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With the first half of the baseball season in the books, it’s time to take a look at which players went the extra mile and stood out amongst their peers. It’s time to give out superlatives to those who are deserving. We have four awards: Cy Young award (best pitcher), Most Valuable Player, Manager of the First Half and Rookie of the Year, for both the American and National Leagues.
American League Rookie of the Year: Adolis Garcia – CF, Texas Rangers
Despite a very hot start by Chicago White Sox designated hitter Yermin Mercedes, it’s clear how good Adolis Garcia has been. Leading all rookies in runs batted in with 62 and home runs with 22, Garcia has just terrorized pitching. Add to it that he’s sixth in batting average amongst rookies, and you have someone that’s been lethal in both power and in average.
National League Rookie of the Year: Jonathan India – 2B, Cincinnati Reds
Probably one of the most contested matches in these superlatives, there are several names that could win this award. Miami’s second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. leads in home runs but is outside the top five in average. Cincinnati’s catcher Tyler Stephenson has the highest batting average, but is eighth in home runs.
Then there’s India, who is the National League rookie RBI leader. He’s seventh on the home run list, but it’s because there’s a five-way tie for second place. India is also second in batting average. While Chisholm Jr. is a very good pick, India seems better balanced.
American League Manager of the First-Half: Alex Cora – Boston Red Sox
Do you remember when Boston finished last season with the fourth worst record in baseball? They had basically the same infield with the outfield mainly changing, many believing that it made the team worse. Many had Boston finishing amongst the worst teams.
Then they re-hired Alex Cora, and things seemingly changed. Now the team is amongst the top five in the league, and is leading the American League East. Tony La Russa has done a great job with the Chicago White Sox, however since they made the playoffs under Rick Renteria last year, it can be questioned if the team took next step because of him or because their young talent just developed.
National League Manager of the First-Half: Gabe Kapler – San Francisco Giants
The National League has three managers that are all deserving right now. Milwaukee Brewers’ skipper Craig Counsell has the team performing at a very high level again. New York Mets’ manager Luis Rojas has also done a good job taking the team from worst to first.
So why Kapler? Mainly because of the division he coaches in. In a division that has the two biggest threats to win the National League (Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres), he’s managed to have San Francisco ahead of them both. There’s no telling if that lead will last, but this isn’t the full manager of the year, but rather the manager of the first-half.
American League Cy Young Award: Lance Lynn – SP, Chicago White Sox
In the American League, there is only one pitcher with an earned run average under 2.00 and that’s the Chicago White Sox’ Lance Lynn. Lynn doesn’t have New York Yankees’ pitcher Gerrit Cole’s strikeouts or Cleveland’s Aaron Civale’s wins, but he does have the lowest ERA of those three. Simply put, when you only allow 20 earned runs, which is amongst the lowest of all starting pitchers with the amount of innings he’s thrown, than you get the nod.
National League Cy Young Award: Jacob deGrom – SP, New York Mets
Who else would it be? deGrom has an ERA of 1.08, which is unheard of in today’s day-and-age. His 7-2 record isn’t anywhere near indicative of his dominance this season. In addition to the lowest ERA in baseball, he has the most strikeouts in the National League (second in all baseball) and has the lowest allowed batting average in the league. He’s been that good, and there’s just no topping him this year.
American League Most Valuable Player: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – 1B, Toronto Blue Jays
Before people get up in arms about Guerrero Jr. getting the nod over Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher, outfielder and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, the question needs to be asked: who’s more valuable to their team?
Ohtani may be the better player, but does that make him more valuable? As a hitter, Ohtani as been one of the best in the game today, even leading baseball in home runs, but as a pitcher he’s been kind of average. In 13 starts, he’s 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA and 87 strike outs. Compared to other starters in the American League, the ERA isn’t bad, but 4-1 isn’t great and that strikeout total is low.
On the other hand, Guerrero Jr. is second in home runs to Ohtani, and leads all of baseball in RBI and batting average. It’s possible that Guerrero Jr. could finish as a Triple Crown winner if he keeps this pace up. What’s more important is that his team has a better chance of making the playoffs as a wild card team, just adding to his value. Simply put, Guerrero Jr. is more valuable to his team than Ohtani at this juncture.
National League Most Valuable Player: Fernando Tatis Jr. – SS, San Diego Padres
In the National League, another second generation player wins the MVP award, this time in San Diego. Tatis Jr. leads the National League in home runs and stolen bases. He’s also tied for fourth in RBI.
While deGrom may also have a case for MVP here, it’s hard for a pitcher to win the award. As such, you may have to hand it to Tatis for the first half of the year.