By SEAN CLAIR
With the first half of the Major League Baseball season over, it’s time to hand out some awards. There are plenty of players and managers in both leagues who deserve some hardware, but unfortunately only one man can walk away with the award. We’ll take a look at the players who, in my opinion, should receive the MVP, CY Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year.
MVP: Andrew McCutchen (PIT)
McCutchen is by far having his best season as a pro now in his fourth year. He is hitting .362 with 18 HR and 60 RBI. Those stats rank 1st, T-4th, and T-3rd in the National League. His .414 OBP and .625 SLG percentage also have him 3rd and 1st in the NL. He is also putting up all these numbers for the first place Pittsburgh Pirates. YES, folks, you are reading that right, the FIRST place Pirates. This is the first time the Pirates are leading their division at the All Star break since 1997. Much of that success can be attributed to McCutchen’s stellar play. We’ll see if he can keep up this blistering pace, as he’s never hit more than .286 in a season.
In the hunt: Carlos Beltran (STL), Carlos Gonzalez (COL), David Wright (NYM), and Joey Votto (CIN)
CY Young: Gio Gonzalez (WSH)
Gonzalez is putting up great numbers in his first season in Washington for the first place Nationals. He has posted a record of 12-3 with a 2.92 ERA and 118 strikeouts. Washington wanted to bolster there staff in the offseason, and they did so by adding one of the best young pitchers in the game. With a less than stellar Oakland Athletic team, Gonzalez was able to post a 31-21 record and 3.18 ERA the previous two seasons. For the Nationals to continue to lead the NL East, Gonzalez must keep up his hot start, as Strasburg is on a strict innings limit in his first season back from Tommy John surgery.
In the hunt: Matt Cain (SFO), R.A. Dickey (NYM), and James McDonald (PIT)
Rookie of the Year: Bryce Harper (WSH)
Bryce Harper has made a big impact, since making his debut for Washington earlier this season. He is hitting .282 with 8 HR and 25 RBI. What is even more impress is his 43 runs. The biggest thing people notice about Harper, however, is the way he plays the game. There may not be another player in the league who goes as hard on every single play than Harper. His best example of this may have been his stealing of home base. I’m sure we can expect great things from Harper for years to come.
In the hunt: Wade Miley (ARI)
Manager of the Year: Clint Hurdle (PIT)
This may be the one award where there is a clear-cut winner. Clint Hurdle has changed the culture in Pittsburgh, and this team may have what it takes to finally win the division. Hurdle doesn’t have a great all time managing record (under .500) but he did take the Colorado Rockies to the World Series in 2007, which was a big surprise. This Pirates team may turn out to be this year’s 2007 Rockies and ride their momentum to more than just a post-season birth.
In the Hunt: Davey Johnson (WSH) and Don Mattingly (LAD)
MVP: Josh Hamilton (TEX)
It’s hard to argue against Josh Hamilton. He is again putting up fantastic numbers for the Texas Rangers, and has his team in first place in the AL West. Hamilton is hitting .308 and leads the majors in HR’s with 27 and RBI’s with 75. He also has an incredible OPS of 1.016 which leads the AL. Hamilton got off to a fantastic start, but has cooled off as of late; his numbers are still at or near the top of the league, and he has his team poised to make another deep run in to the postseason. The big key for Hamilton will be his health down the stretch. He hasn’t played an injury free season since 2008. If he stays healthy expect him to remain in, and probably win the AL MVP.
In the hunt: Miguel Cabrera (DET), Robinson Cano (NYY), David Ortiz (BOS), Mark Trumbo (LAA), and Mike Trout (LAA)
CY Young: Jered Weaver (LAA)
Jered Weaver is repeating his first half of 2011 in 2012. Weaver is 10-1 with a 1.96 ERA for the Angels, and has helped bring the team back from a poor first month. It should really come as no surprise, since Weaver has been one of the best, and most consistent, pitchers in the majors for the past four years. He is very reliable, working deep into games, and is always near the top of the league in innings pitched. The Angels started off slow, but seem to have found themselves of late, and are a team to look out for come October, especially if Weaver continues to keep up his fantastic start.
In the hunt: Chris Sale (CHW), Justin Verlander (DET), and David Price (TB)
Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout (LAA)
This should come as no surprise. Not only is Mike Trout winning Rookie of the Year, he is in the thick of the Al MVP race. Since being called up to the majors in late April, Trout has hit .341 (first in the AL) with 12 HR with 46 RBI, 26 steals and 57 runs for the Angels. WOW! Talk about a pretty good start to your career. Trout was called up for a brief stint last season, but only hit .220 in 40 games. That must have taught him something because his numbers are off the charts this season. And what’s more impressive is that he completely ignited the Angels offense, which was anemic the first month before he arrived. If Trout builds upon his first half, he and the Angels are going to be in very good shape.
In the hunt: Yu Darvish (TEX), Will Middlebrooks (BOS), and Jarrod Parker (OAK)
Manager of the Year: Robin Ventura (CHW)
I don’t think anybody would have pegged this one at the beginning of the season. The AL Central was definitely going to be a down division this year, but I thoroughly believe everyone had the Tigers slotted as the clear cut favorites. Well, at the All-Star Break it turns out the Chicago White Sox are the team on top of the division, and many people are surprised, including myself. First year manager, Robin Ventura, has done a great job in balancing his team with a good mix of experienced veterans and young kids. He’s also managed to put a pitching staff together that has somehow managed to be decent, led by young gun Chris Sale. If Detroit continues to struggle and Ventura continues to work with what he’s got, the White Sox may just be able to pull some magic off in the AL Central.
In the hunt: Buck Showalter (BAL) and Joe Girardi (NYY)