Boston's Adrian Gonzalez takes Yankeee's CC Sabathia deep
Now that we are officially at the half-way point of the 2011 MLB season, it is time to look back at each team's first-half most valuable player.
This list does not show who the best player is on each team, but yet who should be regarded the most valuable to his team.
Here's the list of each teams' most valuable player and honorable mention during the first half of the 2011 Major League Baseball season.
Jered Weaver has arguably been the best pitcher in the majors this season.
Weaver is 10-4 with a 1.92 ERA along with 114 strikeouts. Weaver also started the season by winning his first six starts and hasn't slowed down yet.
Unfortunately, Weaver should have more wins to his name this season, but his offense is only providing him with 3.8 runs of support, which is fourth lowest in the majors.
Honorable Mention: Erick Aybar
This tall and lanky kid has had a stellar year so far and will be representing the Huston Astros during the All-Star game.
Hunter Pence leads his team in every major offensive category except on-base percentage, but it might not be something to write home about, considering it is the Astros after all.
Honorable Mention: Wandy Rodriguez
This southpaw has been nothing but stellar for the Athletics this season. Posting a 8-5 record with a 2.31 record and 106 strikeouts, Gio Gonzalez has been the most dominant pitcher in Oakland's' young and impressive starting rotation.
However, Gio's lack of command might be the only part of his game that is depriving him from the title of a staff ace. Gio Gonzalez currently has the fourth most walks issued this season with 49.
Honorable Mention: Trevor Cahill
Jose Bautista is arguably having the most spectacular season thus far, and some consider him the MVP of the entire American League.
Bautista emerged onto the scene in 2010 after he lead the majors in home runs with 54, which was 16 more than Paul Konerko who finished with the second most. It's safe to say that he hasn't slowed down one bit considering Bautista has already smacked a major league leading 28 home runs this year.
Honorable Mention: Ricky Romero
Being one of today's most prolific catchers, Brian McCann is having another stellar year for the Atlanta Braves. McCann is currently hitting .314 with 14 home runs and 48 runs batted in and will be the starting catcher for the 2011 National League All-Star team.
McCann is also putting down the fingers for one of the best pitching staffs in the majors, which only makes him more valuable to this team.
Honorable Mention: Jair Jurrjens
It's a toss up here between Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Both sluggers have played instrumental roles in the Brewers' success this season, and you can't go wrong with picking either player for the team MVP.
However, Ryan Braun is batting an incredible .320 with 16 home runs and 62 runs batted in, and don't forget about the 19 bags he has stolen. Many would call that a successful season, but Braun would tell you that he's just getting started.
Honorable Mention: Prince Fielder
If you were to tell me on the first day of the season that the St. Louis Cardinals would be six games over .500 and in first place in the National League Central, all with sustaining lengthy injuries to players such as Matt Holliday, Albert Pujols and Adam Wainwright, I would probably think you were crazy.
In steps Lance Berkman.
The first-year Cardinal's slugger is batting .297 with 21 home runs and 59 runs batted in and was also named to the National League All-Star team. Some thought that Lance Berkman's career was over after his short stint with the New York Yankees in 2010.
Talk about revitalizing a career.
Honorable Mention: Jamie Garcia
Ask what a sophomore slump means to Starlin Castro. He'll probably have no idea what you are talking about.
After an impressive rookie campaign, the Cubs' shortstop of the future is defying the baseball norms by improving his overall quality of play in his second year in the majors. Along with playing stellar defense at shortstop, Starlin Castro is currently batting .307 and has the fifth most hits in the majors with 111.
Honorable Mention: Aramis Ramirez
While we all knew that the Diamondbacks could score runs, the only question that fronted them was their ability to prevent other teams from scoring on them.
Ian Kennedy pitched well last year and showed signs of possibly becoming a front-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. He has now officially established himself as the ace of the Diamondbacks' starting rotation, posting a 3.38 ERA with eight wings and a 103 strikeouts.
Honorable Mention: Justin Upton
Unlike Starlin Castro, Matt Kemp would probably know exactly what you were talking about if you asked him about a sophomore slump.
Although Matt Kemp slugged 28 home runs and drove in 89 runs last season, he hit a lowly .249 when everyone knew that he was capable of putting up more prominent numbers.
He is now silencing his critics.
Matt Kemp is putting together quite possibly the most impressive offensive season thus far by batting .324 with 22 home runs, 25 stolen bases and 64 runs batted in.
