The “Early” MLB Awards
Another month of of the MLB season in the books! Means it’s time to knock another adjective off and dub this the “Early MLB Awards”. I waited til the All-Star break to reveal my awards. There was some movement compared to last month’s as we’ll have our third different player in three months leading for National League Cy Young. With the Olympics coming up in a few weeks, going to do this in medal fashion once again. Let’s get to the awards!
National League Rookie of the Year
Bronze Medal: Lance Lynn, Cardinals
A drop for Lynn in the rankings as he was in the top spot after both April and May. June was not kind to the Cardinals rookie as he went 2-3 with a 5.67 ERA to bring his ERA up to 3.41 on the season. Still solid numbers with the eleven wins on the year, but he’s been surpassed by the next two players.
Silver Medal: Bryce Harper, Nationals
Another month, another step up the ladder in the N.L. Rookie of the Year rankings for Harper. Harper was named the youngest position player All-Star in history replacing Giancarlo Stanton. He’s been as advertised for the Nationals hitting .282, with eight homers and ten stolen bases. Can he take one more step up the ladder in the 2nd half of the season?
Gold Medal: Wade Miley, Diamondbacks
Who’s holding back Bryce Harper from being Rookie of the Year? It’s not a clown question, bro. The answer is Wade Miley. Miley leads all National League rookies in ERA and is 2nd in wins behind Lance Lynn. Miley’s numbers are more impressive when you realize he’s pitching in hitter-friendly Chase Field. Will his season end up like 2011′s Ian Kennedy or Josh Collmenter? That’s the clown question that decides if he can hold off Harper for the top spot.
Just off the Podium: Andrelton Simmons, Braves, Norichika Aoki, Brewers, Wilin Rosario, Rockies, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mets
American League Rookie of the Year
Bronze Medal: Scott Diamond, Twins
This was a tough call for 3rd place, but I’m going to mix it up since last month and give the nod to Scott Diamond over Ryan Cook. Cook got the All-Star Game so we’ll call this even then. Diamond is 7-3, with a 2.62 ERA and has been a bright spot for a Twins team that has really struggled this season. Even more impressive has been Diamond’s control, just 1.4 BB/9 innings so far this season. He’s been a diamond in the in rough for Minnesota. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)
Silver Medal: Yu Darvish, Rangers
Just like in the National League, the leader for Rookie of the Year the first two months of the season has been knocked off at the midway point in the season. Darvish is 10-5 on the season with a 3.59 ERA. Those numbers are higher than his 3.21 ERA after May. Where Darvish is helped is by his tremendous strikeout numbers, he’s 4th in the American League with 117 and has 21 more punch outs than the next highest rookie in all of MLB. (Matt Moore)
Gold Medal: Mike Trout, Angels
There is no holding Mike Trout back any more. This is his award to lose and it’s not even close. Trout didn’t even play the first month of the season and leads the American League in stolen bases. Could we see him in this blog post again? Keep reading.
Just off the Podium: Ryan Cook, Athletics, Robbie Ross, Rangers, Jarrod Parker, Athletics, Addison Reed, White Sox, Yoenis Cespedes, Atheltics, and Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox
National League Cy Young
Bronze Medal: Johnny Cueto, Reds
There is incredibly deep pitching depth at National League starting pitcher this season that players like Cueto and James McDonald who have delivered for their teams don’t even make the All-Star team. Hopefully being 3rd in my rankings will make Cueto feel a little bit better. This easily could have gone to any one that I’ll list on “just off the podium”, but Cueto leads the N.L. in pitcher WAR along with R.A. Dickey. He’s 4th in ERA while throwing the 2nd most innings so far this year, just .1 IP behind Clayton Kershaw. Cueto does lead in adjusted ERA, when you factor in he pitches in Great American Ballpark.
Silver Medal: Matt Cain, Giants
The Giants are looking like geniuses after signing Cain to an extension at the start of this season. Cain is 9-3 with a 2.62 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP, while again throwing the same amount of innings (120.1) as Johnny Cueto. I have no qualms with him getting to start the All-Star Game for the National League as he has been magnificent. Cain is 2nd in innings, WHIP, complete games, 4th in strikeouts and leads in shutouts and K/BB ratio. Plus, I haven’t even mentioned the perfect game he pitched on June 14th, the first in Giants history. How isn’t he #1 in the Cy Young rankings then?
Gold Medal: R.A. Dickey, Mets
R.A. Dickey, that’s how. What’s more impressive that a perfect game? Back-to-back one-hitters is. There have been twenty-two perfect games in MLB history, but only seven occurrences of back-to-back one-hitters, the last by Dave Stieb in 1988. Dickey leads the senior circuit in wins, WHIP, pitcher WAR, complete games, and shutouts. He’s also 2nd in strikeouts, while maintaining a nifty 2.40 ERA. Not bad for a 37 year-old knuckleballer.
Just off the Podium: Gio Gonzalez, Nationals, James McDonald, Pirates, Zack Greinke, Brewers, Cole Hamels, Phillies, Ryan Vogelsong, Giants, Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, Kyle Lohse, Cardinals, Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals and Craig Kimbrel, Braves
American League Cy Young
Bronze Medal: Chris Sale, White Sox
Sale stays in the bronze medal position for now. You can make a case he should be #2 or even #1 as he is 2nd in the American League in ERA (2.19), pitching WAR (4.2), plus 3rd in wins (10) and WHIP (0.96). It will be a huge 2nd half story line for the White Sox as Sale already has pitched about innings this season (102.1) as he had in 2010 and 2011 combined (104.2).
