MLB: First Half Awards

Steve O Speak

We are well over the half-way point in the baseball season, since the All-Star game is complete, now is a good time to look at our 1st Half award winners:

American League:

MVP: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

Yes I know there are a number of good candidates on winning teams (basically all in the AL East above Toronto), but I don’t believe winning is a sole prerequisite for winning this award. Bautista is simply dominating right now and no one is even close. His .702 slugging percentage is amazing as no one else is even at .600. And to top it all off Bautista doesn’t have the lineup protection that hitters from the Yankees and Red Sox have.

CY Young: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

This is a close one as you can make a case for 5-7 players. To me though Verlander has a slight edge. He is first in innings pitched and WHIP, 2nd in ERA and batting average against, 5th in K/9 innings and 6th in BB/9 innings. For me the fact that he is dominating so many categories it gives him the edge over Weaver who has an ERA under 2.00.

ROY: Michael Pineda, Seattle Mariners

There are a few other interesting pitchers and one or two hitters who are ‘in the discussion’, but really this is Pineda’s award. He has been flat out dominate since joining the majors and he is only hurt by having his innings limited on a bad team. It might be the best for him long term, but it has led to just an average 8-6 record. His other numbers though are of an All-Star variety so he runs away with this award in my book.

Manager of the Year: Manny Acta, Cleveland Indians

Yeah you can make a case for Terry Francona for rebounding from a bad start (but that start is also his responsibility as well) or Joe Maddon for keeping the Rays in it despite the roster turnover, slashing $30 million from the payroll and the Manny Ramirez debacle, but this has to go to Manny Acta. I always hesitate to assign to much credit to a manager, but I can’t argue against this. The Indians have 47 wins right now and are in 1st place, two things I would have never predicted. I considered the Indians to be a team that had a chance to lose 100 games this year and were likely going to be in the cellar of the AL Central. While they might not maintain the division lead the fact that they have been in it this long is impressive.

National League:

MVP: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

Alright you could say this is an agenda pick, but it really isn’t that far fetched. Sure Jose Reyes is a great choice, and Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun have been great as well, but McCutchen is probably the best all-around player in the game right now. Now I know people will say that is crazy but look at some of the numbers. Despite Reyes having a .065 advantage in batting average (.354-.289) he has just a .007 advantage in OBP. While Reyes has an insane .529 Slugging %, McCutchen isn’t too shabby at .495 (just .002 below Pujols). Their wOBA (weighted on-base average) are both in the top 8 and are separated by just .016 points. The big difference for me is defense. Both play tough defensive positions, but while Reyes has been just above average, McCutchen has been down right incredible. He is at a Gold Glove standard (and deserving it as well). That advantage in defense has saved a ton of runs this year and has helped put the Pirates in playoff contention.

CY Young: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies

Pick a Phillie any Phillie and you will probably find your Cy Young winner. Right now though Halladay has separated himself from the pack. He is dominating everyone right now and I don’t think this race is too close.

ROY: Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals

There are a couple interesting names including fellow Nationals teammate Wilson Ramos, but Espinosa is best rookie so far this season. While his average has been lower than you want it to be, he is showing great pop. Espinosa has 16 HR’s so far this season, plus an additional 19 other extra base hits. He is playing great defense at 2nd base and has been efficient on the basepaths getting caught just twice in 14 tries. Espinosa is quickly making a name for himself in the league and right now is arguably a top 5 2B and a borderline All-Star.

Manager of the Year: Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates

You can make a case for a few guys, including Jim Riggleman who is no longer coaching, but I think it has to be Hurdle. The Pirates last year had the worst record in baseball with just 57 wins, they already have 46 this year. What makes this single season turnaround even more impressive is the fact that the Pirates didn’t bring in any big name free agents, just a number of role players who they thought could play. Also, this isn’t just a one year issue. The Pirates haven’t finished above .500 since before Bill Clinton was elected president (Oct. 1992). Right now the Pirates are 3 games above .500 and just one game out of the division lead, and for that Hurdle gets my vote.

Do you agree or disagree with these selections?



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