It’s the perfect time for mid-season Major League Baseball awards.
So, who are my 2010 All-Star Break’s Most Valuable Players, Cy Young award winners, rookies of the year, comeback players of the year, managers of the year, biggest player surprises and disappointments, and biggest team surprises and disappointments?
Let’s begin with the National League MVP. We’ll end with the American League’s biggest team disappointment…
Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal is having an absolutely phenomenal 2010 season, batting .333 heading into tonight’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
And in my opinion, Furcal deserves the nod for the National League’s Most Valuable Player at mid-season.
Beyond the awesome batting average, the speedy shortstop also has 14 stolen bases, 35 runs batted in, 16 doubles, six home runs, and five triples halfway into the 2010 season.
The ten-year veteran is currently on the way to his personal best overall season as a major leaguer. If he keeps up the solid climb after the All-Star break, I have no doubt he’ll be in contention for the NL MVP come season’s end.
But looking at the halfway mark, Furcal and his .514 slugging percentage get my vote in the NL MVP contest.
Has anyone been better at the plate and in clutch situations this season in the American League than Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton?
Hamilton, holding a remarkable .346 batting average at the 2010 All-Star break, has driven in 64 runs this season while belting 22 homers.
The Rangers left fielder has also garnered 25 doubles, 24 walks, seven stolen bases, and two triples this year.
In a career that covers 420 games and counting, Hamilton has increased his overall four-year batting average to .303 with 83 home runs (and plenty more to come).
Texas, by the way, is in first-place in the AL West with an overall record of 50-38.
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright seems to get better, stronger, and more reliable every year in the majors.
At this rate, he’ll be an absolute Cy Young award contender for years to come.
Wainwright, boasting a 13-5 record along with a sparkling 2.11 ERA in 2010 with St. Louis, has pitched four complete games this season (while also picking up his very first shutout).
Meanwhile, over his last 10 games, the Cardinals right-handed ace is 7-3 with a 1.77 ERA—logging 71.1 inning pitched while striking out 70 and allowing just 14 earned runs over that stretch.
Any arguments over Wainwright being in the hunt for the NL Cy Young award?
New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia had a phenomenal 2009 campaign in pinstripes, but this season he appears even stronger.
Sabathia, boasting a 12-3 record with a 3.09 ERA in the 2010 season, has now won 31 games and counting since becoming a member of the Yankees.
This year, Sabathia has tossed two complete games while striking out 104 batters and holding opponents to a .228 batting average.
Over his last 10 starts, the Yankees' southpaw is 8-1 with a 2.80 ERA—striking out 61 over 70.2 innings pitched.
In his last eight starts, Sabathia has pitched at least seven innings per game while compiling an 8-0 record during that stretch.
Yes, my rookie of the year honor in the National League is going to a starting pitcher.
But how could you argue against the rising star in the St. Louis Cardinals rotation, lefty Jaime Garcia?
Although he DID appear in 10 games (starting one) in 2008, I’d absolutely consider this Garcia’s rookie season as a St. Louis starter.
The Cardinals southpaw currently holds an 8-4 record with an incredible 2.17 ERA over 17 games.
In addition, Garcia has struck out 80 batters while pitching 99.2 innings for St. Louis heading into tonight’s MLB All-Star Game.
Over his last 10 games, meanwhile, Garcia holds a 4-2 record with a 2.77 ERA—striking out 44 over 55.1 innings pitched during that stretch.
American League rookie Brennan Boesch, an outfielder for the Detroit Tigers, is hands-down my favorite for the AL ROY honors in 2010.
Boesch, batting .342 with 49 RBIs at the MLB All-Star break, has appeared in 65 games for the Tigers this season.
In addition, the southpaw leftfielder has 19 doubles, 12 homers, and three triples to go along with 21 walks and two stolen bases.
Over his last 10 games, Boesch is batting .389 with 14 hits and four RBIs.
Will he continue to produce to the same tune Detroit fans have witnessed through the first 88 games in 2010 in the second half?
If so, you can bet on seeing Boesch’s name near the top of final list of AL Rookie of the Year voting.
So far, there’s no doubt he’s got my vote.