Silver Medal: Jered Weaver, Angels
Weaver has been an absolute dream for Angels fans in 2012. He leads the A.L. in ERA (1.96) and WHIP (0.90), while having a 10-1 record for the Halos. Just mind-boggling numbers in the much better hitting American League. There’s only one thing holding me back from putting him in the top spot at this juncture. The three weeks he missed at the end of May/start of June with back spasms. Luckily for Weaver he has the entire 2nd half to chase down the pitcher in the top spot. If he stays healthy, I have a feeling he will.
Gold Medal: Justin Verlander, Tigers
If you want to be the American League Cy Young Award, you have to knock the king from his throne. Verlander’s peripheral numbers aren’t as good as Weaver’s, with a 2.58 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. However, factor in that Verlander has pitched 35 more innings than Weaver, you can’t argue who has been more valuable to their team at this juncture of the season. Verlander leads the A.L. in strikeouts (128), innings pitched (132.2), complete games (5) and pitcher WAR (4.3). They should just rename him Justin Bullpensaver.
Just off the Podium: David Price, Fernando Rodney, Rays, Jim Johnson, Orioles, Jake Peavy, White Sox, Matt Harrison, Rangers, C.J. Wilson, Angels, Felix Hernandez, Mariners, and Ernesto Frieri, Angels
National League M.V.P.
Bronze Medal: David Wright, Mets
The man who should be starting at third base for the National League (thanks again, Giants fans). Wright leads the N.L. in WAR, while being in the top 5 in batting average (.351), on-base percentage (.441), OPS (1.004), and doubles (27). He’s also 5th in runs batted in with 59. He’s come through time after time for the surprising Mets. Here’s just one example.
Silver Medal: Joey Votto, Reds
When I put Joey Votto in the top spot last month I thought I wouldn’t remove him from that top spot for the rest of this season. Here we are just a short month later and Votto is dropped to number two. It’s not Votto’s fault, he’s still been fantastic, leading the National League in on-base percentage (.471!), OPS (1.087), doubles (35), and is hitting a robust .348 (only good enough for 5th). The difference in value between Votto and the player I have in the gold medal position is Votto’s teams is in second place, while this next player sits atop his division’s standings.
Gold Medal: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
Has there been a better player since June 1st than Andrew McCutchen? The numbers say no. He’s hit .401, with 30 runs, 35 runs batted in, and 10 home runs in 137 at-bats. Even more importantly, the Pirates are 23-11 in that span, and have taken over 1st place in the N.L. Central. McCutchen leads the National League in batting average (.362), offensive WAR (4.9), total bases (193) and slugging (.625). He is top 3 in OPS, hits, runs, AND RBI. McCutchen has blossomed and could lead the Buccos to their first winning season and playoff appearance since 1992.
Just off the Podium: Ryan Braun, Brewers, Michael Bourn, Braves, Carlos Ruiz, Phillies, Melky Cabrera, Giants, Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, Carlos Beltran, Cardinals, R.A. Dickey, Mets
American League M.V.P.
Bronze Medal: Robinson Cano, Yankees
The Yankees have the best record in baseball, so there has to be someone from that team in the top 3. None have been better than Robinson Cano. He leads the American league in total bases and is top eight in offensive WAR, OPS, batting average, slugging, OPS, runs, hits, doubles, and home runs. All the while playing a Gold Glove-caliber second base. He’s evolved into the next great Yankee.
Silver Medal: Josh Hamilton, Rangers
Similar to Joey Votto, I thought Hamilton was going to go wire-to-wire in taking home his 2nd A.L. M.V.P. award. Not so fast. Since June 1st, Hamilton is hitting just .217 and has struck out 37 times in 117 at-bats and opened the door for someone to pass him. Hamilton’s season numbers are still great as he leads the A.L. in slugging, OPS, and home runs for a team that is in 1st place.
Gold Medal: Mike Trout, Angels
Trout was called up April 28th, essentially missing the first month of the season. The Angels record was 6-14, they were falling quickly behind the surging Texas Rangers. Since then, the Angels are 42-24, the best record in baseball in that span. Trout has been the reason why. He’s been amazing on the basepaths leading the A.L. in stolen bases with 26. He’s hitting .341. He’s 6th in the A.L. in runs scored with 57 in 64 games. He’s top six in OBP, slugging, and OPS. He leads the American League in offensive WAR at 3.8. Now imagine those numbers if he had played in the first 20 games of the season! He’s played a superb center field and has the defensive play of the season.
He’s probably been the best player in the league, but there’s no doubt to me that he’s been the most valuable.
Just off the Podium: Paul Konerko, White Sox, Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, David Ortiz, Red Sox, Jose Bautista, Blue Jays, and Adam Jones, Orioles
There they are. My midseason picks for the MLB awards. Quick hit picks on the Managers of the Year. I would take Clint Hurdle over Davey Johnson and Terry Collins in the N.L. and Buck Showalter over Robin Ventura, Ron Washington, and Joe Girardi in the A.L. Let me know who you should be in line for some hardware at this point in the MLB season.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)