Honorable Mention: Clayton Kershaw
It is a huge sigh of relief to Giants fans knowing that Pablo Sandoval is officially back to his 2009 form.
After an extremely impressive 2009 campaign, Pablo Sandoval put on a lot of weight and struggled during the Giants World Series run in 2010 and was eventually benched to the likes of Juan Uribe.
Pablo Sandoval dedicated himself to getting into shape by losing 48 pounds and in turn, won back the hearts of the Giants fans in 2011.
With disappointing seasons and injuries of key players, Pablo Sandoval is virtually the only threat in an anemic Giants lineup.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Vogelsong
Asdrubal Cabrera emerged on the scene after teammate Orlando Cabrera mentioned to him that he should be hitting with more power.
Not only as Cabrera smashed 14 home runs so far, he has played made some of the most impressive defensive plays at shortstop this season.
Honorable Mention: Josh Tomlin
Michael Pineda was off to a quick start this year and hasn't even thought about slowing down.
The Seattle Mariners heavily relying on their pitching staff to win them games, which is lead by the 2010 American League Cy Young award winner Felix Hernandez.
Surprisingly, Michael Penida is out-pitching Hernandez this season, but both pitchers will be a scary one-two punch at the top of the Mariner's rotation for a long time to come.
Honorable Mention: Brandon League
After a promising rookie campaign in 2010, Gaby Sanchez has started to mold into the Florida Marlins' first baseman of the future.
Due to the disappointing play of superstar Hanley Ramirez, Gaby Sanchez has assumed the responsibility of being the team' slugger by leading the team in virtually every offensive category.
Honorable Mention: Anibal Sanchez
Although Jose Reyes was just placed on the disabled list today and could miss up to a month, the Mets' shortstop is still leading the league in hitting with 124 hits and an incredible .354 batting average.
Reyes is also has the third most runs scored and the second most steals in the entire league.
Losing Reyes will unquestionably hurt the Mets' offense, but it will also hurt the chances that he will be moved before the trade deadline on July 31.
Honorable Mention: Carlos Beltran
Talk about a picture perfect swing.
The Washington Nationals had high expectations for their right-handed slugger at the beginning of the season, but Michael Morse got off to an awfully slow start. Batting only .211 at the start of May, Morse turned on the accelerator and has made the impact offensively that the Nationals expected.
Morse now leads his team in virtually every offensive category, batting .299 with 15 home runs and 49 runs batted in.
Honorable Mention: Jordan Zimmerman
Even though J. J. Hardy was out for nearly a month with a left oblique strain, he has made his presence known in the lineup ever since his return.
As a shortstop, a position that has now run dry of talent, Hardy is batting .294 with 13 home runs and 31 runs batted in during his limited playing time.
Honorable Mention: Adam Jones
The San Diego Padres are arguably the deadliest team in the league when given a lead late in the game. In order to win, the Padres rely on solid starting pitching and a shut-down bullpen led by the All-Star, Heath Bell.
However, one of the most underrated players in the league today is Mike Adams, who is quietly having another fantastic year as the Padres set up man. Adams has a minuscule ERA of 1.14 with a WHIP of only 0.66 and has the second most holds in the league with 18.
While Heath Bell has been solid all season long by converting 24 out of his 25 save opportunities, it is Mike Adam's dominance in the eight inning that allows Health Bell to consistently pitch with the lead in the ninth.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Ludwick
Everyone knows that the Philadelphia Phillies are built around their star-packed starting rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.
However, this team struggles at times to score runs, ranking them in the bottom half of most of the major offensive categories. One wouldn't think this was true with a lineup consisting of star players like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins.
Despite the moderate struggles that these players are enduring, Shane Victorino has taken on the role of the teams' spark-plug and has been a major contributor to this teams' success.
The "Flyin' Hawaiian" as fans refer to him, has been hurt for part of the year but is still putting up impressive numbers nonetheless.
Honorable Mention: Cole Hamels
Don't look now, but the Pittsburgh Pirates are three games over .500 and one-and-a-half games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central. Usually, that is a statement said only during the first week of the season, but here we are only a week away from the All-Star break.
Leading the Pirates' charge is the young and exciting center fielder Andrew McCutchen who was snubbed from this year's All-Star team. McCutchen is having an all around fantastic season, which is directly correlative to the recent success of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Honorable Mention: Joel Hanrahan
We all know the Texas Rangers can hit.
