Minnesota Twins' Midseason Awards
The Minnesota Twins have been on a roller coaster of a season, bottoming out at 20 games below .500 and 16 1/2 games behind in the division.
They have rebounded to once again be in contention for yet another division title, which would be a third straight.
This article is going to look at the best and worst of the Twins over the first half of the 2011 campaign.
MVP of First Half: Michael Cuddyer
On a team with two former American League Most Valuable Players, it can prove difficult to find recognition.
Michael Cuddyer has set himself apart from all other Twins players this season, leading to his first-ever All-Star Game selection.
Cuddyer, a fan favorite for years, has been "Mr. Twin." He constantly does whatever is asked of him from manager Ron Gardenhire. This includes playing all over the field: be it Right Field, First Base, Second Base, Third Base, Ball Boy, Commentator or General Manager.
Cuddyer has played everywhere, stayed healthy (which seems impossible for most who call Target Field home), and produced all season.
His offensive numbers lead the Twins in all major categories except for runs batted in (42 compared with Danny Valencia's 45).
Cuddyer is in his final season of his contract with the Twins, and there has been rumors of the Twins shopping Cuddyer prior to the trade deadline before they rallied back into the playoff race, and I personally would be shocked if he were to be moved now.
LVP (Least Valuable Player) of First Half: Justin Morneau
On a team with this many injuries, poor performances and disappointments, it's difficult, and almost unfair to single out one player for the Least Valuable Player Award.
But for the purposes of this article its hard not to point to Justin Morneau.
Morneau is a gamer, and wants to be on the field more then anyone. The problem is that his body has failed him. His mind and work ethic say yes, his neck, head and immune system have said no.
Morneau came back hoping to return to the MVP form we saw of him in the first half of his 2010 season, but returning from post-concussion syndrome and a severe flu strain proved too much.
His production slipped far below all expectations, both for himself and fans.
Morneau didn't look like himself, and not just with the stick, he looked physically weaker then in previous seasons, and had visibly lost weight.
Morneau is currently on the disabled list once again following neck surgery, from which he plans to return in August.
Cy Young of First Half: Scott Baker
Coming into spring training, the opening day starter for the Minnesota Twins in 2010 was not even assured of a rotation spot.
Scott Baker eventually beat out Kevin Slowey for a starting gig, and he has taken the reins as the club's best starter over the first half of the season.
Baker started slow, much like the entire Twins squad, but has turned it on recently by winning five of his last six decisions, and lowering his season ERA to 3.01 and improving his record to 7-5.
Baker posted a 2.45 ERA during the month of June, which saw him go 4-2.
He has also been able to improve his strikeout rate to nearly one an inning, with 104 strikeouts in 110.2 innings pitched.
Baker left his last game (a win over Tampa Bay) following five innings of shutout baseball with an elbow strain; this will lead to a missed start that Anthony Swarzak will now pitch.
Cy Yucky of First Half: Matt Capps
There are a few candidates for the Cy Yucky award on the Twins roster, but the choice here has to Matt Capps.
Capps is coming off a season where he was a National League All-Star selection, and was acquired from the Washington Nationals for Wilson Ramos (a catcher who has been great behind the plate and swinging the stick; something the Twins have been lacking for most of this season, but I digress).
The Twins were returning Joe Nathan from Tommy John surgery from the previous season and have been counting on Capps to anchor a bullpen in flux, but he has not delivered.
Capps leads all of baseball with six blown saves in only 20 opportunities and has been pulled twice from games in which a save was still possible.
Capps' ERA currently sits at 4.66, more then two full runs higher of last season's mark of 2.47.
Gardenhire continues to support Capps and still considers him the closer, but with Nathan throwing the best he has all season, and Glen Perkins flourishing in his bullpen role, the clock may be ticking on Matt Capps' time in the closer role.
ROY (Rookie) During First Half: Ben Revere
The surprise first-round pick in the 2007 MLB Entry Draft, Ben Revere has been a spark plug to the Twins' offense at the top of the order and a vacuum for fly balls in center field.
Revere has drawn comparisons to a young Kirby Puckett during this freshman campaign due to his speed, great glove, above average hitting and bright smile.
Since Revere has taken over for the concussed Denard Span, he has made highlight plays with the glove that are reminiscent of former Twins Torii Hunter and Kirby Puckett.
Revere has also brought in a brand of baseball that suits Target Field and Manager Ron Gardenhire: speed.
He is able to get on base and has caused havoc, swiping 11 bases.
Revere continues to produce at the top of the lineup, scoring half a run a game, and he could be a big part of the playoff push in the second half of the season.
The Twins just completed a four-run comeback victory over the Chicago White Sox for their ninth straight victory of the ChiSox and now sit only seven games back from the division-leading Cleveland Indians.
The Scott Baker's, Ben Revere's and Michael Cuddyer's are going to need help if the Twins hope to make up those games and win a third straight American League Central Title.