The 2010 MLB National League Comeback Player of the Year honors, as of mid-season, go to Colorado Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo.
Olivo, who is batting .325 with 42 RBIs at the All-Star break, has appeared as the battery mate in 63 games this season for the Rockies.
And he’s made solid use of his time at the plate, garnering 11 home runs, eight doubles, and five triples.
Over his last 10 games, the right-handed catcher has been absolutely on fire—batting a remarkable .474 with 18 hits, 11 runs, and eight RBIs.
If Olivo can continue his torrid pace in the second half of the season for Colorado, he’ll be a no-brainer for the NL Comeback Player of the Year.
Ending the 2009 season with the Los Angeles Angels below the .300 batting average mark may have been tough on Vladimir Guerrero.
But he’s had a phenomenal season in 2010 as a designated hitter with the Texas Rangers, and he’s my personal mid-season American League Comeback Player of the Year.
Guerrero, batting .319 at the MLB All-Star break, has blasted 20 home runs this season with the Rangers.
In addition, the Texas DH has 75 RBIs, 21 walks, 14 doubles, and a triple—along with a .554 slugging percentage.
The Rangers, currently in first-place in the AL West, will need Guerrero to continue driving in runs with ease as Texas aims to dethrone the New York Yankees and make a coveted trip to the World Series.
You want my mid-season vote for National League Manager of the Year? San Diego Padres skipper Bud Black.
Black, a former southpaw pitcher in the majors, has helped guide San Diego to a 51-37 overall record at the All-Star break, putting the Padres in first-place at the halfway mark of the 2010 MLB season in the NL West.
The manager for San Diego since the 2007 season, this year is—by far—looking like it will be Black’s most successful as a skipper.
Will it be enough to win him the NL Manager of the Year honors come season's end?
A lot of that, at least in my opinion, will come down to how San Diego plays in the second half of the season.
But at this time, Black is a no-brainer winner for the NL Manager of the Year.
Texas Rangers skipper Ron Washington, a former MLB infielder, has helped guide his squad to a phenomenal 50-38 record entering tonight’s 2010 All-Star Game.
Washington, manager of the Rangers since 2007, is entering his fourth year at the helm, and it’s looking like it may result in his best finish if things continue as planned in Texas.
A former base coach with the New York Mets and Oakland Athletics, Washington spent his final playing days as a member of the Houston Astros, appearing in his final game on July 7, 1989.
Twenty one years later, he’s got to be happy about how things are turning out.
Especially since Washington took over a Texas Rangers organization that appears to be getting tougher and deeper every single season.
A large part of Washington taking home the AL Manager of the Year hardware depends on how the Rangers play in the second half of the season.
But halfway through the 2010 campaign, Washington is easily my No. 1 in terms of those honors.
Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez has been nothing short of incredible, remarkable, phenomenal, or any other synonym you can think of entering the 2010 MLB All-Star break.
Jimenez holds a 15-1 record with a 2.20 ERA and could easily be the NL Cy Young winner if he keeps things up in the second half of the season.
Through 18 games started for the Rockies, the right-handed ace has thrown three complete games, along with two shutouts, while striking out 113 batters and holding opponents to a .198 batting average.
Over his last 10 starts, Jimenez is 8-0 with a 3.06 ERA—striking out 59 over 70.2 innings pitched.
Oh yeah, halfway through the season the Colorado starting pitcher has already matched his career-high in wins with plenty of baseball to come.
The 2010 American League Biggest Player Surprise honors at mid-season would have to go to New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner.
Batting .309 through 81 games with New York this season, Gardner has been a major lift for the ever present Yankees.
In addition, Gardner has garnered 29 RBIs, six doubles, five homers, and four triples while walking 37 times and stealing 25 bases.
Boasting a .415 slugging percentage and a .396 on-base percentage halfway through the 2010 campaign, Gardner gets my vote for the AL’s Biggest Player Surprise.
Talk about a disappointment in the National League: Los Angeles Dodgers leftfielder Garrett Anderson has been a complete dud in 2010.
Batting .179 with 32 strikeouts and just 11 RBIs, Anderson is having a dismal season with the Dodgers.