The real question is whether or not the Texas Rangers could pitch, and the loss of starting pitcher Cliff Lee to the Philadelphia Phillies this past offseason did not help them in that category.
Starting pitcher C.J. Wilson has stepped up nicely and become the teams' ace, but the Rangers needed someone else in the rotation to rely on.
Alexi Ogando has done that and more by accumulating nine wins with a 2.92 ERA and a WHIP a shade over one.
Honorable Mention: Michael Young
Not a lot of room to debate here.
Adrian Gonzalez is simply having a monster season during his first year with Boston.
Gonzalez currently ranks first in the league with 75 runs batted in and second in the league with a .348 batting average and 121 hits.
Looks like the Red Sox got a bargain in signing him to that $154 million contract.
Honorable Mention: Jacoby Ellsbury
Joey Votto is picking up right where he left off last season after he took home the National League MVP trophy.
Even though his power numbers are a little down from last year, Votto still has a .317 average with 52 runs batted in and a jaw-dropping .432 on-base percentage.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Phillips
This may be a surprise to some, but Jhoulys Chacin is currently one of the most, if not the most, important player on the Colorado Rockies this season.
We all know the Rockies can score runs with players such as Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Seth Smith and Todd Helton, but it is the lack of pitching that continuously huts the Rockies year after year.
With the injury to Jorge De La Rosa and the disappointing first half from Ubaldo Jimenez, Jhoulys Chacin has been the most consistent starting pitcher on the staff. The Rockies will need another strong half from Chacin if they have any hopes of making it to the postseason this year.
Honorable Mention: Troy Tulowitzki
Melky Cabrera is having a fine season with the Kansas City Royals, and many think he was snubbed from representing his team in the 2011 Midsummer Classic.
The "Melk Man" as the fans refer to him, has led the Royals in an impressive first half display of team hitting.
It is the lack of pitching that has caused the Royals to have another "typical Kansas City" season.
Honorable Mention: Alex Gordon
The usual major league pitcher will begin to tire throughout the course of the game and in turn, will generally lose some of his velocity during the late innings of the contest.
Not Justin Verlander.
Tim Lincecum's nickname "The Freak" should also be given to the Detroit Tigers flame thrower Justin Verlander, who has been clocked at throwing his fastball over 100 miles per hour as late as the ninth inning!
The Tigers' lineup is full of excellent hitters, led by the slugger Miguel Cabrera, but it is the lack of pitching that is currently restricting the Tigers from becoming one of the leagues' elite. Justin Verlander currently has 11 wins with a 2.38 ERA and 138 strikeouts. Talk about a strong first half.
Honorable Mention: Miguel Cabrera
Deservedly so, Michael Cuddyer has been voted onto the American League All-Star team after his impressive first half with the Minnesota Twins.
Cuddyer is currently batting .294 with 13 home runs and 40 runs batted in.
Honorable Mention: Scott Baker
Paul Konerko is simply having another fantastic season for the Chicago White Sox and is single-handedly keeping them in playoff contention in the American League Central.
"Paulie," Chicago fans' nickname for their favorite player, leads the team in every major offensive category. Konerko deserves to be on the American League All-Star team and still has a chance if he can manage to win the Final Vote contest.
Honorable Mention: Philip Humber
James Shields always had the potential to become a successful pitcher in the majors, it was just a matter of whether or not he could put it all together.
"Outlook good" would read the magic eight ball if James Shields were to shake one today because he has pitching fantastically during the first half of this season.
Shields has already pitched six complete games to go along with eight wins, a 2.47 ERA and 132 strikeouts.
If Shields can keep this up, the Rays starting rotation with David Price, Jeremy Hellickson and James Shields would be a scary team to face for years to come.
Honorable Mention: Matt Joyce
The New York Yankees have a myriad of hitters who each help the Yankees score runs in his own unique way.
The Yankees' bullpen has been solid all year due to the fine pitching of David Robertson and the ageless Mariano Rivera, however, it is the starting pitching that has been susceptible and inconsistent all season long.
CC Sabathia might have something to say about that.
The big left-hander has a major league leading 12 wins to go along with a 2.90 earned run average and 117 strikeouts.
Sabathia deserved to be on the All-Star team and many thought he was one this year's biggest snubs.
Honorable Mention: Curtis Granderson