MLB : Midseason Awards
MLB : Midseason Awards
By Joe Nelson
Everyone has their own take on who would win the hypothetical All-Star Break awards, here's our selections in the big four categories. Very rarely do the mid-season leaders wind up with the hardware as a lot can happen and the performance of these teams down the stretch should also play a vital role.
NL MVP: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
There are several worthy candidates in the National League but how the team has fared should play some role in the voting. Lance Berkman and Chipper Jones have had tremendous individual seasons but the Braves have been one of the most disappointing teams in baseball and the Astros have never been in contention since early in the year.
Matt Holiday and Xavier Nady have also had great seasons on losing teams and the power numbers from Ryan Braun, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard have been tremendous. The Cubs have been the top team in the National League but Aramis Ramirez and Derek Lee have not had a truly transcendent MVP caliber seasons.
The one player that has the most staggering numbers on a team that has overachieved is Albert Pujols. The numbers are truly remarkable although his home run and RBI totals are not as high as some of his peers due to missing several games. Pujols is hitting .350 and he has struck out just 30 times in nearly 300 at-bats. No player has a greater impact on a lineup and the Cardinals would certainly be a losing team without Pujols.
Others Deserving Consideration: Chase Utley, Ryan Braun, Hanley Ramirez, Lance Berkman, Chipper Jones
AL MVP: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
Although the Rangers are not a team that is truly in contention right now they have been a better team than many expected. 95 RBIs at the break is a truly staggering number, especially considering that he is 25 RBIs or a very good month ahead of his closest follower in the AL. Hamilton is also hitting .310 with 21 home runs and he has seven steals while playing excellent defense.
Several of his Texas teammates deserve mention as well as Milton Bradley has been incredible when healthy and Ian Kinsler leads the AL in batting while providing a great threat on the base paths. New York’s Alex Rodriguez deserves credit for doing more in 75 games than all but a few have done in 90 but his team is also failing to meet expectations.
Jermaine Dye and Carlos Quentin are posting great numbers on a first place Chicago team and Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer have excelled to keep the Twins in contention. Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis also deserve credit for the first place Red Sox. The Angels have been the most consistent team in the AL but there is not a standout candidate in that lineup.
Hamilton should get the edge with the incredible all around numbers but Texas needs to stay in the mix with a winning record for him to win at the end of the year given the advantage he has at his home park.
Others Deserving Consideration: Ian Kinsler, Kevin Youkilis, Alex Rodriguez, Jermaine Dye, Justin Morneau
NL Cy Young: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati Reds
It is odd that the two top candidates for this award come from two of the worst teams in the league but Volquez and Tim Lincecum are the two clear choices at the break. Lincecum has an incredible 11-2 record pitching for the Giants and he leads baseball in strikeouts with a great ERA as well. He is an exciting young pitcher but he does benefit from pitching in a pitcher’s park where Volquez has produced great numbers in a home run haven. Volquez leads the NL with a 2.29 ERA and he is only a few strikeouts behind Lincecum for the league lead while posting a 12-3 record for the Reds.
Lincecum has pitched 12 more innings to compile just a slight strikeout lead and Volquez is just one win behind Brandon Webb for the NL lead in wins. When the season is completed one of the pitchers on a playoff team might seal up the award. Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano and Dan Haren come to mind, or Arizona’s Brandon Webb, Ben Sheets of Milwaukee and the Phillies’ Cole Hamels have all produced successful seasons on quality teams.
If the Mets keep playing well it is not too early to rule out two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana either, despite his 8-7 record he has historically been a great second half pitcher and he is currently fourth in the NL in ERA.
Others Deserving Consideration: Tim Lincecum, Ben Sheets, Carlos Zambrano, Dan Haren, Johan Santana
AL Cy Young: Cliff Lee, Cleveland Indians
The AL race is wide open but Lee would be the best choice at this point in the season despite playing for a lousy Cleveland Indians team. Lee has the second best ERA in the AL to go along with a 12-2 record and he has been consistently successful all season long as his numbers have not dropped off considerably despite an incredible start to the season. Terry Francona agrees with the assessment of Lee and has given him the starting nod in his first All-Star game.
Oakland’s Justin Duchscherer has a miniscule ERA and has been a great success in the starting role but he does pitch in one of the lowest scoring ballparks in baseball. Roy Halladay has been incredible at times this season and has carried a bigger workload than most starters but the Blue Jays have disappointed this season and he has several poor starts mixed in with his great efforts. The dramatic advantage in innings pitched has led to great strikeout numbers and Halladay could play his way into another Cy Young award with similar numbers in the second half.
The White Sox’s Gavin Floyd and John Danks, plus Boston’s Jon Lester have posted solid numbers for first place teams but they are not quite on par with Lee or Halladay.
Closers will definitely get strong consideration at this point in the season, the Angels’ Francisco Rodriguez has 38 saves and a strong ERA, and the Yankees’ Mariano Rivers has not blown a save yet. Also, the Twins’ Joe Nathan is posting great numbers again.
Others Deserving Consideration: Roy Halladay, Francisco Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, Justin Duchscherer, Jon Lester