Midseason MLB Awards
1. Mike Trout, Angels
What’s scary is that this might be Trout’s best season. He’s on pace for a career-high in home runs, RBI, and walks while his best slugging percentage and OPS of his career. He’s on pace yet again for a double-digit WAR. He is unquestionably the best player in baseball and should take home his third MVP trophy.
2. Rafael Devers, Red Sox
Rafael Devers has always had light-tower power and a cannon for an arm but struggled within first two seasons with his plate discipline and sloppy errors. He’s put it all together this year. He is top five in the league in batting average, slugging, runs, hits, total bases, and doubles. He is still committing his fair share of errors, but all the defensive metrics have him grading out favorably. There is no denying the impact he has had on the Red Sox this year, emerging as their best hitter with J.D Martinez and Mookie Betts taking steps back from last year, and he will be breathing down Trout’s neck for the MVP all summer long.
3. D.J Lemahieu, Yankees
Lemahieu has always been a great hitter, but it came with an asterisk as he did it in Coors field. While still in a hitter-friendly ballpark, the Yankees’ second baseman has shown he can rake at any field. He leads the A.L in batting average and is already approaching a career-high in home runs. He has been invaluable to an injury-depleted Yankees team and is a big reason why they come into the break with a huge lead in the AL East.
1. Cody Bellinger, Dodgers
One of the biggest stories of the first half is the compition between Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich for NL MVP. Though both have been fantastic, the edge clearly goes to Bellinger. He leads the NL in runs, total bases and OPS+ while placing second in average, on base percentage and RBI. His defense is almost equally impressive, as he’s second in the NL in defensive WAR. That’s a big reason why his WAR is 1.7 higher than that of Yelich and why he is ahead in the MVP race.
2. Chrisitan Yelich, Brewers
Yelich has picked up right where he left in his 2018 MVP season. He basically leads the NL in every category Bellinger doesn’t, including home runs, on-base percentage, slugging, and OPS. He’s also a threat when he gets on the bases, stealing 19 bases in 21 opportunities. A line-drive hitter throughout his career in Miami, he has learned to elevate the ball in Milwaukee and developed into one of the most feared sluggers in the game.
3. Nolan Arenado, Rockies
Arenado has never won MVP, and he likely won’t win it this year. Still, he has finished in the top five three straight years and is having another terrific season. He’s hitting .312 with 20 home runs and 67 RBI. Other guys have similar or even better offensive years, but what sets Arenado apart from the one-dimensional sluggers like Josh Bell and Peter Alonso from those guys in his defense. For the seventh straight year, he leads the NL in range factor, and the previous six years he won a gold glove.
A.L Cy Young
1. Justin Verlander, Astros
Verlander is the epitome of the modern pitcher. He leads the majors with 26 home runs allowed, but because he is impossible to string hits together off (he leads AL with 5.4 hits allowed per nine), he has an ERA under three. Though his walks are up and strikeouts are down, he leads the AL in WHIP. He still works deep into games and, despite all the home runs, continues to get better as he ages.
2. Charlie Morton, Rays
Morton is one of the best stories in baseball. He was a journeyman, back-of-the-rotation starter throughout his 20’s before landing in Houston and ganing velocity and command. He now has made two straight All-Star appearences, and was rewarded with a multi-year contract from the Rays after the first one. He has taken an even bigger step this year, leading the AL with a 2.32 ERA. He’s not just preventing runs but doing so in dominant fashion, as he’s currently fifth in the AL in both strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings. With so many of the Rays top pitchers going down with injuries, Morton has been invaluable for them in keeping them in the wild card race.
3. Lucas Giolito, White Sox
Giolito is another great story. A former top pick and prospect, he has had to reinvent himself after a number of injuries cost him his elite velocity. He had the worst ERA in the league last year and spent the offseason reinventing his delivery and going with a short-armed approach. It has paid huge dividends this year. He has a sparkling 11-3 record and is top ten in the league in strikeouts and ERA. He is very difficult to string hits against, evidenced by his 6.2 hits per nine innings, second in the AL. With no one single dominant pitcher in the American League, Giolito has as good a chance as any to take home the Cy Young if he can finish strong.