Over his last 10 games, Anderson is batting a mere .100 with just two hits.
I’d call that disappointing.
And a no-brainer for my mid-season NL Biggest Player Disappointment honors.
Halfway through the 2010 MLB season, it’s looking as though Cleveland Indians pitcher Kerry Wood is heading towards the worst season of his 12-year career.
Entering the All-Star break, Wood is 1-4 through 23 appearances as a reliever. He has a 6.30 ERA, although he does have eight saves (out of 11 opportunities).
Through 20 innings pitched, Wood has allowed 21 hits and 15 runs (14 earned) along with walking 11 batters and giving up three home runs.
Since coming out of the bullpen in 2007 with the Chicago Cubs, Wood has ended the season—albeit just once—with a near career-high ERA of 4.25 (2009 with Cleveland), although this season appears to be heading towards complete disaster.
There’s still time to turn things around, there’s no doubt about it.
But at mid-season, Wood gets my nod for the AL’s Biggest Player Disappointment award.
At the halfway mark of the 2010 Major League Baseball season, the Cincinnati Reds lead the National League in batting with a team average of .272—they also happen to be in the hunt for October’s postseason play.
Surprised? I am, no matter how weak the NL is this season.
Cincinnati also has a league-leading 843 hits and 423 RBIs (over 90 games) and is second in the league in team home runs (108) behind the Milwaukee Brewers (110).
Entering the All-Star break with an overall record of 49-41, the Reds currently have a one-game lead over the sizzling hit St. Louis Cardinals.
Regardless of whether the Cards overcome the Reds, however, Cincinnati will still have a legitimate chance at postseason play as a Wild Card team at the very worst.
The 2010 MLB mid-season American League Biggest Team Surprise honors would have to go to the Detroit Tigers.
On a side note and to Rangers fans, many are surprised by the season the guys down in Arlington are having (but I’m not one of them). Texas has always had a solid team and a solid manager. It was only a matter of time before those pieces started falling into place for a breakthrough 2010 campaign.
I digress; back to the Tigers…
Detroit enters the All-Star break with a 48-38 overall record, half a game behind the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox (49-38). They hold a team batting average of .275, good enough for fourth-place in the league.
The Tigers are also near the top of the league in runs and hits, regardless of the team playing a league-low 86 games entering the All-Star break.
And the only obstacles standing in Detroit’s way (other than the division-rival White Sox) appear to be Tampa Bay (54-34, second-place in AL East) and Boston (51-37, third-place in AL East).
Do the Tigers have enough left in the tank to end the 2010 season with a solid second half surge? We’ll have to wait and see.
In my personal opinion, no team in the National League has been more disappointing than the Houston Astros.
Thankfully, the Astros are not the WORST team in the league, but they are pretty damn close and are absolutely in the NL cellar.
Entering the 2010 MLB All-Star break, Houston holds a 36-53 overall record (fifth-place in the NL Central) and is 12.5 games behind division-leading Cincinnati.
The Astros are also in the bottom three in the majors in terms of team batting average, with Houston batting a lowly .238 through 89 games.
Other categories where they remain in the cellar in terms of overall league team stats include: RBIs, home runs, hits, and runs.
With a dismal first half in the rear view mirror, I’m fairly certain some major changes are heading Houston’s way in the very near future. The first one is already being talked about, as the team could soon part ways with ace Roy Oswalt.
The NL’s Biggest Team Disappointment award at mid-season is a pretty easy decision in my opinion, with Houston winning the honor hands-down.
So, what team has been the most disappointing in the American League in 2010? My vote goes to the Baltimore Orioles.
Baltimore, entering the All-Star break with the worst record in the majors at 29-59, is in the league cellar in terms of team RBIs, home runs, hits, and runs.
The Orioles also have the worst team ERA in the AL (4.99). It's above only the NL’s Pittsburgh Pirates (5.10) and Arizona Diamondbacks (5.27) in overall MLB team stats.
In 2010, Baltimore is 16-25 at home while going 13-34 on the road.
I’d call that extremely disappointing for a team that has a decent number of veteran players with high hopes of making 2010 a competitive season.
So much for that theory…
Let me know below…
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org