The Major League Baseball season has reached its halfway point with the All Star Game taking place this past Tuesday night. The American League defeated the National League 3-0 to seize home field advantage in the World Series this season. Players all over the league have made an impact this season in one way or another. I, Eddie McDonald along with fellow MMOS writer Chuckie Maggio will give out our midseason MLB awards. While we are dedicated to objectivity, we’re fans with opinions as well!
Eddie: Miguel Cabrera- Detroit Tigers
There is no doubt in my mind that Miguel Cabrera is the AL MVP thus far. He has a batting line of .365/.458/.674. Cabrera’s 30 home runs is good enough for second behind Chris Davis’ 37. Don’t forget the 95 RBIs, 132 hits, and 73 runs scored. Did I mention it was the All Star Break? Cabrera will be looking to win his second consecutive Triple Crown after the league hasn’t seen one of those since 1967. He has his Tigers in first place in the AL Central and is having a monster season.
Chuckie: Miguel Cabrera- Detroit Tigers
This one is a no-brainer. A couple years ago, a player getting the Triple Crown seemed like a far-off fantasy. Now, Miggy has a chance to win the Triple Crown in back-to-back years. He may fall short in the home run category (Chris Davis is seven long balls ahead), but he’s the MVP regardless. 43 points separate him and Mike Trout for the batting title, and he and Davis are running away in the RBI department. No AL player has more points in the wins above replacement (WAR category), and he’s been more patient at the plate than any batter (evidenced by his 60 walks in the first half). It may be a little premature to rank his place in history, but he’s had a better year-and-a-half stretch than any player not named Bonds or Ruth. No player has been more valuable to his team than Miguel Cabrera.
Eddie: Yadier Molina- St. Louis Cardinals
Yadier Molina is my NL MVP at the All Star Break. In my opinion, Molina is the best catcher in the big leagues and is proving so this season. He has led his St. Louis Cardinals to first place in the NL Central with a batting line of .341/.386/.489. He has hit seven home runs in addition to driving in 49 RBIs. He has only struck out 33 times in 323 at bats. He was the NL starting catcher in the All Star Game as well.
Chuckie: Carlos Gonzalez- Colorado Rockies
This one’s a little more wide-open, but I’m going with “CarGo”. Gonzalez leads many statistical categories at the break; he’s the leader in home runs, slugging, and OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage). There’s one reason many people will discount his MVP candidacy so far, and that’s that the Rockies are struggling, with a 46-50 record at the break. But with how bad the NL West has been this year, they’re only 4.5 games out of first place, and without Gonzalez’s 25 homers and 64 runs batted in, Colorado would not be in the position they’re in. That’s what the MVP is all about; who’s most valuable to their team? Right now, my vote goes to Gonzalez.
AL Cy Young
Eddie: Max Scherzer- Detroit Tigers
Max Scherzer has been sensational this season for the Tigers. He sports a 13-1 record with a 3.19 ERA and 152 strikeouts in 129.2 innings pitched. He has a WHIP of 0.98 and opposing hitters are batting just .206 against him. He was the first pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1991 to start out the season 13-0. Scherzer was the AL starter in the All Star Game; normally it would be teammate Justin Verlander getting all the accolades, but this time, it’s Scherzer.
Chuckie: Max Scherzer- Detroit Tigers
Just like the AL MVP, the Tigers’ best pitcher runs away with the first-half Cy Young. A 13-0 start on the mound surprised the baseball world, one loss certainly doesn’t diminish what Scherzer has meant to his ball club. He’s second in the league in strikeouts and sixth in innings pitched, making him a candidate for MVP at the break as well. He’s an innings eater, which Jim Leyland certainly appreciates, and will be counted on to pitch deep into games down the stretch. There are other quality pitchers in the American League, but no one has been more outstanding than Scherzer.
NL Cy Young
Eddie: Patrick Corbin- Arizona Diamondbacks
Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks is 11-1 on the season and my midseason Cy Young. He has a 2.35 ERA with 109 strikeouts. His WHIP is 1.00 and is allowing opposing batters to hit just .206 off him, much like Scherzer. In his second MLB season, he is flourishing and has helped the Diamondbacks to first place in the NL West.
Chuckie: Clayton Kershaw- Los Angeles Dodgers
Throw the less-than-stellar record out the window; Kershaw is the best pitcher in the National League. He leads the majors in ERA and WHIP (walks and hits divided by innings pitched) despite receiving some of the worst run support in the league (L.A. only scores an average of 3 runs per Kershaw start). The Dodgers are 2.5 games behind the D-Backs for first place in the West, and if they are going to win the division, they have to start helping out their ace. Kershaw is the Cy Young winner thus far.
Eddie: Jose Iglesias- Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox haven’t had much luck at the shortstop position since Nomar Garciaparra was manning the position. This year they may have found a suitable one in Jose Iglesias, my AL Rookie of the Year. He leads all AL rookies with a .367 batting average. He also leads the AL rookies in hits with 66. He is no Garciaparra, but he is getting the job done for the first place Boston Red Sox.
Chuckie: Jose Iglesias- Boston Red Sox
As someone who constantly called for Boston to find a better option at shortstop/third base in the past year, I’ve been stood corrected by Jose Iglesias. Everyone said he couldn’t hit consistently in the big leagues, yet he has hit .367 with an OPS of .878 this season. Everyone knew he was stellar in the field, and he’s proven himself at both infield positions, with only one error on the year. Iglesias is a big reason the Sox are on top of the AL East, and he’s a deserving rookie of the year.
Eddie: Evan Gattis- Atlanta Braves & Yasiel Puig
I have two guys as my co-NL Rookie of the Year; Evan Gattis of the Atlanta Braves and Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Gattis has been one of baseball’s best stories this season after all that he has been through. He has 14 home runs and 37 RBIs, not bad for a backup catcher. His powerful swing has helped the Braves to first place in the NL East, and will only help even more once he returns from injury. Puig has been a breath of fresh air for the Dodgers since being called up over a month ago. He has set the baseball world ablaze with a batting line of .391/.422/.616. He has 59 hits in 38 games with half of those games being multi-hit games. Since his arrival, the Dodgers have played much better.
Chuckie: Shelby Miller- St. Louis Cardinals
A year ago, Shelby Miller was pitching poorly in AAA ball, with an ERA of 6.00 and a fastball that topped out at 88 miles per hour. Flash forward to now, and he’s 9-6 with a 2.92 ERA for the team with the best record in baseball. His fastball is in the 92-94 range, and he will most likely be pitching in October. Opposing batters are hitting just .225 against him, righties batting just .183. In a very tight NL ROY race that will include Yasiel Puig by the end of the season, Miller gets a slight edge over the competition.
AL Manager of the Year
Eddie- John Ferrell- Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are long past the Bobby Valentine era, which consisted of a lot of he-said she-said, fried chicken, and beer. Those days are way behind the current Red Sox team. The team has the best record in the MLB at 58-39. A big hand in that is manager John Farrell. After coming back to Boston from Toronto, the Red Sox have been like how we’ve seen them the past decade or so, on top.
Chuckie: John Ferrell- Boston Red Sox
While the man he replaced in Boston will get some votes for Manager of the Year, right now John Farrell is the leader. The Boston Red Sox won 69 games in 2012; they’ve won 58 in the first half alone this season. The return to the top of the AL East was not an easy task for Farrell. Not only did he have to solve the bullpen issue (which he’s solved for the time-being with Koji Uehara), and solve the issues in the infield (which Iglesias has gone a long way into solving), but he had to restore order in a clubhouse with too many issues and poisons to count. The chemistry of this team isn’t as great as the ’04 or ’07 teams, but it’s improved 150% from where it was with Bobby Valentine. As David Ortiz told MLB Network’s crew before the All-Star Game last night, “Every morning he comes up to each of us individually and asks us ‘How are you doing? How are you feeling?’ That means a lot because it shows he cares about us as people, and you want to play your best for a guy like that.” Big Papi said it all in that interview.
