As baseball’s unofficial halfway point draws near with the MLB All-Star Game next week in Kansas City, just about every baseball scribe worth their salt is throwing out their picks for who should win the major awards of the sport based on what we have seen in the first half.
We have seen a slew of fantastic storylines emerge, with perfect games by Phillip Humber and Matt Cain, two cycles in two weeks by Aaron Hill, a blistering start by Josh Hamilton, and a resurgence by Adam Dunn.
We’ve also seen several teams come out of nowhere to join the playoff fight, with the Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, and Pittsburgh Pirates heading that list. With the addition of a Wild Card spot in each league, baseball has invited more parity into the game, and these three teams are certainly going to look to take advantage of that as we get further into the dog days of summer.
With all of these storylines playing out, there is the matter of getting back to the prognosticating that the pundits are doing, and we here at Rant Sports are doing our part to join in that trend.
Without further adieu, here are my picks for the first half MLB Awards:
AL MVP: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
Hamilton has had a very solid first half to the season, slugging 26 home runs and knocking in 74 runs, putting him on pace to obliterate his career highs in both categories. He has been struggling as of late, but his performance has been largely great, so he is a deserving candidate for the award.
Mike Trout of the Angels is one of several other players who warrant serious consideration in the AL, with guys like Paul Konerko and Robinson Cano also being part of that group.
NL MVP: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
While just about any other pundit has slotted Joey Votto of the Reds for this distinction, McCutchen is just as deserving and has vaulted the Pirates from after-thoughts into serious contenders for the NL Central crown. He has slugged 16 home runs and knocked in 55 runs, and his OPS is a very respectable 1.016. If the word “Valuable” is going to have a great deal of meaning in determining who should win the Award, then Andrew certainly is the best candidate.
Besides Votto, guys like Melky Cabrera, Carlos Beltran, and David Wright also deserve a look for the trophy.
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
David Price, Justin Verlander, and Jered Weaver are all very deserving of consideration for this award, and even his own White Sox teammate Jake Peavy can make a strong case, but Sale has been a complete surprise in his first season a closer for the AL Central leading Sox.
With a 10-2 record, 2.19 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, and an All-Star appearance on his resume, Sale has fully turned the corner from potential closer for Chicago and made himself into a potentially elite level starter in a league that eats pitchers for breakfast. If he can put up a 19 win season for a championship-contending club, he should be in the driver’s seat to take down this award at the end of the year too.
NL Cy Young: RA Dickey, New York Mets
There really aren’t any slam dunks for awards so far this year, but if there are, it would have to be Mr. Dickey for his phenomenal season with the Mets. He has 123 strikeouts already, and is already 11 away from setting a new career high. He is 12-1 as well, and when you factor in his league-leading 0.93 WHIP, you have yourself a guy who it would nearly be a crime to take the Cy Young away from.
Besides Dickey helping the Mets into contention, you also have Matt Cain, Clayton Kershaw, and Cole Hamels with strong arguments to be made.
NL Rookie of the Year: Wade Miley, Arizona Diamondbacks
Bryce Harper of the Nationals is making a huge push to snare this award, but for the time being, Miley still has to be the guy. His 9-5 record and ERA slightly above three isn’t exactly the most sterling resume to ever be given consideration for Rookie of the Year, but that’s only the case after a couple of subpar outings in a row.
All things considered, his story of going from surprise roster addition to long reliever to dominant starter cannot be ignored, and his All-Star berth is a testament to that. Harper is going to overtake him in all likelihood, but looking at the first half of the season as a whole, Miley is my guy.
AL Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout
Yu Darvish has been a sensation since coming over from Japan to pitch for the Rangers, and Will Middlebrooks has been great for the Red Sox, but the other runaway winner is the 20-year old outfielder for the Angels.
Trout has blown just about everyone away with his excellent start to his career, having already stolen 26 bases and socked 10 home runs in his first full years in the bigs. He is also leading the AL with a .348 batting average, and has a plus-.400 OBP as well. We could be looking at a legitimate superstar in the years to come, but for now, Trout will just be trying to help the Angels make the playoffs in an American League stacked with contenders.