2011 MLB Season: (Almost) Midseason Individual Player Awards Preview

Josh BurtonContributor IIIJune 14, 2011

2011 MLB Season: (Almost) Midseason Individual Player Awards Preview

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    Most MLB teams are at least 64 games into this 2011 season and we all know that 64 is about two-fifths of 162 which is how many games are in a MLB season. Many things can change from now and by the end of the year, but it is far enough into the season to start predicting which players will win some of the awards.

AL Most Valuable Player

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    Adrian Gonzalez: First Baseman, Boston Red Sox

    One of the Red Sox's huge acquisitions from this offseason has certainly come through after a tough start to the season. The package of prospects that Boston gave up for Gonzalez has certainly been worth it as Adrian is leading the MLB in RBI with 60, which is a whooping eight ahead of the next closest player in the AL.

    Gonzalez also has a staggeringly high batting average of .341 for a power hitter, which is also helping his Red Sox lead their tough AL East division ahead of their rival the New York Yankees.


    Other Candidates (BA, HR, RBI, R)

    Curtis Granderson: OF, New York Yankees (.279, 20, 47, 54)

    After being traded to New York from Detroit before last season, the Grandy Man (courtesy to John Sterling) has burst onto the scene and grown to love the short porch of right field in the new Yankee Stadium. He has really helped the Yankees keep pace with the Red Sox.

    Jose Bautista: OF, Toronto Blue Jays (.338, 21, 42, 52)

    Joey Bats is showing early in this year that last season was no fluke and is one of the only players on Toronto who is hitting very well. His beautiful line drive swing rockets baseballs out of Rogers Centre and all other AL ballparks.

    Asdrubal Cabrera: SS, Cleveland Indians (.302, 12, 42, 41)

    One of the biggest surprise players in this MLB season is on one of the biggest surprise teams. Already known for his defense, Asdrubal is showing his power side and is showing a lot of it.

NL Most Valuable Player

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    Prince Fielder: First Baseman, Milwaukee Brewers

    Fielder isn't the only Brewer having what looks like a career year this season, but he's having the loudest one. The NL Central-leading Brewers have a solid pitching staff but they hang their hat on their lineup, which includes power hitters like Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks. But Fielder is having the best season out of those three players. Prince is first in the NL with 58 RBI and is second in home runs with 19.  


    Other Candidates (BA, HR, RBI, R)

    Matt Kemp: OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (.331, 20, 56, 45)

    Other than Andre Ethier, Kemp has been the lone offensive bright spot this season for the cash-strapped Dodgers. In addition to the stats shown above, Kemp also has a lot of stolen bases this year, 14 to be exact, which is tied for sixth in the NL. He is the perfect mix of power and speed.

    Ryan Howard: 1B, Philadelphia Phillies (.247, 13, 53, 32)

    Even though the Phillies are leading the NL East, they have been using many different lineups this year lacking continuity. Star second baseman Chase Utley only returned to action a few weeks ago and center and right field have been revolving doors of players, with the injury of Shane Victorino and the recent call-up of star prospect Domonic Brown. Howard has been the unifying force with his usual productive numbers.

    Jose Reyes: SS, New York Mets (.346, 3, 25, 47)

    Reyes' Mets are only one game under .500 this year, but Reyes' numbers all across the board make him a great candidate. He leads the NL in hits (94) and triples (11) by substantial margins and is second in stolen bases (20). His .346 average also leads all of MLB. He doesn't have much power, but Reyes does basically everything to help a team win, even a team as depleted injury-wise as the Mets are.

AL Cy Young

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    Alexi Ogando: SP, Texas Rangers

    Ogando has just been lights out this season with an amazing 2.10 ERA and is also 7-0. He has been by far the most effective starting pitcher for the defending AL champs. He boasts ridiculous stats all across the board with a sub 1.00 whip, a roughly 3-1 strikeout-walk ratio, and has only given up 55 hits in 81.1 innings pitched. He is doing all of this in only his second MLB season. He is ineligible for Rookie of the Year for this season because he pitched 41.2 innings last season. This guy is the next stud pitcher to be produced by the AL West, joining the likes of Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Felix Hernandez and Jered Weaver.


    Other Candidates (W-L, ERA, K, IP)

    Josh Beckett SP Boston Red Sox (5-2, 2.06, 73, 83.0)

    Beckett has had a nice comeback start to this season after having a very poor 2010 season.  He has been Boston's most consistent pitcher this season and has been one of the keys to them leading the AL East. It is clear that Beckett is close to returning to his 2005 form in which he shut everyone down.

    Jered Weaver SP Los Angeles Angels (7-4, 2.24, 90, 100.1)

    Weaver started out the year with a 6-0 record and has considerably cooled down since then, but his overall stats still show he is an elite pitcher and is able to win games for a mediocre hitting team like the Angels. Like Ogando, Jered also has a sub-1.00 whip and like Beckett, Weaver has a 3-1 strikeout-walk ratio.

    Justin Verlander SP Detroit Tigers (7-3, 2.89, 93, 102.2)

    Verlander's no-hitter earlier this season definitely helps his Cy Young candidacy, but just looking at this hard-throwing right-hander's stats or watching him pitch shows that he is at the top of the heap when talking about starting pitchers. It also helps that he has led his team to within percentage points of the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians.

