to 1946, lost two years because of World War II, Ruffing went 231-124 with a 3.44 ERA.
Today, Ruffing is in the Hall of Fame.
For the last four years, Carlos Silva has been a terrible pitcher. For Minnesota and Seattle, he has gone 29-47 with a 5.60 ERA and 83 home runs allowed. He has given up a shocking 729 hits in 566.0 innings pitched, which is "What are you still doing in baseball?" type stuff.
Before the 2010 season, the Cubs took Silva off the Mariners hands in exchange for problem-child Milton Bradley. Since then, Silva has been a different pitcher: 9-2, 2.96 ERA, under a hit per inning pitched, and a 4.38 K:BB ratio.
Who is this masked man?
1. The Jamey Wright Award: Ricky Romero, Toronto Blue Jays
I once nicknamed Jamey Wright "The Terrible Machine " because of his awful combination of home runs allowed and hit batters. Despite having pitched only 1,700 career innings, Wright ranks 31st all-time in batters hit by a pitch.
Contrary to what I predicted, Ricky Romero is having a lovely season. He is currently 6-5 with a 3.39 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 114.0 innings pitched. However, Romero currently leads the majors with 15 HBP's.
How bad a number is this at the All-Star break? Only 32 pitchers have topped 20 HBP's in a single season since 1901, and Romero is on pace to become the first player since 1901 to break 30.
My midseason 2010 conventional awards:
AL Most Valuable Player: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Either Cabrera or Justin Morneau. Ask me tomorrow, and I'll say Morneau. Then the next day, I'll say Cabrera again.
NL Most Valuable Player: Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres
To all you Joey Votto fans, I say Votto is having a great season, but I think Gonzalez is the most underrated player in baseball and is having a deceptively amazing season.
AL Cy Young Award: David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
Not nearly as strong a field as the NL, but I think it is Price.
NL Cy Young Award: Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies
To all you Josh Johnson fans, I say Johnson is having a fabulous year, but if Johnson had to pitch at Coors Field and Jimenez could pitch at Sun Life Stadium, the difference between them would be night and day.
AL Rookie of the Year: Brennan Boesch, Detroit Tigers
I never in a million years thought he'd be on the team this early in the season. And yet he looks like an All-Star.
Neftali Feliz is another good candidate, but I don't like constantly giving the award to closers.
NL Rookie of the Year: Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves
The award is Heyward's to lose, but he may have some trouble from Stephen Strasburg and Mike Leake if he can't get healthy and get back on track.
AL Fireman of the Year: Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
He's somehow having the best season of his career. I don't get it.
NL Fireman of the Year: Billy Wagner, Atlanta Braves
He's somehow having the best season of his career. I don't get it.
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