By Jordan Wevers @JordanWevers on July 15, 2014
Baseball has always been a sport distinguished by two halves. Here are my leading AL award candidates for the first half of 2014.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a better all-around player in baseball since Trout broke into the league full time in 2012 as a 20-year old phenom. He placed second in AL MVP voting that year, overshadowed by Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown season, of course. This year, the Millville Meteor ranks 2nd in Rs (65), 4th in HRs (22), 3rd in RBI (73) and 1st in OPS (1.005) and TB (209).
1st DH V. Martinez (DET)
2nd 1B E. Encarnacion (TOR)
Felix Hernandez's first half numbers this year are actually much better than they were in 2010 when he won his first Cy Young. With Masahiro Tanaka's injury, all he needs is a fairly consistent second half and the award should be his. Hernandez has a first half W-L PCT of .614 and an ERA of 3.03 in his career. For the second half in his career, his W-L PCT is .537 with a 3.23 ERA.
1st SP S. Kazmir (OAK)
2nd SP G. Richards (LAA)
C: Salvador Perez (KCR)
1B: Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)
2B: Robinson Cano (SEA)
3B: Adrian Beltre (TEX)
SS: Erick Aybar (LAA)
OF: Michael Brantley (CLE)
OF: Nelson Cruz (BAL)
OF: Mike Trout (LAA)
DH: Victor Martinez (DET)
Victor Martinez has better ratio numbers (.328/.391/.599) than Nelson Cruz (.287/.353/.570), but Cruz has substantially better counting numbers. 203 TB, 28 HRs and 74 RBI vs. Martinez's 181 TB, 21 HRs and 55 RBI. With Chris Davis' terrible first half in Baltimore, Cruz has picked up his slack and is a large reason the Orioles are atop the AL East.
1st DH V. Martinez (DET)
2nd: 1B J. Abreu (LAA)
Jose Abreu has been destroying the ball as a 27-year-old rookie. Whatever skeptics he had entering the season have since been silenced. Despite missing 15 days on the DL in late May, he leads MLB in HRs (29), SLG (.630) and is 3rd in RBI (73) while hitting a very healthy .292. His 2014 million salary seems like a bargain right now.
1st OF G. Springer (HOU)
2nd 3B N. Castellanos (DET)
For all but one season in 2009, it seems Mark Teixeira has struggled since joining the Yankees. Constantly banged up after signing with New York, he was a .290 hitter across six seasons before. Since donning pin stripes, he's hit .235 over six seasons. Last year was an absolute mess, as Teixeira hit .151, ultimately playing in only 15 games due to a severe wrist injury. His current .241-39-17-48-1 line is a nice rebound.
A case could be made for others, but the closer role in Baltimore was a mess until the former starter took it over, and has absolutely owned it. Zach Britton is 15-for-17 in save opportunities, and those saves have translated into wins for the first place Orioles. His 1.30 ERA, 3-1 record and BAA of .184 across 48.1 IP are also great takeaways.
1st RHP F. Rodney (SEA)
2nd RHP K. Uehara (BOS)
Credit to the front office and Billy Beane, as well. What the organization has done to overcome early season rotation injuries and the 22nd highest payroll salary in MLB is tremendous. The trade for Samardzija and Hammel was great, but even before it, Bob Melvin had the A's as the best team in baseball. They are 1st in all MLB in RDIFF (a ridiculous +145), team ERA (3.09) and WPCT (.621), with a 59-36 record.
Lloyd McClendon (SEA)
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