Photo Credits: Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports
The first half of the Major League Baseball regular season is wrapped up, with the All-Star Game taking place Tuesday July 9th in Cleveland. The All-Star break is as good a time as any to pass out some midseason hardware! Once again, offense is at an all time high in baseball this season. Almost half of the league is averaging five runs per game, a stat that only four teams accomplished last season. The league is also on track to shatter the single-season home run record by nearly 500 long balls. The insane offensive numbers make for a fun yet difficult time handing out awards. There are so many great players putting up some of the best numbers the game has ever seen offensively. This just makes the masterful performances of the Cy Young candidates that much more impressive. With the first half coming to a close Sunday, there is a plethora of information for me to give out my own set of awards for the very best (and worst) performances of the MLB’s first half.
AL MVP: 1st. Mike Trout, Angels 2nd. Alex Bregman, Astros, 3rd. Jorge Polanco, Twins, 4. Joey Gallo, Rangers, 5th. DJ Lemahieu, Yankees
This is about as clear-cut and obvious award selections can get. Mike Trout is without a doubt the American League MVP for the first half. The greatest player in baseball has somehow found a way to elevate his game to an even higher level in his eighth season. Trout is hitting .301/.453/.646 with 28 home runs and 67 RBI through 87 games this season. This season he has career bests in on base percentage, slugging percentage, walk rate, strikeout rate, homer rate, and extra base hit rate. Trout is also a superb fielder and baserunner. He has also helped keep the Angels right around .500 and in the AL wildcard race. Trout is one of the greatest players ever and he seems to be at the peak of his powers. The $430 million dollar man is worth every penny, and should take home his 3rd MVP award this season.
AL Anti-MVP: 1st. Jose Ramirez, Indians, 2nd. Rougned Odor, Rangers, 3rd. Chris Davis, Orioles, 4th. Yonder Alonso, White Sox, 5th. Jackie Bradely Jr., Red Sox
One of the things that Cleveland fans were confident in going into the 2019 campaign was their star third baseman Jose Ramirez playing in the All-Star Game at their home park Progressive Field. However, the guy who finished third in MVP voting in the last two seasons with 68 homers and 188 RBIs over those two years, has been a shell of his former self. Ramirez is a prime culprit of the Indians’ offensive struggles this year. Ramirez is hitting .218/.308/.344 with only 7 Home Runs and 35 RBIs. If the Indians want to catch the Twins who they are 5.5 games in back of, Ramirez will need to turn it around quickly in the second half.
NL MVP: 1st Place. Cody Bellinger, Dodgers Very Close 2nd place. Christian Yelich, Brewers, 3rd. Nolan Arenado, Rockies, 4th. Anthony Rendon, Nationals, 5th. Josh Bell, Pirates
Photo Credits: Getty Images
Bellinger and Yelich for first half MVP is a neck and neck race. Both of them are hitting for average and power. Bellinger boasts a statline of .336/.432/.692 with 30 Home Runs and 71 RBIs. Christian Yelich’s stats are equally as impressive hitting .329/.433/.707 with 31 Home Runs and 67 RBIs. I give the slight edge to Bellinger because he is the better defender, and his LA Dodgers have the best record in the Majors. However, there is no wrong answer with Yelich or Bellinger; and the NL MVP race should be one for the ages.
NL Anti-MVP 1st Place. Bryce Harper, Phillies, 2nd Place. Robinson Cano, Mets, 3rd Place. Maikel Franco, Phillies, 4th Place. Travis Shaw, Brewers, 5th Place. Starlin Castro, Marlins
Photo Credits: Kevin C. Cox/Getty
Phillies owner John Middleton and fans across the city of brotherly love were stoked when Byrce Harper signed a 13 year $333 million dollar deal because they expected Harper to be the player to lead them to the top of the NL East and eventually the World Series. Harper hasn’t been the worst, he does have a .809 OPS, and is hitting .253 with 16 homers but that is hardly worth his contract and a player of his magnitude should be doing better. He also leads the league in strikeouts, and his Wins above replacement (WAR) is 0.5 which is considerably worse than that of Brett Gardner’s. In order for the Phillies to stay in playoff contention, they’ll need Harper to return to the MVP type player he can be.
AL Cy Young: 1st Place. Mike Minor,Rangers , 2nd Place. Charlie Morton, Rays, 3rd Place. Justin Verlander, Astros, 4th Place. Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays, 5th Place. Jose Berrios, Twins
Besides the Minnesota Twins the Texas Rangers have been the league’s biggest surprise of the first half. The Rangers were primed for another 90 loss season, but the first half Cy Young award winner, and MVP candidate Joey Gallo have led the Rangers to a 48-42 first half record and have kept them in WIld Card contention. FInally healthy and completing his second full season as a starting pitcher due to injuries, Minor is 8-4 and leads the American League with a 2.54 ERA. He has thrown two complete games and a shutout. The amazing thing about Minor’s season is that he is accomplishing all of this in one of the league’s most hitter friendly ballparks in Arlington. He is 4-2 with a 2.03 ERA in 8 starts at home. He also leads the league in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) among pitchers. If Minor continues his dominance in the second half of the season, he will be one of the most unlikely Cy Young winners ever.
