It’s mid-July and that means we’re midway through the baseball season. Josh Danzig, Jesse Elgarten and I are knee deep in our Major League Baseball predictions battle, but we decided to temporarily set aside our grudges to put together a brief summary of our mid-season awards.
We have elected not to do a Rookie of the Year section since it will take a meteor to prevent Bryce Harper and Mike Trout from winning the award from their respective leagues.
Andrew McCutchen is one of the best all-around forces in the game.
NATIONAL LEAGUE MVP:
Jared Says: Joey Votto
Andrew McCutchen is the sexy pick right now and it’s merited, especially since he started hitting for power in early May. But I think that Joey Votto still has the advantage because of how much more respect he gets from opposing pitchers. Votto has drawn 15 more walks than anyone else in the MVP discussion and the fear that he strikes into opposing pitchers has resulted in him having a considerably higher on-base percentage than McCutchen and anyone else in baseball, for that matter. McCutchen is awesome to watch, but Votto is at a different level because pitchers are afraid of him.
Jesse Says: Andrew McCutchen
One of the best all-around forces in the game, he actually has the Pirates in first place in the NL Central with absolutely no help at all. You can say Neil Walker is an OK player and Pedro Alvarez has a little pop, but without Cutch, the Pirates are wishing they were the Cubs.
Josh Says: Andrew McCutchen
The Pirates centerfielder truly is a five-tool player. He is top-five in average, runs, home runs and RBI. Votto is a close second and we have to show some love to David Wright who is having a tremendous season, but I’ll take McCutchen because of his all-around game.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CY YOUNG:
Jared Says: R.A. Dickey
I’ll let you all in on a secret. The three people involved with putting this column together are all New Yorkers and two of us are Mets fans. You might as well have titled this the “Talk About R.A. Dickey” segment of the column. He’s the talk of the town, he’s the best story in sports and he has been dominant through the first half of the season.
Jesse Says: R.A. Dickey
He’s the only pitcher in the league right now in the top five in all of the following categories: K/BB ratio, BAA, WHIP, ERA and wins. When you dominate all-around like that, you win an award.
Josh Says: R.A. Dickey
Robert. Allen. Dickey. See Mr. Elgarten’s defense as a reference. Also, as a 37 year-old knuckler, he could be the most improbable Triple Crown winning pitcher of all time.
NATIONAL LEAGUE MANAGER OF THE YEAR:
Jared Says: Davey Johnson
It’s hard to say this without sounding cynical, but I just feel like the Nationals aren’t supposed to be good, ever. This is a team that has finally figured out how to get the best out of their young players and after taking a chance and bringing Bryce Harper up early, the Nationals have a great shot at making the playoffs. Davey Johnson deserves a ton of credit for the work he’s put in with Washington’s young talent.
Jesse Says: Davey Johnson
Probably older than some of his players’ grandfathers, Johnson took a young, up-and-coming Nationals team that was expected to do nothing more than take strides and finish within two or three games of .500 and led them to the best record in the National League.
Josh Says: Clint Hurdle
A few years ago, I wanted the Mets to hire Clint Hurdle. I am by no means upset with Terry Collins, but Hurdle is doing what I thought he could do in Flushing in Pittsburgh. For the first time in decades, baseball is front and center in the Steel City. Pittsburgh hasn’t made the playoffs since their last winning season in 1992, but this season could end that streak.
NATIONAL LEAGUE COMEBACK OF THE YEAR:
Jared Says: A.J. Burnett
For as long as I can remember, Pittsburgh has been the place where MLB veterans went to die. But a change of scenery hasn’t just turned A.J. Burnett around. It’s turned the entire Pirates organization around. Burnett is unquestionably the veteran leader of a team that desperately needed leadership. He’s livened up the clubhouse, he’s become the ace of the Pirates’ rotation and he’s pitching better than he ever did as a Yankee.
Jesse Says: Jason Heyward
Last season, Heyward re-defined “sophomore slump.” Injuries and ineffectiveness kept him out of 34 games in 2011 and he finished hitting .227 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI. This season, Heyward has rebounded to hit .272 with 14 home runs and 45 RBI already. His OPS is 129 points higher than it was in 2011.
If Trout keeps it up all year, give him the MVP award.
Josh Says: Johan “Tito” Santana
A year away from the game, with mixed long term outlook upon his return, Santana has been sensational. Oh, and then there’s the first no-hitter in Mets franchise history on June 1st in the team's 8,020th game.
NATIONAL LEAGUE SURPRISE OF THE YEAR:
Jared Says: The Washington Nationals
We as sports fans have gotten comfortable saying “not until next year” every year with the Nationals. But under the leadership of Davey Johnson and behind the most dominant starting rotation in baseball, the Nationals look like they could be the modern equivalent of the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays.
Jesse Says: Melky Cabrera
He was statistically one of the worst offensive players in all of baseball in 2010. Just miserable. The Braves waived him and the Royals picked him up in 2011 for nothing but outfield depth. He surprised some and put up what seemed to be his ceiling numbers. Then, he was traded to the Giants, where he has become an outside contender for the MVP. It is shocking how good he has become after how far down he was only two years ago.
Josh Says: No-Hit Mania
Instead of doing NL/AL surprises, I am going to combine them into one. So far the biggest surprise has been five no-hitters, including two perfectos. From 2000-2009, there were 15 no-hitters thrown, two of those perfect games. In the past three seasons, we have witnessed 14 no-hitters and four have not seen one player reach first. The numbers are astounding.