NL Cy Young

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    Jair Jurrjens SP Atlanta Braves

    Jurrjens has just been lights-out this year for the up-and-coming Braves, who had a poor start to the season but have made up some ground in the standings lately. Jair, a native of Willemstad, Curacao, which is also the home of former Brave great and current Yankee OF Andruw Jones, is the only qualified starting pitcher in the MLB with a sub-2.00 era, which is simply outstanding. He has also managed to win eight games in his 11 starts this season, which is saying something considering the Braves poor hitting. I see this trend continuing throughout the season and Jurrjens looks like the best NL candidate to reach the 20 win plateau.


    Other Candidates (W-L, ERA, K, IP)

    Roy Halladay SP Philadephia Phillies (9-3, 2.39, 106, 105.1)

    "Doc" Halladay is also an obvious candidate for the 2011 Cy Young due to his team's success (Philly is leading the NL East and is by far the best team in the division), ability to straight out shutdown teams (no-hitter in the playoffs, perfect game last season), absurdly high strikeout-walk ratio (about 7.5-1), ability to finish games (four complete games already this year and nine complete games in last three seasons). Need I say more?

    Cole Hamels SP Philadelphia Phillies (8-2, 2.58, 91, 90.2)

    The former ace of this star-studded Philly rotation has been bumped down to the four spot in the rotation, but he is by far the best four starter in the MLB. His whip is below 1.00 which is outstanding and like Halladay, he has a very good K-BB ratio with about a 4.3-1. His 8-2 record also isn't that shabby.

    Shaun Marcum SP Milwaukee Brewers (7-2, 2.68, 83, 90.2)

    Marcum, who came over from the Toronto Blue Jays this past offseason, was projected to be third in the Milwaukee rotation after fellow offseason acquisition Zack Greinke from Kansas City and incumbent Yovani Gallardo. But he has performed by far the best out of the rotation and supports a superb 2.68 era and a cool 7-2 record for the hard hitting Brew Crew. He's a longshot to keep this performance up for the whole season, but if he can come close to it, Milwaukee will be contending for a division title in September.


AL Rookie of the Year

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    Michael Pineda: SP, Seattle Mariners

    Pineda has been an absolute revelation this year for a Seattle team that is surprisingly second in their division and only a few games behind the Texas Rangers. His size and low-3.00 era make him seem beyond his 22-year-old age. The Mariners first signed him as a 16-year-old teenager from the Domincan Republic and he has just taken off in the past couple of years.


    Other Candidates: Pitchers-(W-L, ERA, K, IP) Position Players-(BA, HR, RBI, R)

    Aaron Crow RP Kansas City Royals (2-0, 1.44, 33, 31.1)

    Crow's era is a mere 1.44 which is among the best of relief pitchers in the AL and he has just been lights out for a Kansas City bullpen that has struggled this year, especially due to the faltering of star closer Joakim Soria. If Crow keeps up this unbelievable pitching stretch, he might be pitching himself into replacing Soria in that closer's role.

    Mark Trumbo 1B Los Angeles Angels (.248, 11, 29, 23)

    The Angels have been pretty disappointing this year as a team, but some of their young players like Trumbo have been very productive. As shown by his home run numbers in a little more than two months of the season, Trumbo is a power hitter and will drive in runs and hit home runs for Los Angeles. He also has shown some speed with six stolen bases on the year.

    Jeremy Hellickson SP Tampa Bay Rays (7-4, 3.03, 52, 77.1) 

    Hellickson has been a pleasant surprise this season with a very solid record of 7-4 and an ERA of just over 3.00. The Rays have played well this year after losing big names like Matt Garza and Rafael Soriano from their pitching staff, and Hellickson has helped in making up for that lost pitching talent.

NL Rookie of the Year

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    Dillon Gee SP New York Mets

    The New York Mets' pitching staff has been absolutely decimated by injuries this season with ace Johan Santana being out until the All-Star break and Chris Young being hurt for the rest of this 2011 season. Gee has been a nice consistent force in the Mets' starting rotation with an amazing 7-0 record, which means he has won roughly 80 percent of his starts. Dillon doesn't strike out many batters, but he does have a superb era of 3.05.


    Other Candidates: Pitchers-(W-L, ERA, K, IP) Position Players-(BA, HR, RBI, R)

    Darwin Barney 2B Chicago Cubs (.294, 1, 25, 34)

    Barney and shortstop Starlin Castro are just about the only players performing well for the hapless Cubs, but Castro isn't on this list because he isn't eligible for ROY. Barney doesn't have much power, but he bats second in the Chicago lineup and knows that his job is basically just to get on base and not necessarily hit home runs. Barney is also very solid on the defensive end as well, making him a solid ROY candidate.

    Danny Espinosa SS Washington Nationals (.212, 10, 35, 30)

    Espinosa has shown off his home run hitting skills this season, something which he didn't exhibit much of last year in his short stint with the Nats. The average leaves a lot to be desired for, but if he continues to drive in this many runs, Jim Riggleman can't be dissatisfied with Espinosa's play.

    Craig Kimbrel RP Atlanta Braves (2-2, 3.38, 48, 32.0)

    Kimbrel has 18 saves this year, but he has blown five saves which led Fredi Gonzalez to relieve him of his role as Atlanta's closer. Kimbrel has very good stuff but he can be erratic and can lose his composure when facing adversity. He will probably get another chance as the 9th inning guy to show if he can earn back his manager's trust as the Braves' closer.