By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
With the MLB season reaching its midway point and the All-Star break almost upon us, what better time than now to get into the first half season awards? It has been a great first half of the MLB season as plenty of players have put on historic performances. On the other hand, there are also some players that have put forth some performances that they would soon like to forget.
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers: Cabrera has put up staggering numbers for the second consecutive season and is right in the running once again to potentially win the Triple Crown. The fact he is in contention for the Triple Crown again is amazing. He broke the 45 year draught last year and could make it two seasons in a row. At the half point his stats stand at .366/.457/.682/1139 slash line to go along with 30 home runs and 94 RBI. In the modern baseball era, those are stats that have never been seen at the All-Star break. Hall of Fame-worthy players such as Pete Rose, Lou Brock, Craig Biggio, Mark Grace and Wade Boggs never even reached those marks for af ull season.
Others in Consideration (Even though Cabrera is in a league of his own): Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels; Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles; Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees; Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox.
NL MVP: Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: McCutchen started the year slowly but has picked things up as late to continue pacing the Pirates offense. This is the first time virtually in his career that he is getting some help around him and will help in the long run as he will be able to continue producing. McCutchen has a .303/.376/.465/.841 slash line to go with 47 RBI, 18 stolen bases and Gold Glove quality defense. McCutchen is the heart and soul of the Pirates team and they will ultimately go as far as he is able to carry them.
Others in Consideration: Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals; Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks; Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies; Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies.
AL LVP (Least Valuable Player): Josh Hamilton, Outfielder, Los Angeles Angels: The Angels were once again the winners of the offseason and once again are not getting the results they expected. Hamilton has struggled mightily since signing a massive five-year, $125 million contract this offseason. He is hitting well below his career averages with numbers of .229/.289/.422/.722 slash line that includes only 14 home runs, 39 RBI and 90 strikeouts compared to only 26 walks. So far Hamilton is not producing anywhere near as well as the Angels had expected and there are really no signs of it turning around soon.
Others in Consideration: Chris Young, OF, Oakland Athletics; Mike Moustakas, 3B, Kansas City Royals.
NL LVP: B.J. Upton, Centerfielder, Atlanta Braves: Much like Hamilton, Upton was signed to a big contract this offseason and he just has not performed as expected. Upton has the lowest batting average of any player that qualified at .177 and is slugging .300, which is sixth lowest. If not for his awful play people would be focusing more on his younger brother, who since his torrid pace to start the season hitting home runs has cooled off considerably. Upton signed a contract worth $75.25 million in the offseason that the Braves are looking like they highly regret.
Others in Consideration: Ike Davis, 1B, New York Mets; Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs; Matt Kemp, CF, Los Angeles Dodgers.
AL Cy Young: Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers: Darvish recently landed on the DL with a lower back injury but should only miss one start because of it. Whoever he was set to face over that time period has to be ecstatic someone else will be taking the mound. Darvish has been mowing down hitters all season long, striking out a MLB leading 157 so far. He also has a 3.02 ERA and 1.05 WHIP to go along with all the strikeouts and is allowing a .194 BAA. Darvish has cemented himself as one of the best pitchers in the majors since coming over from Japan last season.
Others in Consideration: Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers; Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners; Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox.
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers: It has been a tumultuous season in Los Angeles for both ball clubs but one bright spot is Kershaw. He is the best pitcher in baseball right now while he dominates whoever he faces. He sports a 1.89 ERA and 0.90 WHIP on the season to go along with .186 BAA, .240 OBP and .269 slugging percentage, all tops in the majors. He goes deep into games, pitching at least seven in 15 of his 19 starts and has not had an “ugly start” (fewer than five innings, five or more earned runs) yet this season. Kershaw, like Cabrera, has people worthy of consideration for the award but is in a league of his own.
Others in Consideration: Matt Harvey, New York Mets; Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals; Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks; Jeff Locke, Pittsburgh Pirates.
