Monday, July 27, 2015

MLB Midseason Awards

The 2012 Rookies of the Year will likely both be named MVP this year (CBS Sports)
I'm a few weeks late with these, but I wanted to get them in before we get into the dog days of August. All stats through Saturday, July 25th except where otherwise noted.

AL MVP: Mike Trout
A few weeks ago I would have said Josh Donaldson, but Trout's recent hot streak After today's 4-for-4, two-home run performance, he's up to .315-31-64 on the season. The major league leader in home runs, runs, and total bases has fueled the Angels' recent rise to the top of the AL West, where they now reside after today's win and an Astros loss. Already the first player to ever win consecutive All-Star Game MVPs, he seems like a sure bet to win his second straight MVP award as well (which should be his fourth, but I digress).

NL MVP: Bryce Harper
Finally healthy after a pair of injury-plagued seasons delayed his inevitable rise to superstardom, Harper's been healthy and Ruthian in 2015. His .331/.462/.679 (212 OPS+!) looks like it came off Ted Williams's statsheet, and his 27 long balls lead the Senior Circuit. Even if Giancarlo Stanton were healthy and Andrew McCutchen had avoided his slow start, Harper would still be the runaway winner.

AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
The White Sox have been major disappointments this year, but Sale's been as dominant as ever. His 170 strikeouts, 2.31 FIP and 11.5 K/9 rate are all tops in the American League, and his 2.85 ERA and 1.00 WHIP aren't too shabby either. So long as Sale stays healthy, this award is his to lose.

NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer
Despite getting roughed up in his last start at Pittsburgh, Scherzer still holds a sparkling 2.33 ERA (almost a perfect match for his 2.34 FIP) to go along with a 0.83 WHIP and major league best 10.38 K/BB ratio. Read that again, remember that he's leading the National League in innings, and you don't have to think too hard about anyone else (apologies to Johnny Cueto).

AL Rookie of the Year: Carlos Correa
Correa didn't debut until the first week of June was already in the books, but his Yasiel Puig-esque first month in the Show has him on the fast track to win this award. There's been a dearth of power-hitting shortstops lately, but the 20 year-old Correa has already established himself as one of the best sluggers at the position.

NL Rookie of the Year: Joc Pederson
It's a virtual toss-up between Pederson and Kris Bryant, but for now the edge goes to Pederson due to his advantages in playing time, positional difficulty, and park-adjusted production. As impressive as Bryant's first year has been, Pederson's been even better, as evidenced by his 26 point edge in OPS and eight additional home runs. Pederson's also played every game, while Bryant has not (through no fault of his own, but that matters).

AL Comeback Player of the Year: Alex Rodriguez
With his three home-run outburst in Minnesota Saturday, A-Rod now has 23 big flies and 58 RBI to go with a .277/.375/.539 (152 OPS+) slash line. When Rodriguez returned to the field during spring training, most had those numbers on the optimistic end of his full-season projection. In other words, nobody expected him to have those numbers with 40 percent of the season yet to play. On track for his first 30-homer season in five years, he's been healthy and one of the best hitters in the American League--two things nobody thought he'd be in 2015.

NL Comeback Player of the Year: Joey Votto
The former NL MVP has returned to form after an uncharacteristically poor 2014, posting rate stats right in line with his career averages. His power's back after dipping last year, when he managed just six home runs and a .154 ISO (he has 18 bombs and a .218 ISO this year). The Reds are struggling again, but at least this time around Votto's not the reason why.

AL Team: Kansas City Royals
Kansas City has proved last year's magical run was no fluke, as they currently sport the best record in the American League and second-best in baseball with pretty much the same team and formula. All-Star (mainly Omar Infante) jokes aside, the reigning AL champs are a very well-rounded team, especially now that they have a true ace in Johnny Cueto. They could still use another starting pitcher, but with Detroit fading and Minnesota due for regression they're going to run away with their division regardless.

NL Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Despite losing Adam Wainwright for the season and enduring slow starts and/or injuries to numerous regulars, the Cardinals have been far and away the best team in baseball this year. Having won nearly two-thirds of their games thus far, they're in firm control of the NL Central and own the biggest divisional lead in baseball. With Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina and Jason Heyward finally rounding into form, look for St. Louis to make a run at 100 wins as long as its pitching holds.

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