Believe it or not, the season is half over. Interleague play is over. And now, we have officially reached the All-Star break.
That means, it is time for teams to decide if they are buyers or sellers as we approach the trade deadline. It is also time to hand out 2010 mid-season awards.
These are imaginary awards—not real by any means. But if the season were to end today, these are the men I feel would receive the following accolades.
Tim Hudson missed the majority of the 2009 season after having Tommy John Surgery in August of 2008. He didn't make his first start of the season until September 1, when he defeated the Florida Marlins. All told, Hudson made seven starts for the Braves, his lowest total of any season in his career.
But the 2010 season has been a completely different story for the veteran right-hander. After shutting out the Mets in his last start of the first half on Saturday, Hudson has a 9-4 record, a 2.30 ERA, and a 61/43 K/BB ratio. He looks primed and ready to have a very productive second half.
So Close: R.A. Dickey, Scott Rolen, Angel Pagan, Juan Uribe, Troy Glaus, Corey Hart, and Jose Reyes.
Another member of the "Tommy John Club," Shaun Marcum underwent the operation late in the 2008 season, thereby forcing (coupled with back pains) him to sit out the entire 2009 campaign. But the 2010 season has seen Marcum return with a vengeance, like so many Tommy John "victims" seem to do.
Marcum has made 17 starts for the Blue Jays so far, and sports a 7-4 record with a 3.44 ERA. His 88/27 K/BB ratio is rather impressive. In fact, Marcum has allowed more than one walk in a game in just six of his 17 starts (and two of those starts only resulted in two free passes each). He has really solidified the Jays' rotation, despite losing Roy Halladay during the offseason.
Marcum was placed on the 15-day DL back on July 2 with right elbow inflammation, but should be ready to return just after the All-Star break. And with the raging offense of the Toronto Blue Jays, the new Jays' ace should see very similar results in the second half of the season.
Great Efforts: Francisco Liriano, Magglio Ordonez, Ben Sheets, Jose Guillen, Fausto Carmona, and Vladimir Guerrero.
Of all the hot top prospects to reach the big leagues in the National League this season—Stephen Strasburg, Ike Davis, Buster Posey, Mike Stanton, Jason Heyward, and Pedro Alvarez to name a few—Jaime Garcia of the St. Louis Cardinals has really "flown" under the radar.
Garcia was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 22nd round of the 2005 draft, and has been a real sensation in 2010. Though he actually made his Major League debut in 2008, he only appeared in 10 games, thus allowing him to keep his rookie status for this year—as well as a torn ligament in his left elbow that kept him out of the entire 2009 season.
But Garica has been a remarkable (yet quiet) story in 2010. He has a record of 8-4 and a nifty 2.17 ERA through his first 17 starts of the year. He's allowed three earned runs or fewer in all but one of his starts, including five in which he gave up zero earned runs. It's a real shame that this 24-year-old lefty is not going to Anaheim as a member of the National League All-Star team.
Fun fact: the last member of the St. Louis Cardinals to win the Rookie of the Year award? Some guy named Albert in 2001.
Didn't Quite Make the Cut: Ike Davis, John Ely, Stephen Strasburg, Mike Stanton, Mike Leake, and Jason Heyward.
It wasn't supposed to be Brennan Boesch who wins the American League Rookie of the Year award for the Detroit Tigers. That honor was supposed to go to Austin Jackson, whom the Tigers acquired from the Yankees in a three-team deal back in November.
But after a scorching start, Jackson has tailed off. Meanwhile, Boesch, who has been on a constant tear since his 2-for-4 debut back on April 23, appears to be running away with the award. For the first half, Boesch is hitting .342 with 12 homers and 49 RBI. Boesch was drafted by Detroit in the third round of the 2006 draft, and has become a staple out in left field thus far in 2010.
Close, But No Cigar: Jackson, Carlos Santana, and Neftali Feliz.
If I told you that at the All-Star break the San Diego Padres would be two games in first place, you might have thought I was crazy. But it's reality. Despite having a roster full of young and inexperienced players, the Padres have certainly opened some eyes in the first half.
And even with the great talent on the ballclub, the reason for the season has to start with manager Bud Black.
Since taking over the helm of the Padres in 2007, he has a losing record of 278-297. But this year, Black has a plethora of talented young pitching and some timely hitting which has helped the Fathers to a 51-37 record in the first half of 2010, certainly the pleasant surprise story of the season.
