MLB All-Star Break Awards
Rookie of the Year: Jose Abreu (1B) Chicago White Sox. Jose Abreu has been one of the biggest stories of the first half with his display of immense power and strength. He was the fastest player to hit 25 HR’s in a season, doing it in just 67 games. Many speculated the 27-year old Abreu could help the White Sox in his first season. But I’m not sure how many predicted he’d be at 30 home runs before the All-Star break. Mark McGwire has the rookie record at 33 HR’s by the break, set in 1987 with the Athletics. If Abreu didn’t have a stint on the DL I think he could have broke that record too. The best way to describe him for me is a mixture of Albert Belle and Frank Thomas. Yea I know, scary. And to think the White Sox are paying him just $7 Million this season, I’d say they are getting a great deal. I can tell the other White Sox players respect him and want to play hard for him. He’s already becoming a leader in the clubhouse.
Other Notables: Masahiro Tanaka, Yordano Ventura
Comeback Player of the Year: Nelson Cruz (OF) I know what some of you might be thinking. How can someone who hit 27 Home Runs in just 109 games even be qualified for this award? I think this award is the most subjective, but definitely the most interesting of all the awards. Players win this award for “re-emerging” on the field during a season. It could be they had a previous injury or struggled the prior season. The fans used to vote for this award but now a collection of MLB beat writers do. I think those writers might feel differently on how hard it is to come back from an injury, struggling season or even a suspension. That’s why it’s easy to come up with several nominees for this award. Especially after how many pitchers are coming back after succesful Tommy John surgeries. Let’s take a look at what has happened to Nelson Cruz the past year. The 2013 season ended early for Cruz, he was suspended for 50 games for PED use. He turned down a $14 Million qualifying offer from the Rangers to test the open market, only to sign a 1-year $8 million deal with the Orioles. Buck Showalter enjoys getting players the Rangers are finished with. Cruz was ready to leave after the suspension and the missed game winning catch in the 2012 World Series in St. Louis. He fills in the DH role more in Baltimore than he did in Texas, which helps him focus on his hitting more. Nelson is currently hitting (.287) with 29HR’s 74RBI’s 76Runs at the break. He is showing what kind of player everyone missed out on when they didn’t sign him this offseason. If Cruz can stay clean and healthy he could easily hit 50-60 HR’s this season. I’d say that’s a steal for $8 Million.
Other Notables: Scott Kazmir, Phil Hughes, Albert Pujols.
CY Young: Felix Hernandez (SP) Seattle Mariners: Felix Hernandez is having an amazing season, even by King Felix standards. He’s on pace to have his lowest ERA, WHIP, highest win total, strikeouts and batting average against. The Mariners started out the season hot, then cooled off, and now they’ve started to heat up again. But the great thing about 2014 is Felix is actually getting run support. He had a great season last year that was overlooked because of his win total (12). He already has 11 wins by the break. You can pretty much lock the award down if he stays on this pace and get’s 20 wins. He went 19-5 in 2009 so I know he wants to reach that 20 win mark. I’m always a little more impressed when a pitcher like him stays in the American League and dominates year after year. Justin Verlander is in his 10th season and starting to fade while King Felix is having a career year in his 10th season. Hernandez is the clear cut favorite for this award going into the 2nd half of the season.
Other Notables: Chris Sale, Garrett Richards, Scott Kazmir
MVP: Mike Trout (OF) Los Angeles Angels: After spending tons of cash in free agency the past couple seasons and getting nothing but average results at best, the Angels are finally starting to look like a solid team. Maybe even a playoff bound team if they can get the Wild Card spot. Because nobody will be catching the Athletics this season. Mike Trout is a huge reason why the Angels are so succesful. Not that Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton haven’t improved immensely, but Trout is the spark at the top of lineup who provides consistency, power and speed. Which is very rare package in baesball. He’s hitting (.310) with 22HR’s 73RBI’s 65 Runs 10SB’s at the break. I think he will actually bring that average up to around .330 and start stealing bases more frequently. He’s a perfect 10-for-10 on steal attempts this season. As for the reason why I don’t have Miggy as the MVP, he just hasn’t been the same hitter this season compared to 2012 and 2013. In fact, Victor Martinez, Tori Hunter and Ian Kinsler have been just as important if not more for the Tigers in 2014. I think the MVP race in the American League is much more wide open than it has been the past couple of seasons. It’s just sad to see how great Adrian Beltre and Jose Altuve have been playing this season and they probably won’t even get considered because how bad their teams have been this season. It should be fun to see how this award plays out.
Other Notables: Nelson Cruz, Jose Abreu, Victor Martinez.
Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin Oakland Athletics: Many fans thought the A’s weren’t gonna be as good this season with the loss of A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker. Jesse Chavez (7-6 3.14ERA) and Tommy Milone (6-3 3.55ERA) have helped replace the two. Give Melvin credit for filling shoes for two starting pitchers they had to have. I know the the teams manager isn’t always responsible for all the teams success. But ever since Billy Beane hired Melvin in 2011, the Athletics have been nothing short of a spectacular ball club. Not to mention they have improved every season. The Athletics had 94 wins in 2012, 96 wins in 2013 and are on pace to get 100 wins in 2014. They have more victories (59) than any team in the league. They have the best run differential in the majors at a whoppping (+145). Just to give you an idea how good that is, the Angels are the second best run differential team at (+89). Now they just need to turn their regular season success into playoff victories.
Other Notables: Buck Showalter (Orioles)
Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton (OF) Cincinatti Reds: Hamilton was one of those players that everyone couldn’t wait to watch play in the majors. All the hype surounding him was legit. He’s been a bright spot at the top of the order for the Reds the entire season. Cincinatti fans are used to relying on players like Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to provide offense. It looks like those days are over. Billy Hamilton, Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco are the future of the Reds organization. Billy has a batting clip of (.285/.319/.423) so far and is second in the N.L in stolen bases (38), and tied for 3rd in triples (6). And the good news about Hamilton is he’s getting better as the year goes on. He hit (.327) in June and (.407) the final week before the all-star break.
Other Notables: Kolten Wong, Gregory Polanco, Chris Owings
Comeback Player of the Year: Johnny Cueto (SP) Cincinatti Reds: Cueto couldn’t stay off the DL in 2013. He had a series of lat muscle injuries and only accumulated 60 innings. The right-hander has dominated the first half of the season. Cueto has done that by posting 18 quality starts in his 20 appearances. He’s posted a 10-6 record with a 2.13ERA 0.89WHIP 141K’s in 143.2IP. So a 20 win, 250K+ season is a very possible projection for the Reds ace. Obviously he can only win this award if he continues staying off the DL.
CY Young: Clayton Kershaw: This was the easiest award to recognize. It’s just a shame he nearly missed the first month of the season. Kershaw was nothing short of amazing in 2013 putting up a 16-9 record 1.83ERA 0.92WHIP 236K’s with hitters batting just (.195) against him. So far this season he’s (11-2) 1.78ERA 0.83WHIP 126K’s in just 96IP. Which includes a 41-inning scoreless streak that was ended by a Chase Headley home run. He doesn’t walk many batters either (13), and hitters are batting just (.191) against him this season. Another mind-blowing stat is he’s only given up 67 hits in his 96IP this season. In a year dominated by many great arms, Kershaw still stands out above the rest. And he seems to have even more confidence and drive this season. He really didn’t like missing those starts. Look for him to continue his magic in 2014.
Other Notables: Adam Wainwright, Johnny Cueto
MVP: Troy Tulowtizki (SS) Colorado Rockies: I know the Rockies aren’t in any position to make a playoff run but Tulowitzki is my first-half MVP. Not only are his numbers insane, but he’s a rare middle infielder with size, power and consistency. He has near priceless value when he stays off the DL. So far so good this season, so let’s keep our fingers crossed. Tulo could quite possibly win the Triple Crown. He’s the N.L. leader in Avg. (.345), Home Runs (21) and 7th in RBI’s (52). He also the leader in on-base percentage (.435) and slugging percentage (.635), which of course makes him the leader in OPS as well (1.048). Troy always seems to get hot when the weather cools down. So I don’t expect him his numbers to dive at all. The fans of Colorado can only hope and pray the fragile shortstop can avoid another injury. Tulo is having a career season and I want to see his numbers for a full 2014.
Other Notables: Andrew McCutchen
Manager of the Year: Matt Williams Washington Nationals: I know 6 other teams have 50+ wins in the National League but I think the Williams deserves some credit in Washington. The Nationals (51-42) are currently tied for first in the N.L. East with the Atlanta Braves (52-43). They have done that by allowing the fewest runs in the N.L., and having the highest run differential of any team (+61). The pitching staff has the lowest ERA in the N.L. (3.08). Even though the Nats aren’t dominating any team batting categories, they are having some nice individual performances by certain players. Ian Desmond has had a hell of a season so far at shortstop (16HR 57RBI’s). Anthony Rendon is worth mentioning, he’s hit 24 Doubles 5 Triples 13HR’s 53RBI’s and added 8SB’s. They have at least 4 players with 12 or more home runs. A list which doesn’t include Zimmerman, who I think will do nothing but help this lineup which he was missing from earlier this season. Zimmerman missed nearly 2 months with a fractured thumb but returned June 3rd. I expect the strong pitching to continue wouldn’t be suprised if the Nats celebrate a division title in 2014.