AMERICAN LEAGUE MVP:
Jared Says: Miguel Cabrera
The MVP award is supposed to go to the best all-around player. So, if Trout keeps it up all year, give him the MVP award. In fact, give him five of them. But if not, I’d go with Miguel Cabrera, who has more hits than anyone in the majors, to go along with a higher on-base percentage, a considerably higher batting average and 30 less strikeouts than Josh Hamilton.
Jesse Says: Mike Trout
It’s silly what he’s done. Due to starting the year in the minors, he’s played the fewest games among qualified players. Yet he’s sixth in runs scored (only six behind the leader, David Ortiz), has the best average in the AL, the fourth best OPS, leads the league in stolen bases with 26 and has only been caught stealing three times. He plays astounding defense and his call-up seemed to coincide nicely with the Angels turnaround. After a miserable start, they now find themselves in one of the wild card spots.
Josh Says: Josh Hamilton
While I respect Mike Trout for what he’s done to start his major league baseball career, the current AL MVP is Josh Hamilton. 25/75/.309 AVG is my supporting argument.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG:
Jared Says: Jered Weaver
I wanted to go with Chris Sale really badly, if only for the sake of giving our readers a different name. But to me, what sets Weaver apart isn’t his game as much as it is the way he plays it. Weaver is one of the most intense figures in all of baseball and he plays the game with a tremendous amount of emotion, which is usually taboo for a pitcher. He’s a ton of fun to watch and he would really have 14 wins by now if the Angels didn’t spend the first quarter of the season sleeping at the plate.
Weaver is one of the most intense figures in all of baseball.
Jesse Says: Jered Weaver
He’s got he lowest ERA, lowest WHIP and lowest BAA and he’s 10-1 on a team that couldn’t buy a run in April.
Josh Says: Jered Weaver
If you thought it should be someone else you should be ashamed of yourself. Weaver is 10-1 with a 1.96 ERA. Those are videogame stats. Keep in mind he missed two weeks for a minor injury, so in 15 starts he has 10 wins. His only flaw seems to be his road game. In Anaheim, or Los Angeles of Anaheim,(#worstnameever) Weaver has a 6-0 record with a svelte .58 ERA. Jeff’s younger brother is 4-1 with a 3.24 ERA on the road, including his worst start of the year against Texas giving up 8 runs on 10 hits in only 3 innings. As long as the offense puts up numbers, it’s Weaver’s award to lose.
AMERICAN LEAGUE MANAGER OF THE YEAR:
Jared Says: Robin Ventura
Ugh, again with the repetition. But sometimes, great minds think alike (except for Josh, he only though this way by accident). This one is pretty simple. If you thought the White Sox would be in first place in mid-July behind one of the most potent batting orders in baseball, raise your hand. Good. That makes none of you.
I thought that this team was going to explode, but it turns out they only looked that way because they were playing for Ozzie Guillen. Robin Ventura, as a rookie manager, has been incredible.
Jesse Says: Robin Ventura
AL Manager – Robin Ventura. A first year manager, Ventura’s White Sox lead the Central division without having any fanfare at all before the season. Yours truly had them fighting to stay out of a distant fourth place before the season began.
Josh Says: Robin Ventura
Robin Ventura. It’s only the break but he has the Chi-sox in first place with no managerial experience.
AMERICAN LEAGUE COMEBACK OF THE YEAR:
Jared Says: Mark Trumbo
Bear with me for the explanation.
We all knew Trumbo was going to be good, so this comeback doesn’t describe anything he went through last season. It instead describes the hell that Mike Scioscia put Trumbo through in April. Scioscia tried to make Trumbo learn how to play third base in order to accommodate both the returning Kendrys Morales and the incoming Albert Pujols. Trumbo committed a handful of errors, but was still great at the plate. So, Scoscia did what any great manager would do - he benched Trumbo.
Then a light went off, and Scioscia put Trumbo in the outfield. 23 home runs, 60 RBI and a .305 batting average later, everyone lived happily ever after.
Jesse Says: Austin Jackson
Jackson put up an uninspiring slash line of .249/.317/.374 in 2011, with only 10 home runs and 45 RBI. Already this season, he’s got nine home runs, 38 RBI and his slash line is .332/.408/.545. That’s a 263-point increase in OPS. Amazing turnaround.
Josh Says: Adam Dunn
The Big Donkey had about as horrible a 2011 season as you could have. His numbers resembled my friend Mr. Elgarten’s intramural softball career. He already has more RBI this season than all of last, and 14 more long balls to boot. He’s part of the reason why Robin Ventura is your AL manager of the year.
AMERICAN LEAGUE SURPRISE OF THE YEAR:
Jared Says: Boston’s Breakdown
I knew this team was going to have problems to start the year, I even said it in my prediction column. But for a team to be .500 with that much talent, something has to be really wrong. I’m wondering if there really is a lot of ego in the clubhouse, because I don’t think this is Valentine’s problem. Nonetheless, it’s still a problem; and at 10.5 games back, there isn’t much time left to figure it out.
Jesse Says: Detroit Tigers
They were supposed to win 100 games and finish with a 15-game division lead. I have no idea how to explain it.
Josh Says: No-Hit Mania
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