MLB

National League Awards: First-Half Version

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 01:  Jose Reyes #7 of the New York Mets against the New York Yankees at Citi Field on July 1, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Adam BernacchioAnalyst IIIJuly 5, 2011

Last week, we took a look at our first-half award winners for the American League, so it’s only fitting to take a look at our first-half award winners for the National League.

 

NL MVP

Candidates: Matt Kemp, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Jose Reyes, Lance Berkman, Andrew McCutchen, Justin Upton

Winner: Jose Reyes

With all due respect to Kemp and Fielder, Reyes is having a year for the ages. He leads the NL in hits (124), average (.354), triples (15) and WAR (5.3) and is second in steals (30).

In some years, the MVP is determined by a team's success and playoff push (think Kirk Gibson in 1988 and Terry Pendleton in 1991) and then there are some years where a player’s numbers are so gaudy it doesn’t matter where there team finishes in the standings (think Andre Dawson in 1987 or Mike Schmidt in 1986).

Reyes is going to fall into the latter category.

A legit sleeper for this award is going to be McCutchen. At the time of this post, the Pirates are 1.5 games out of first place in the NL Central and McCutchen is having a superb year. If the Pirates can somehow pull this off, then McCutchen will get a lot of votes for MVP.

 

NL Cy Young

Candidates: Jair Jurrjens, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Clayton Kershaw

Winner: Roy Halladay

Halladay has gotten some serious competition from his teammate Hamels and Jurrjens, but Halladay has been once again the best pitcher in the National League. He leads in the NL in IP (136.1), WAR (4.8) and xFIP (2.41) and is tied for first in wins with 11 if you want to go that route as well.

He also leads the NL in compete games with six, and those six CGs are just one less than the combined CGs of Jurrjens, Hamels and Kershaw.

We should all embrace what Halladay is doing and not take his starts for granted. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher, and getting to be able to watch one on a regular basis doesn’t happen too often.

 

Rookie of the Year

Candidates: Craig Kimbrel, Brandon Beachy, Dillon Gee, Fernando Salas, Danny Espinosa, Freddie Freeman, Darwin Barney

Wiiner: Craig Kimbrel

At the beginning of the year, Atlanta Braves manager Freddie Gonzalez said that he was going to play the matchups in the ninth inning and split the closer duties between Kimbrel and Jonny Venters.

Well, that lasted one night, as Kimbrel closed out the Washington Nationals on Opening Day and hasn’t taken a step back since.

Kimbrel has a 2.57 ERA and is striking out almost 15 batters per nine innings. His 14.4 K/9 ratio is best amongst all MLB relievers.

 

Manager of the Year

Candidates: Clint Hurdle, Tony LaRussa, Terry Collins, Charlie Manuel, Kirk Gibson, Bruce Bochy

Winner: Clint Hurdle

LaRussa has done a great job in St. Louis considering that Adam Wainwright is out for the year, Ryan Franklin was released and Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and David Freese have all spent time on the DL.

Gibson has done a great job in Arizona as well. Nobody thought they would be in contention this late in the season.

But the NL’s best first-half manager has been Hurdle.

The Pirates haven’t had a winning season since Vanilla Ice was cool and The Real World premiered on MTV. At the time of this post, the Pirates are 43-41 and are right in the thick of things in the NL Central.

The Pirates success this season can be attributed to a much improved bullpen led by Joel Hanrahan and a vastly improved defense that ranks eighth in baseball with an 8.9 team UZR.

Hurdle definitely deserves praise for the Pirates’ first-half turnaround.

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