Kirby Puckett

Kirby Puckett

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Midseason Awards

MVP: Aaron Judge
After Trout got injured this became Judge's award to lose. Beyond single-handedly making the Yankees about 70% less hateable he's having one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time. Don't believe me? In 2012 Trout hit .326/.399/.564 with 30 homers. Judge is hitting .329/.448/.691 with 30 homers through 84 games. Obviously he won't sustain his .426 batting average on balls in play but there probably won't be a big of a drop off as one might expect because he's third in baseball in hard hit percentage,* barreling up almost half of the balls he hits. At any rate, Judge is the easy choice in a surprisingly sparse AL field.
*Behind Miguel Cabrera and Nick Castellanos for some reason
Runner-up: Carlos Correa
I have Correa here, but the amazing part about the Astros' season is that you could make the argument that he's only been the third most valuable player behind Jose Altuve and George Springer. They have their own cases but let's take a look at Correa right now. He's hitting .325 with a .420 on base along with 20 homers. Outside of the batters' box he's been an above average fielding shortstop. Also, he's 22 years old. I don't think his solid all-around game is enough to compete with the offensive Monstar season of Judge, but it's been an excellent breakout after his relatively disappointing sophomore campaign.
Cy Young: Chris Sale
It's about damn time. Sale's been one of if not the best pitcher in the AL for the last six years and has no hardware to show for it. In that time he's posted an ERA of 3.01, and ERA+ of 136 and averaged 218 strikeouts a year. This season he's leading the AL in strikeouts, FIP, WHIP, innings pitched and has allowed the fewest number of hits per nine innings. I don't know what more he can do to win this year.
Runner-up: Corey Kluber
So far, Kluber's having his best season since his Cy Young winning 2014. His 2.80 ERA is the lowest it's been since then, and his WHIP is the lowest it's been in his entire career; for the first time he's allowing less than one baserunner per inning.
Rookie of the Year: Judge
Runner-up: Andrew Benintendi
Coming in with massive expectations, Benintendi's been steady in the Bosox lineup. So far he's hit .279/.357/.446 with 12 homers. That's nothing to sneeze at, especially for someone who just turned 22 last week.
LVP: Manny Machado
I really hate to have Machado because he's so much fun to watch but he's been a disaster this year. His OBP (.296) is barely higher than his 2016 batting average (.294). Meanwhile the Orioles have struggled, sitting in fourth place in the East. Going into this year without an ace or even a particularly good rotation, Baltimore needed a high-powered offense to keep pace in a tough division, with the 24-year-old Machado being the linchpin. As it's worked out, Machado's struggled and so has the team, sporting a sub-.500 record at the break.
Player to watch in the second half: Eric Hosmer
Hosmer was the third overall pick in 2008 draft and has had massive expectations following him since then. Even after the Royals' World Series victory in 2015 and his All-Star appearance the next season he hasn't quite lived up to what was expected of him. Now, in his contract season, he's putting together his best year as a pro so far, posting a line of .318/.374/.492 while continuing to be one of the top defensive first basemen in baseball. He and Salvador Perez have been driving this Royals resurgence, who are 44-43 after starting out 7-16. With the trade deadline less than three weeks away, the Royals will have to decide whether to buy or sell.
MVP: Bryce Harper
Runner-up: Paul Goldschmidt
Choosing between Harper and Goldschmidt made me think way too hard about who I should award a theoretical midseason MVP trophy to. Harper has slight advantages in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage, but Goldschmidt is a better fielder. Ultimately I gave it to Harper because of the "Valuable" part of Most Valuable Player. Harper's Nationals are sitting on top of the East at 52-36. While Arizona's been a lot better than expected this season, they're still nowhere near Washington and when the race is this close you need to go by degrees.
Cy Young: Max Scherzer
It's funny that in this season defined by historic home run numbers and offensive production we have two of the best pitchers of the decade having personal best seasons with Sale and Scherzer. Even better, neither of them are in the AL Central while having said seasons. Just like Sale, this was a pretty easy call because Scherzer is leading the NL in just about every meaningful pitching stat: ERA, WHIP, FIP, and strikeouts.
Runner-up: Clayton Kershaw
On the other coast, we have the best pitcher of the decade, who just quietly continues to dominate without much fanfare in LA of all places. This year serves as a pretty good microcosm for his career. Dominance despite being overshadowed by things much more interesting to a national crowd. This year it's Cody Bellinger, previously it's been Yasiel Puig, the Adrian Gonzalez/Carl Crawford/Nick Punto trade from Boston and the McCourt fiasco. That's all fine. It doesn't matter that, unlike Scherzer and Sale this isn't his best year. A 2.18 ERA is providing plenty, especially on this juggernaut of a Dodgers team.
Rookie of the Year: Cody Bellinger
Speaking of juggernautesque Dodgers, how about Cody Bellinger? The Judge comparison is easy to make, but not quite accurate. Judge is in the midst of a historic rookie season. Bellinger is fun, but just doesn't quite stack up. Regardless, this is another really easy choice. Bellinger is hitting .261 with 25 homers in a difficult park for hitters while contributing to the best team in the NL. He's also the youngest player to get an at bat this year. Don't worry if he's not Judge.
Runner-up: Ian Happ
The one bright spot to the Cubs season is Happ, the versatile slugger who's hit 13 homers in 51 games. Whatever. I doubt there are any Cubs fans taking solace in that. I don't feel bad for them. They got their World Series. See you in 108 years. Before that, meet me in the next section to make even more fun of the Cubs.
LVP: Kyle Schwarber
Obviously it had to be a Cub. I considered going with Arrieta and Lester and Co-LVPs, but no one represents the disappointment of the Cubs than Schwarber: He happened to come alive at the perfect time for Chicago last season, the future was bright with him, and he hasn't produced this season. Actually, "hasn't produced" is a nice way of putting it. To say it a little more bluntly: He was terrible. In addition to being the ugliest player in the league (but he's had that title since 2015) he hit .178/.300/.394 in 277 plate appearances before being sent to Triple-A. Also like the Cubs, he's incredibly young and talented and it's absolutely a possibility to see him turning it around and having a productive second half.
Player to watch in the second half: Kyle Freeland
The Colorado righty has gone 9-and-7 with a 3.77 ERA, which is especially good when you consider he's playing half of this games in Coors Field. With Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon doing plenty for an excellent offensive team, Freeland and the rest of the pitching staff will be especially crucial in the stretch run while fighting for a wild card spot.

No comments:

Post a Comment