Tuesday, July 1, 2014

MLB Midseason Awards

The Rockies have faded since their hot start, but Tulowitzki hsn't
With most teams at or about to reach the midway point in their seasons, it's time to hand out some midseason hardware.

AL MVP Mike Trout
Trout's been, by a nose, baseball's most valuable player to date, with his 5.1 bWAR barely edging out Troy Tulowitzki's 5.0. Trout's power numbers might not be as shiny as those of Nelson Cruz or Edwin Encarnacion, but as an all-around player no one's been better. All the 22 year-old center fielder has done is bat .314/.407/.610, good for the highest OPS and OPS+ in the American League. He's created the most runs of any American Leaguer, among whom only Jose Bautista has reached base more often. He's also a perfect 10-for-10 in stolen base attempts. And the Angels are doing well this year, so none of that "his team stinks" crap can hold any water. This is the year Trout will finally win his first MVP award, when it should be his third.

NL MVP Troy Tulowitzki
This one's a no-brainer. Tulo leads the major league in all three slash stats as well as runs scored. Throw in his strong power numbers and terrific defense at short, and he's been the best player in the National League this year hands-down. Health has been the only thing stopping the Rockies shortstop from seriously contending for the award in years past, so if he can hold up in the second half he should walk away with his first MVP trophy.

AL Cy Young: Masahiro Tanaka
Recent blunder to Mike Napoli notwithstanding, Tanaka's been absolutely dynamite in the first half. His 2.10 ERA, 190 ERA+ and 4.4 bWAR are all tops among American League pitchers, and his 11 wins and three complete games lead both leagues. He's also sporting a 0.95 WHIP to go with his ridiculous 127/18 K/BB ratio. New York paid a boatload for him, but he's been worth every penny, keeping the otherwise mediocre Yankees afloat in the AL East.

NL Cy Young: Johnny Cueto
I'm not convinced Cueto will win the award come November based on how well Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright have pitched, but for now at least the award is his to lose. Cincinnati's ace pitched like Pedro Martinez in the first half, compiling baseball's best WHIP, ERA, ERA+, H/9, and most complete games. Opponents are batting just .171/.232/.272 off him, which of course is insane, especially for someone who pitches half his games in a hitting-friendly venue. Cueto's always had top-shelf talent when healthy, and healthy he has been this year, leading the National League in starts and innings pitched. That combination of durability and dominance has elevated him into the same stratosphere as Kershaw, Tanaka, and Felix Hernandez, at least temporarily.

AL Rookie of the Year: Masahiro Tanaka
Want more stats reflecting Tanaka's greatness? Of course you do! Tanaka has not yet allowed more than three earned runs in any of his 16 starts, something he's only done four times. He's thrown 68 percent of his pitches for strikes. He's already had five starts with 10 or more strikeouts. His shortest outing was six innings. He's averaging nearly 10 K's per 9 innings, and his K/BB ratio is north of seven. And last but not least, he's been the third most valuable player in the American League to date, behind only Trout and Josh Donaldson.

NL Rookie of the Year: Chris Owings
Gregory Polanco is infinitely more talented and will probably walk away with this award in the fall, but with just three weeks of big league experience under his belt still has a long way to go. Arizona's 22 year-old shortstop hasn't gotten much press playing for a last-place team, but he's been one of the few bright spots on the Diamondbacks this year. Hitting .277/.313/.458 with solid power (26 extra base hits, .181 ISO) and speed (seven steals without a caught stealing), Owens isn't flashy but is nevertheless a solidly above average shortstop who brings good defense to the table as well. Unfortunately he just landed on the DL with a shoulder strain, but he should return after the All-Star Break. Perhaps the time off will help prevent him from hitting the rookie wall that fellow shortstop Xander Bogaerts seems to be crashing into.

AL Comeback Player of the Year: Mark Teixeira
If a Yankee wins the AL Comeback Player of the Year award, it ought to be Tex, not Derek Jeter. After wrist injuries limited him to just 15 games last year, Teixeira appeared to be a longshot to regain his power stroke and status as one of the game's best slugging first basemen. Since spending time on the Disabled List in April with a strained hamstring, though, he's hit like the Teixeira of old (and by old I mean the 2010-2012 version) with 15 home runs, 39 RBI and an .844 OPS in 56 games. He's been a constant source of offense over the last two months, providing power and stability in the middle of an order that's floundering in many respects due to the struggles of Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Alfonso Soriano. If Teixiera heats up in the second half, as he usually does, then he'll win this thing running away. If he gets hurt again, look for Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and Melky Cabrera to step in.

NL Comeback Player of the Year: Casey McGehee
After not playing in Japan last year, McGehee's been a revelation for Miami in 2014. The 31 year-old' has played 81 of the Marlins 83 games and provided a nice offensive boost at the hot corner, batting a career-high .309 with 19 doubles and 48 RBI. He's also maintained a robust .376 OBP, which makes up for his dismal power (one homer and .076 ISO) and mediocre defense. At a bargain bin price of $1.1 million, that's not bad at all.

AL Team of the First Half: Oakland A's
Before last night's loss to the Tigers, the A's were on pace to win 102 games. 102! They have the best record and best run-differential (far and away) in baseball. Their furious start has me wondering: could this be the year that a Billy Beane team finally survives the postseason crapshoot and wins it all?

NL Team of the First Half: Milwaukee Brewers
An incredibly deep offense and solid pitching makes them this year's version of the 2013 Boston Red Sox. Pretty much everyone in that lineup can hit, and they have just enough pitching with Kyle Lohse, Wily Peralta, and Yovani Gallardo exceeding expectations. It also helps that Francisco Rodriguez is pitching like it's 2008 again.

All stats through 6/30


  1. I agree with everything but the AL Comeback. l think that the Machine should get it. Albert came back from notorious leg problems to hit homer 500 and is sitting in the AL top-10 in homers. I will admit he's not hitting for a high average(then again, it's been several years since he last hit .300, and his fanning rate is about normal, so who cares?), but who was the last player to come back from injuries to hit homer 500 and have a great year? Ted Williams?

  2. Ya I gave Pujols a lot of consideration, but decided against him since his numbers are actually kind of close to last year's. Teixeira has the better narrative in my opinion, coming back from a lost season and then coming back from injury again this year.