Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Trifone: A.L. Mid-season Award Winners

Yesterday, we named the National League mid-season award winners -- MVP and Cy Young.  (If you missed it, click here.)

Today, it's the A.L.'s turn.

Mid-season American League Most Valuable Player

Joey Bats is tied for the MLB lead in home runs with 27 and Adam Dunn is a virtual lock for comeback player of the year, with his 25 home run and 61 RBIs year so far.

One guy who is looking more and more like the rookie of the year AND MVP is Mike Trout, who in his first season is leading the league with a .341 average.  Bryce Harper has gotten a lot of hype, and is certainly having a great year, but Trout has been even better.

None of these guys have had a first half like Josh Hamilton.

Hamilton had a few week period that may have been the most incredible stretch in baseball history, including a four-homer game, which was the highlight of the first half of the 2012 season.  Early on, it looked as though Hamilton would challenge for the triple crown, although at this point, his average has dipped a bit.  He is hitting .308, is tied for the league lead with 27 home runs and leads the league in RBIs with 75, and is one of only two players with OPS above 1.000.

Mike Trout would actually be my number two, who has 26 stolen bases to go along with his league-leading average, and his emergence is a huge reason why the Angels have gotten back into it.

Still, even his numbers pale in comparison to Hamilton's, who is the pretty clear choice for mid-season AL MVP.

Mid-season American League Cy Young Winner

The mid-season AL Cy Young winner is the toughest award to give out, and the one that is the most debatable.  There are several good candidates, and it's a good thing there is a second half of the season to be played before we have to actually hand out the award.

By my judgement, coming in at number three for the award is Justin Verlander.  Typically, he's the guy you'd see at the top of the list.  Verlander is having a good, but not great year by his standards.  His 2.58 ERA is good enough for fourth in the league, he is tied for the league lead in strikeouts with 128, leads the league in complete games with five, and has a 9-5 record.  It's tough being Justin Verlander.  He puts up those great numbers, and somehow, we expect a little more.

My number two choice for the mid-season award is Jered Weaver, who is 8-1 with a 1.96 ERA, which leads the league.  Weaver has a sub 1.00 WHIP and is holding opponents to an average of under .200.  Weaver, like Verlander, has become a fixture among the top pitchers in the game, and seems to be a perennial contender to win the Cy Young.

That leaves only White Sox second year starter Chris Sale as my choice for the mid-season AL Cy Young award winner.  Sale is second in the league with an ERA of 2.27 and has 98 K's in 102.2 innings.  He also has a sub 1.00 WHIP and has opponents hitting under .200 for the year against him.  The White Sox are leading the AL Central, a division that everyone had yielded to the Tigers at the beginning of the year, and clearly, Sale and his 10-2 record are a big reason why.

I feel this race is the most subject to change, and by the end of the season, I'm not sure we won't see Verlander come back and win his second consecutive Cy Young.  However, midway through, Sale has the best numbers and currently deserves the award.

[Editor's note: This post is by John Trifone (@JohnnyT0122), who also contributes at our NFL site: Eat, Drink and Sleep Football (see John's archives).]

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Trifone: N.L. Mid-season Award Winners

With the mid-summer classic tonight, it's a good time to hand out mid-season MVP and Cy Young award winners.  There are usually a handful of great options, leaving room for debate, and this year is no exception.

Mid-season National League Most Valuable Player

For NL MVP, I believe it to be a four-horse race.  Although guys like David Wright and Melky Cabrera are having excellent years, they fall a bit short when comparing them with the top contenders.

Losing Albert Pujols is clearly going to hurt a team, but Carlos Beltran has stepped up in a big way, hitting over .300 and yielding great power numbers, for the Cardinals.  He currently leads the NL in RBI's with 65 and is second in home runs with 20.

There was a lot of talk at the beginning of the year over what type of year Ryan Braun would have after his failed drug test was overturned due to a technicality in the offseason.  Braun has responded with a league-leading 24 home runs.  He also ranks second in RBIs with 61 and is hitting over .300, with 15 stolen bases to boot.

Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez ranks sixth in the league in home runs and RBIs and leads the league in runs.  He is also currently hitting an impressive .330, and with 11 stolen bases.  I believe Cargo is the most likely to finish the year strong, playing in a hitter's ballpark in Colorado.

At this point, I feel any of these three are great candidates.

As good as those three have been, however, Andrew McCutchen has been even better.  McCutchen is leading the majors with a remarkable .362 average at the midway point.  He is hitting for power with 18 home runs and 60 RBIs, but also is a threat to run, with 14 stolen bases.  If he keeps this up for the rest of the year, McCutchen could finish the season hitting .350 with 30 hrs, 100 RBIs, and 30 stolen bases.  Tough to argue with those numbers.  I'm not sure if he can keep it up, but to date he is the NL MVP.

[Matt Kemp was the clear front runner before his injury, and certainly deserves recognition for how he was playing, but because of the number of games he has missed, I chose not to throw him in the mix, even though his early pace had him way ahead of the pack.]

Mid-season National League Cy Young Winner

The mid-season NL Cy Young race was looking interesting for a while.  For a few weeks, I thought for sure it would be Cole Hamels, who had a great ERA and won seven consecutive starts after losing his first to start the year.  Then Gio Gonzalez kept winning, Brian Beachy looked great, and Matt Cain threw a perfect game.  Stephen Strasburg is becoming the phenom we all knew he would be.

And then there's R.A. Dickey.  What Dickey has done this year has been nothing short of incredible.

The guy threw consecutive one-hitters, has an ERA of 2.40, a WHIP of just 0.93, is second in the league in strikeouts with 123, has his opponents hitting .203 for the season, and by the way is 12-1.  Dickey has never been a great pitcher, but at 37, he seems to have found whatever he was lacking earlier in his career.  The knuckleballer is hands down the mid-season NL Cy Young award winner.

I'd say that Strasburg could challenge him for the award by year's end if not for his innings count.  My number two right now would Matt Cain, who at 9-3 with a 2.62 ERA and 118 K's is having a great season in his own right.  I think Cain could make it interesting by the end of the year, but at the break, Dickey is the clear choice for the mid-season Cy Young.

Tomorrow we will post my A.L. (mid-season) award winners.

[Editor's note: This post is by John Trifone (@JohnnyT0122), who also contributes at our NFL site: Eat, Drink and Sleep Football (see John's archives).]