AL Anti-Cy Young 1st Place. Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays, 2nd Place. Matt Harvey, Angels, 3rd Place. Dan Straily, Orioles, 4th Place. Cody Allen, Angels, 5th place. Edwin Jackson, Blue Jays
Aaron Sanchez used to be a premier pitcher in the Majors. In 2016, Sanchez went 15-2 and led the league with a 3.00 ERA. Sanchez finished the first half losing his 11th straight decision in a 4-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night. Sanchez is 3-12 this season with a 6.16 ERA. He is among the last in the league in WAR with -0.5. He is a prime reason why Toronto ranks 22nd in the majors with a 4.91 team ERA, and has also been a contributing factor to leading them to the cellar of the AL East. This performance is more than enough for the first half AL Anti- Cy Young award, and Sanchez needs to turn it around or he will find himself released before season’s end.
NL Cy Young: 1st Place. Hyun-jin Ryu, Dodgers, 2nd Place. Max Scherzer, Nationals, 3rd Place. Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks, 4th Place. Kirby Yates, Padres, 5th Place. Luis Castillio, Reds
Hyun-jin Ryu has been the best pitcher on a pitching staff that is second in the league in team ERA, and a pitching staff that includes Clayton Kershaw. Ryu leads all of baseball with a 1.73 ERA, and is 10-2 with 99 strikeouts in 17 starts. He also has given up more than two earned runs only once on the season. These numbers and the Dodgers having the best record in the league give Ryu a slight edge over Washington’s Max Scherzer. A quick note on Scherzer, he is becoming Mike Trout-esque in terms of dominance. His past six Cy Young finishes are first, fifth, fifth, first, first, and second. If Ryu’s dominance continues he will win his first Cy Young and set the Dodgers up for a deep postseason run.
NL Anti- Cy Young: 1st Place. Jeurys Familia, Mets, 2nd Place. Chris Archer, Pirates, 3rd Place. Joe Kelly, Dodgers, 4th Place. Drew Pomeranz, Giants, 5th Place. Aaron Nola, Phillies
Photo Credits: NBC New York
Familia signed a 3 year $30 million dollar extension in the offseason. Familia has not pitched up to that contract, and has gone from a reliable setup man to ineffective. He has a 7.50 ERA, and a -0.9 WAR. He has also struggled with injuries this season being on the injured list twice with shoulder issues.
AL Rookie of the Year: 1st Place. Brandon Lowe, Rays, 2nd Place. Michael Chavis, Red Sox, 3rd Place. Vlad Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays, 4th Place. Oscar Mercado, Indians, 5th Place. Eloy Jimenez, White Sox
Photo Credits: ESPN
The AL Rookie of the Year race was supposed to come down to Vlad Guerrero Jr., and who cares. However, another rookie in the AL East has stolen the spotlight. Lowe is hitting .276 with 16 Home Runs and 49 RBIs. He is a big part of Tampa Bay’s offensive success, and why they sit atop the AL Wild Card standings. If Lowe keeps it up in the second half, he will win the AL Rookie of the Year award, and break Dan Uggla’s record for home runs hit by a rookie second baseman of 27.
NL Rookie of the Year: 1st Place. Pete Alonso, Mets, 2nd Place. Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres, 3rd Place. Brian Reynolds, Pirates, 4th Place. Mike Soroka, Braves, 5th Place. Austin Riley, Braves
Photo Credits: AP Photo/Kathy Willens
Pete Alonso has been one of the only bright spots this season for the Mets. Alonso is hitting .280 with 30 Home Runs and 68 RBIs. His rookie season thus far is reminiscent of Aaron Judge’s a couple of years ago. He will break Cody Bellinger’s NL Rookie Home Run record of 39. If he keeps up his torrid pace in the second half he also might have a chance to break Aaron Judge’s overall rookie Home Run record of 52. Alonso is a bright young star in the game, and will be a staple in the middle of the Mets’ Lineup for years to come.
AL Manager of the Year: Aaron Boone, Yankees, 2nd Place. Rocco Baldelli, Twins, 3rd Place. Kevin Cash, Rays, 4th Place. AJ Hinch, Astros, 5th Place. Chris Woodward, Rangers
Photo Credits: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Boone has led the Yankees to the best record in the American League with a 57-31 record. He has done this by managing a ball club that has been prone to injuries in the first half of the season. The Yankees’ top five home run hitters from last season dealt with injuries, Ace Luis Severino and Setup man Dillon Betances have yet to play in 2019. Boone saw the resurgence of Gary Sanchez on both sides of the ball, and also has overseen the surprise emergences of Gio Ursehla and Cameron Maybin. He also manipulated a strong bullpen to protect the Yankees’ suspect rotation.
NL Manager of the Year: 1st Place. Torey Lovullo, Diamondbacks, 2nd Place. Dave Roberts, Dodgers, 3rd Place. Brian Snitker, Braves, 4th Place. Bud Black, Rockies, 5th Place. David Bell, Reds
Photo Credits: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Lovullo wins this award solely because of the great job he has done with the resources he has. A Diamondbacks team that lost Paul Goldschmidt and Patrick Corbin in the off-season is only 1.5 games out of a playoff spot; and that can be traced back to the managing of Torrey Lovullo.