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).]