N.L Cy Young
1. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers
Nothing about Ryu makes sense. A portly, 255-pound left-hander who barely touches 90 MPH should not be able to dominate baseball like this. But here we are. In 32 starts over the past two years, Ryu has an ERA well under two, including a league leading 1.73 mark this year. The key to Ryu’s success is his impeccable control. He has walked just ten men all year, and his 9.90 strikeout K/BB ratio is easily the best in baseball. Ryu was rewarded for his great first half with a start in the All-Star game, and if he keeps it up in the second half, he will be rewarded with the Cy Young.
2. Max Scherzer, Nationals
Overshadowed by Ryu’s otherworldly start, Max Scherzer is having a typical Max Scherzer season. He actually has the best ERA of his career at 2.30, and is leading the NL in strikeouts for the fourth straight season. Even at age 34, Scherzer continues to work deeper into games than anybody, as he leads the NL with 129.1 innings pitched. A combination of Ryu’s dominance and voter fatigue may keep Scherzer for winning his fourth Cy Young, but his greatness should not be overlooked.
3. Luis Castillo, Reds
Along with Walker Buehler, Luis Castillo is one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball. Castillo is second in the NL with a 2.29 ERA and top ten in strikeouts. He also leads the NL with just 5.26 hits allowed, which is a testament to his electric stuff, including an upper 90’s fastball and one of the best changeups in all of baseball. Castillo doesn’t prevent runs like Ryu or dominate like Scherzer, but he is still having a fine season
A.L Rookie of the Year
1. Brandon Lowe, Rays
Lowe didn’t have the fanfare of Vlad Jr. or Eloy Jimenez entering the season, but he has come in and outperformed both of them. He’s hit .276 and 16 home runs and was the only A.L rookie to make the All-Star team. Lowe isn’t flashy or showy, he is just a really solid baseball player.
2. Michael Chavis, Red Sox
The Ice Horse has cooled off after a red-hot start, but he’s still been solid in his rookie campaign with the Red Sox. He has hit 15 home runs along with 48 RBI, all while posting an above-average OPS+. His approach at the plate (25 BB/ 100 strikeouts) still needs some work, but Chavis has shown real promise so far.
3. Eloy Jimenez, White Sox
Eloy came into the season with a lot of hype, stemming from legendary power numbers in the minor leagues. He hasn’t quite lived up to the unreasonable expectations, but he still has shown flashes of greatness. He’s tied with Lowe for the A.L rookie lead in home runs with 16, a pace that would equate to 41 over a full season. Jimenez is a key candidate to get hot in the second half as he adjusts to major league pitching.
N.L Rookie of the Year
1. Pete Alonso, Mets
Alonso has been by far the best rookie in the majors this year and is the only one in contention for the MVP. He is second in the majors with 30 longballs and has an outstanding 168 OPS+. His at-bats have become must-watch T.V even on a dysfunctional Mets squad. Other N.L rookies have had good seasons as well, but nobody can come close to the polar bear.
2. Fernando Tatis, Padres
If not for a May injury, Tatis might be neck and neck with Alonso for this award. A centerpiece for one of the most exciting teams in all of baseball, Tatis is already one of the most exciting players in baseball. He can do everything on a baseball field, already in double figures in both homers and steals while playing fantastic defense. He also does things nobody has ever seen before, such as scoring from third on a pop to the infield twice. Tatis simply doesn’t have the at-bats to compete with Alonso right now, but the award will be his if he continues on this absurd pace.
3. Austin Riley, Braves
Riley burst on to the stage, hitting .356 with seven home runs in his first month in the majors to win NL rookie of the month for May. He has cooled off considerably since then as pitchers have adjusted to his lofty swing, but he has still put up respectable numbers. He’s hitting 16 home runs and has a solid .866 OPS despite hitting under .200 since his fantastic May. Riley has been a centerpiece for a Braves team that is one of the best in baseball and will be in the spotlight plenty in the months to come.
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