Around this time of the baseball season, things wind down to a dull roar for the few days. The All-Star Game may be fun and exciting for the guys chosen to go, but while Wade Miley is living it up in Kansas City, the rest of his Arizona Diamondbacks teammates will be getting a few days of well-earned rest before they resume their season on Friday against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
The Diamondbacks came into the break on a very nice run, winning three games in a row against the Los Angeles Dodgers to close the gap in the NL West to only four games. More than half of their remaining games this season are against teams from the West, so they’ll have plenty of opportunities to make up even more ground as time wears on.
With all of that aside, the break is a good time to look back at the first half of the season, and explore just how exactly the team got to where they are. It has been a time frame made more difficult by a slew of injuries to guys like Chris Young and Daniel Hudson, but it has also been a time of big contributions from new faces. Guys like Miley and Jason Kubel have come onto the scene in Phoenix and really kept this team in the hunt, and the prohibitive favorites to repeat as division champions this year are within striking distance of doing just that as the league catches its breath for a few days.
The real question then is who exactly is the Diamondbacks’ MVP of the first half? Which player has had the single biggest impact on where this team is at this point in the year, and which guy will be looked at to carry the biggest burden moving forward?
There are five realistic options for that honor, and we’ll count them down until we get to the most deserving candidate:
5th Place: Gerardo Parra, OF
Parra had every reason to be upset when the season began. His job in left field was snatched by newly acquired free agent Kubel, and even though he had won a Gold Glove the season before, he would be splitting time instead of starting.
He didn’t let any of that faze him, continuing to play the field at a high level, and he also has been solid at the plate, hitting six home runs, driving in 25 RBI and racking up an OBP of .345. Couple that with his admirable filling in for Young during his injury spell in May, and you have a guy who has been an integral part of this team’s success so far.
4th Place: Wade Miley, P
One would think that a pitcher who started the year as a barely there long reliever would have stayed out of the limelight, but Miley has been fantastic since he was promoted to the starting rotation following the injury to Hudson and the failures of Josh Collmenter.
Not only did Miley make the All-Star team, but he has also been arguably the Diamondbacks’ best pitcher, leading the team in wins, ERA, and WHIP. Couple all of that with his .323 batting average, and you have a guy who’s in the conversation as team MVP for sure.
3rd Place: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
Goldschmidt came into the season as one of the hottest prospects for a break out year in the majors, but he started out incredibly slowly, eventually splitting time with Lyle Overbay and spending long spells not being able to hit the broad side of a barn.
He has a team leading 25 doubles, has socked 12 home runs and driven in 42 more, including a career high four on Sunday against the Dodgers, and has even stolen eight bases. He has the best OPS on the team at .920, and he finally has locked down a spot in the order that everyone assumed he would grab from the word GO in spring training.
2nd Place: Aaron Hill, 2B
The race for the top spot on this list was a dead heat, but Hill barely misses out. His .300 batting average has been great, with 11 home runs and 40 RBI as well. Add to that the two cycles he has hit for this season, making him only the second person in league history to accomplish that feat, but he also has been a Godsend at second base while working with a trio of shortstops, which isn’t the easiest thing to do.
Factor all of those things in, as well as his team leading 82 games played, and you have a guy who shows up for work every day ready to go, and he has been an absolute rock as the team tries to fight back into the playoff picture.
1st Place: Jason Kubel, OF
He may have come in to replace Parra in left field, but Jason Kubel has done so much more than that during his time with the Diamondbacks. After adjusting slowly to NL pitching, Kubel has started to turn things around in a big way, coming into the break leading the team in home runs with 15 and RBI with 60.
Not only has he been great with his bat, but he has also been using his glove to great advantage too, leading the league in assists and frequently popping up on team highlight videos with his great catches in the outfield, including a couple of great foul territory catches during the last homestand. Mix that all together, and you have the quintessential team MVP for this club, and Kubel is a very deserving winner of that distinction.