AL Not-Cy Young: Toronto Blue Jays Rotation: Coming into the season there were bug expectation north of the border. The Blue Jays had brought in tons of talent that was supposed to push them past the vaunted AL East and make them contenders for the World Series. Instead they are actually worse than last year and sit in last place currently in the AL East with a record of 44-47. The best ERA in the starting rotation for pitchers who have only been starters and not relievers is 4.50 from mark Buehrle. Reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey is 8-10 on the season with a 4.69 ERA.
Others in Consideration: Joe Blanton, Los Angeles Angels; Wade Davis, Kansas City Royals.
NL Not-Cy Young: Ian Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks. It is amazing the Diamondbacks are leading the NL West with the performance that Kennedy has put on this season. The only note worthy thing he has done is spark a brawl between the Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers. When he is not hitting batter Kennedy is getting hit by them, hard. He has a 5.31 ERA so far on the season and is the third highest amongst qualifying players. Kennedy is looked at as the ace of the staff and is looking more like a joker. If he can get it figured out the Diamondbacks should run away with the division.
Others in Consideration: Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants; Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs.
NL Rookie of the Year: Jose Fernandez, Starting Pitcher, Miami Marlins: The Marlins came into the season looking like one of the worst teams in baseball but surprised many with a winning record in the month of June. A big reason behind that has been the pitching of Fernandez, who sports an opponent’s slash line of .194/.276/.342. In case you didn’t know, this was a player almost unanimously said at the start of the season was being brought up as a publicity stunt by the Marlins to get people in the seats; no one expected him to be doing this against MLB hitters at just 20 years old reaching only High Class A ball last season. He has responded in a big way in being named to the All-Star team and looks to be the future ace of the Marlins staff. In what is the deepest ballot, Fernandez barely comes out on top.
Others in Consideration: Shelby Miller, Starting Pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals; Evan Gattis, Catcher/Third Baseman/Left Fiedler, Atlanta Braves; Julio Teheran, Starting Pitcher, Atlanta Braves.
AL Rookie of the Year: Jose Iglesias, Shortstop/Third Baseman, Boston Red Sox: Iglesias has been a surprise to everyone around MLB circles. Coming into the season he was looked at as a slick fielding shortstop that couldn’t hit; now he is a wiz in the field at third base and he is raking. Will Middlebrooks went down with back issues and Iglesias has stepped up big time. He got 43 hits in his first 100 at-bats and became only the third Red Sox with 60 in his first 150 at-bats, joining Ted Williams and Manny Ramirez. (Let that sink in for a minute). Iglesias isn’t dominating in all categories like Mike Trout last year but has a good shot to bring home the trophy like he did.
Others in Consideration: Mil Myers, Outfielder, Tampa Bay Rays; Jurickson Profar, Shortstop/Second Baseman, Texas Rangers; Dan Straily, Starting Pitcher, Oakland Athletics.
AL Manager of the Year: John Farrell, Boston Red Sox: Who would have thought the Red Sox would be in the position they are currently? They sit atop the loaded AL East with a record of 57-37, the most wins in baseball. They have gone through two different closers already, losing offseason pickup Joel Hanrahan for the season, but have plugged the hole with Koji Uehara and kept on chugging along. Farrell has cleaned up what many people thought was a very toxic situation in Boston and turned the team around quicker than anyone would have thought. He has gotten the most out of his players and the future is bright in Boston with some good prospects on the way.
Others in Consideration: Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians; Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles, Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics.
NL Manager of the Year: Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates: Who picked the Pirates to have the best record at the 81 game mark? *Crickets* The Pirates have been the first half Cinderella the last two seasons as well, but this year things are different in the Steel City. Hurdle has turned the Pirates into a contender for the NL Central division. They will at worst break their streak of losing seasons at 20 and challenge for a wild card spot. The future is bright in Pittsburgh as they had four All-Stars this season with Andrew McCutchen, Jason Grilli, Pedro Alvarez and Jeff Locke.
Others in Consideration: Kirk Gibson, Arizona Diamondbacks, Walt Weiss, Colorado Rockies, Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals.