Quick question: Why doesn’t the MLB make the All-Star game at the exact halfway point of the season? Everybody is so quick to anoint the All-Star break as the unofficially halfway mark, so why not just make it the official end of the first half? Like, every team plays 81 games (barring rain outs) before the All-Star break?
I know, if you move the exhibition game and all the festivities a week earlier, you run into the July 4th holiday. But, so what? The All-Star game is increasingly becoming a joke anyways, as the fact that many, many players turned down the opportunity to appear this year would indicate.
That way, whenever anybody refers to “the end of the first half,” it would actually be a true half, rather than 90-95 games. Makes more sense, no?
But, until that happens, I guess we just have to keep going as is. With more than half the season gone, let’s hand out some awards already!
MVP—Matt Kemp, OF, LAD
This one was tough, as most of the top fantasy players in 2011 were not Top 10 draft picks, including Jose Bautista (everybody had question marks), Curtis Granderson (who saw this power stroke coming?) and Jose Reyes (don’t call it a comeback…or should you??). But, the best of the bunch is Kemp. The Kempinator. No matter your format, the Dodgers centerfielder is either at the top or near the top of the hitters list. A .313 AVG, 55 runs, 22 homers, 67 RBIs, 27 stolen bases will do that for ya. Not bad for a guy who was drafted in the third round on average.
Cy Young—Justin Verlander, SP, DET
This guy has been crazy in ’11!! Twelve wins, 151 innings, 4 CGs, 2 SHOs, 147 strikeouts, a 2.15 ERA and an 0.87 WHIP? That’s a first half for the ages. In a year when everybody was touting either Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee as the king of pitchers, Verlander has taken the crown and has his foot on the gas—100 mph gas, that is.
Honorable Mention—James Shields, SP, TB (how good as he been?)
Rookie of the Year—Michael Pineda, SP, SEA
For a guy who has never thrown a Major League inning prior to 2011, Pineda looks like a wily veteran out there in Seattle. He’s been making it rain in the country’s wettest city to the tune of 8 wins, 113 Ks, a 3.03 ERA and a stellar 1.04 WHIP. It’s too bad he doesn’t have anything close to resembling an offense behind him, otherwise he could challenge for 20 wins in his first season.
Honorable Mention—Danny Espinosa, 2B, WAS (great power numbers at a shallow position)
Rolaids Relief Man of the Year—Joel Hanrahan, CP, PIT
Who would have guessed a Pirate would lead this category? But thanks to his team’s surprising start, Hanrahan has had 26 save chances…and rocked ‘em all. His 7.81 K/9 is unimpressive, especially for a closer, but if he hasn’t blown a save and boasts a 1.34 ERA and .92 WHIP, what does it matter?
Honorable Mention—Craig Kimbrel, CP, ATL (Has more saves than Hanrahan (28) and a better K/9 (13.70), but he’s also blown 5 saves)
Biggest Surprise—Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, CLE
I’m going to have to go with him here. I know there are a bunch of options (including Granderson’s power, Shields’ ace status, Hanrahan’s ice veins and Kemp finally putting it all together), but Cabrera’s start has to take the cake. For a guy that has never hit more than 8 homers at any professional level, Cabrera’s 14 homers in his first 80 games was enough to drop jaws around the land. Throw in his great stats across the board (.293 AVG, 12 steals, 55 runs, 51 RBIs, .836 OPS) and the fact that he plays one of the shallowest positions in the game and you have yourself a bonafide fantasy MVP.
Honorable Mention—Lance Berkman, OF, STL (the Puma is back!)
Biggest Bust—Hanley Ramirez, SS, FLA
Much ado has been made about Albert Pujols’ slow start, but it really hasn’t been all that bad overall. Just bad for The Machine’s standards. But, Hanley has been bad by any account. He has just 64 hits in 73 games ( a .241 average), just 18 extra base hits (and a .370 slugging percentage), and has only driven in 37 runs hitting in the middle of a decent Marlins lineup all year. Hanley’s .706 OPS is just plain awful. His only saving grace is his 15 thefts, but is that worth a No. 1 overall draft pick like some thought he was? I think not.
Honorable Mention—Mat Latos, SP, SD (I wouldn’t even put him as a Top 50 SP this year and I just don’t think he’s that good overall. 2010 was a bit of a fluke)
C Silver Slugger—Alex Avila, DET
Hands down the best fantasy catcher this year. With Joe Mauer’s tired legs, Victor Martinez’ so-so season and Russell Martin’s tanking after his awesome start, Avila is the up-and-coming stud at the position. Buster Posey’s injury hasn’t hurt things, either.
Honorable Mention—Brian McCann, ATL (sturdy veteran each and every year)
1B Silver Slugger—Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
Duh. Nobody has been even close to A-Gon, who is challenging for a batting title, the AL RBI crown and likely the AL MVP.
Honorable Mention—Joey Votto, CIN (doesn’t have the power numbers just yet, but is a stud across the board)
2B Silver Slugger—Dustin Pedroia, BOS
For a guy that allegedly has a knee injury, it’s odd that he’s just 4 thefts away from a career high in steals…with almost half the season remaining. Pedroia’s power is still there and is also drawing more walks than any other year in his career.
Honorable Mention—Robinson Cano, NYY (this guy will win an MVP, mark my words)
3B Silver Slugger—Jose Bautista, TOR
Wow, is 3B shallow this year, huh? Thank the heavens Joey Bats still qualifies there. Otherwise, we’d have to go with…Adrian Beltre? Kevin Youkilis? Mark Reynolds? Alex Rodriguez? Jeesh, who knows and who cares? Joey Bats it is!
SS Silver Slugger—Jose Reyes, NYM
I love Cabrera, he’s my newest favorite player. But, you can’t deny Reyes’ return to form. The self-annointed (and backed by A-Rod) most exciting player in the game, Reyes is hitting .354 with 65 runs and 30 steals.
Honorable Mention—Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE
OF Silver Slugger—Matt Kemp, LAD
The NL MVP? I’d say so, even if the Dodgers aren’t going to make the playoffs.
Honorable Mention—Jose Bautista, TOR (he still qualifies as OF, so I’m gonna give him an HM, even if he already earned a defacto SS Award for 3B)
OF Silver Slugger—Curtis Granderson, NYY
The kid is on fire this year! Look at his projected numbers: 145 runs, 79 XBH (including 46 HRs), 116 RBIs, 83 BBs, 28 SBs. Wowza.
Honorable Mention—Ryan Braun, MIL (when did he become such a good baserunner?)
OF Silver Slugger—Andrew McCutchen, PIT
He didn’t get his due for the All-Star game right away, so I’ll give it to him here. With a very subpar lineup (despite their record) surrounding him in Pittsburgh, Cutch has been a borderline fantasy MVP, performing excellently in every single category anybody could even think up to include in fantasy.
Honorable Mention—Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS (he’s baaaaacckkkkkk)