NL Manager of the Year
Eddie: Kirk Gibson- Arizona Diamondbacks
Kirk Gibson has the Arizona Diamondbacks sitting atop the NL West over the likes of the reigning, defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants and the wallet heavy Los Angeles Dodgers. Gibson has led the D’Backs to a 50-45 record. He is my NL Manager of the Year.
Chuckie: Clint Hurdle- Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates have not had a winning record since 1992. They looked like they were going to break that curse at the All-Star break last year, but they slumped down the stretch. This year, it looks like a different story is about to unfold. Unlike some managers, who take collapses in previous years to heart and can never recover from them, it looks like Clint Hurdle has already turned the page. You know fans are excited in Pittsburgh when the top Twitter trend after the verdict in the Zimmerman trial had nothing to do with the trial; it was “Raise the Jolly Roger”, with fans coming together to celebrate the Buccos’ first half success, 140 characters at a time. Hurdle’s club is one game out of the Central, but is looking good to have a strong second half and make a run for the division title.
AL Surprise Player
Eddie: Josh Hamilton- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
I would go with the obvious choice of Chris Davis here, but I am going a different route. My most surprising AL player this season is Josh Hamilton. After signing a mega contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, many people (myself included) penciled the Angels to be in the World Series this season. You would figure with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols around him, Hamilton would only bolster that lineup. Well think again, because he is only batting .224 with 14 home runs and 39 RBI, not to mention he has struck out 95 times.
Chuckie: Josh Hamilton- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
This is not a good surprise. After Hamilton signed a massive, $125 million contract with the Angels in December; many baseball fans were already crowning Anaheim champions of baseball. Those same fans are now working as hard as they can to go back and delete all social media posts where that declaration was made and pretend it never happened. In his first season with the Angels, Hamilton is batting .224 with just 39 RBIs and 95 strikeouts. Against lefties, his average is .153, 100 points less than his .253 average against right-handers. Pitchers have figured him out this year: pitch him up in the zone and you’ll get him to swing and miss. Unless Hamilton and the Angels can figure it out, there will be no postseason for Mike Scoscia’s club for a second straight year.
NL Surprise Player
Eddie: Michael Cuddyer- Colorado Rockies
Michael Cuddyer is having himself one hell of a season thus far. His batting line is .330/.391/.568. He has knocked 16 balls out of the park this season and has 55 RBIs with 94 hits. He has been a huge reason why the Rockies are keeping themselves relevant in the NL West, as they are only 4.5 games out of first.
Chuckie: Patrick Corbin- Arizona Diamondbacks
Who would have thought that Patrick Corbin, who went 6-8, last year with a 4.54 ERA, would have an 11-1 record with a 2.35 ERA for the first-place Diamondbacks this year? The 23-year old got a well-deserved All-Star selection and may be on his way to a 20-win season if he can keep up his strong performance in the second half.
AL Surprise Team
Eddie: New York Yankees
The New York Yankees started the season without Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira, yet they are only six games behind the Red Sox for first place in the AL East. They have put in players I have never heard of and have gotten the job done a lot. Now can this success be sustained? That is a question only time can answer.
Chuckie: Boston Red Sox (for reasons in Farrell MOY)
NL Surprise Team
Eddie: Washington Nationals
Last season the Washington Nationals made a lot of noise by making the postseason. This past offseason many people picked the Nationals to make a deep playoff run. Those predictions are a long way off, but luckily for those of you who picked a ton of success for the Nats, there is plenty of baseball to be played. Washington’s record is just 48-47 and current sit second in the NL East, six games back of the Braves and five back of a wild card spot.
Chuckie: Pittsburgh Pirates (for reasons in Hurdle MOY)