Not Quite There: Dusty Baker, Jim Tracy, Bobby Cox, and Bruce Bochy.
There was hardly any question coming into the 2010 season that the Rangers had enough offense to contend in the American League Western division. With the addition of Vladimir Guerrero to go along with Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, and Elvis Andrus, the Rangers lineup is stacked from top to bottom.
But as always seemingly with this team, the pitching staff was a big question mark. They brought in the oft-injured righty Rich Harden to lead a rather inexperienced staff. Harden is (not surprisingly) currently on the 15-day disabled list.
Yet the Rangers lead the Angels and the rest of the AL West by 4 1/2 games. Skipper Ron Washington has done a great job managing a lot of different personalities, while dealing with some personal issues as well. Much of the Rangers success this season has to be accredited to ol' Wash.
And with the recent acquisition of ace Cliff Lee, the Rangers pitching woes may be reduced in the second half. Can we just hand the AL West title over to the Rangers now?
Contenders: Ozzie Guillen, Ron Gardenhire, Joe Maddon, and Jim Leyland.
This may be the toughest award to hand out right now. Pitching (and young pitching especially) has really stolen the game back from the hitters. Guys like Ubaldo Jimenez, who pitched the first no-hitter in Rockies history, "Mr. Perfect" Roy Halladay and youngster Adam Wainwright have all pitched up to Cy Young's standards.
But perhaps none has been greater in the first half than the Florida Marlins' Josh Johnson. Coming off an eight-inning shutout of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Johnson's ERA currently sits at 1.70, good for tops in baseball. He already has 123 strikeouts (second in the NL), and a 9-3 record for a sub-par Marlins club. Another successful Tommy John surgery story, Johnson has now reached the level of elite pitcher.
Maybe Next Year: Tim Lincecum, Jamie Garcia, Jimenez, Halladay, Wainwright, Yovanni Gallardo, and Mat Latos.
It seems the Boston Red Sox have spent more time in hospitals than clubhouses during the first half of 2010. In the last few weeks, the team has lost Mike Lowell, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek, Clay Buchholz, and Victor Martinez to injuries. Add in DL mainstays Josh Beckett, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, and Daisuke Matsuzaka, and it's been a rough go-around for Terry Francona.
But so far, the injury bug has not found its way to Jon Lester, the young left-hander who has been lights out on the mound. He currently sits at 11-3 with a 2.78 ERA and 124 strikeouts. He has allowed just six home runs so far, and is headed to his very first All-Star Game. The 26 year-old Lester has developed into a real leader on an injury-riddled squad.
Almost: David Price, Felix Hernandez, Jered Weaver, Cliff Lee, and C.C. Sabathia.
One of the biggest surprises in baseball, the Cincinnati Reds sit one game ahead of the Cardinals in first place in the NL Central. They've gotten good pitching from Johnny Queto and rookie Mike Leake. Scott Rolen was a great addition and has become a true leader in the clubhouse.
But Joey Votto has really come into his own this season, and can be looked at as the reason the Reds are where they are right now.
Votto is tied with Adam Dunn for the most home runs in the National League, with 22. His 60 RBI are good for a seventh placed tie in the league. And his .314 average has him tied for sixth.
Votto is surging into the break, having hit in all but three games this month so far, and if this impressive display keeps up, the Cardinals and the rest of the Central Division could be in for a long second half.
Close Calls: David Wright, Albert Pujols, Andre Ethier, Martin Prado, Rolen, and Carlos Gonzalez.
It's about time that Miguel Cabrera won an MVP award, isn't it? He's finished among the top five a few times during his still young career, but he has yet to receive that trophy. The 2010 season could change all that.
The 27 year-old is on fire right now. He either leads or is in second in all triple crown categories: second in the American League with 22 home runs, tied for first with a .346 batting average, and leads the league with 77 RBI. He also leads all of baseball with a .651 slugging percentage.
The Tigers begin the second half of the season just a half game behind the White Sox for the lead in the AL Central. If Miguel Cabrera maintains this type of production, we could be seeing Detroit in the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Sorry Guys: Robinson Cano, Josh Hamilton, Paul Konerko, Kevin Youkilis, and Vernon Wells.