David Lennon's midseason awards -- and end-of-season predictions
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We know that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn't hand out Oscars in October, but this being the end of the season's first half -- officially, if not mathematically -- now is as good a time as any for us to get an early jump on the BBWAA awards.
With a few caveats, of course. We're just about at the century mark for most teams, but the final 10 weeks usually separate the true award contenders from the early pretenders -- just like with the teams themselves.
So here's how we'll handle the prizes at the All-Star break. First, with our pick for the midseason honor, then a prediction with who ends up with the award in November after the BBWAA ballots have been rounded up. Might be different, might not.
Anyway, the winners are:
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Now: Miguel Cabrera -- Not much imagination with this pick, we know. But it's hard to argue with success, and with the Tigers clinging to the top of the AL central, Cabrera again is a huge reason why. He's on pace for 50 homers and 160 RBIs, and is baseball's early WAR leader at 6.1. If Cabrera finishes, he'll be the AL's first back-to-back MVP since Frank Thomas (1993-94).
Later: Cabrera -- Tough to see him or the Tigers doing a nosedive over the next two months. But in case that does happen, and the Orioles stay in contention, Chris Davis (35 HRs, 1.092 OPS) might be chasing the MVP, as well as Roger Maris.
Now: Paul Goldschmidt -- With the NL West up for grabs, Goldschmidt has been responsible for keeping the free-spending Dodgers and surprising Rockies at arm's length from the first-place Diamondbacks. Also, Goldschmidt (77 RBIs, .962 OPS) doesn't get the thin-air benefit of Coors Field and has 21 of Arizona's 76 homers.
Later: Goldschmidt -- Carlos Gonzalez is a serious challenger (see aforementioned Coors) and also Andrew McCutchen. David Wright, owner of the NL's highest WAR (4.8), slightly better in first half (.901 OPS) than second (.875).
Now: Max Scherzer -- Instant disclaimer: Being 2013 and all, we know we're supposed to remove pitcher wins from the equation. But starting the season 13-0 is difficult to ignore completely, and it goes nicely with a 10.63 K/9 rate and a respectable 3.06 ERA, even if the latter ranks only ninth in the AL. Since we're only talking first half here, we'll throw Scherzer a bone.
Later: Felix Hernandez -- Yep, it's looking like a King Felix year again, whose 9-4 record despite a league-leading 2.69 ERA shows that he doesn't have the Tigers hitting behind him. He continues to devour innings (1302/3), which could lead to fatigue. But Hernandez might actually improve in the second half as opponents' .314 batting average on balls in play shows that he's been one of the unluckier good pitchers. The AL-low BABIP of .231 belongs to his teammate, Hisashi Iwakuma.
Now: Matt Harvey -- Piling up strikeouts (NL-best 10.18 K/9) and being stingy with walks (NL-low 1.94 BB/9) is a nice combination, along with a 2.35 ERA that incredibly is tied for fourth with Patrick Corbin. Plus, everybody likes the heat (95-plus average fastball velocity) and the new guy. For those who like wins, Harvey could have double the seven he's sitting on. His innings limit will curtain his Cy bid after the break.
Later: Clayton Kershaw -- It's criminal that Kershaw is hovering at the .500 mark (8-6) but his appetite for innings (1451/3), minuscule 1.98 ERA and pitcher-friendly home should nab him the Cy by season's end. Adam Wainwright (2.30 ERA) has a real shot at 20 wins for a good Cards team, which could be tough to swallow personally if he finishes second.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Now: Jose Iglesias -- After demoting last year's rookie sensation Will Middlebrooks, the Red Sox are relying on yet another in Iglesias, a slick-fielding shortstop who hasn't been fazed by his move to third. Iglesias' slash line of .384/.435/.483 makes him Puig-like, but with only one homer in 50 games.
Later: Leonys Martin -- The Rangers' centerfielder doesn't have an equal slash to Iglesias, but he's put in more time (80 games), has more pop (five HRs) and is likely to end up with the more impressive season when it's over as Iglesias is bound to cool. He also has 18 stolen bases, another dimension to his ROY caliber talent. The Indians' Yan Gomes and Mariners' Nick Franklin could also make a push.
Now: Yasiel Puig -- Puig-mania cooled some in the final days of the first half when Freddie Freeman edged him in the fan vote for the NL's last All-Star spot. His dust-up with Luis Gonzalez and subsequent rips by opposing players also dirtied his fairy tale. But numbers are numbers, and Puig's comet-like surge to stardom included a .392/.424/.622 line with eight homers and 27 runs scored in his first 37 games.
Later: Shelby Miller -- Miller (9-6) deserves to be in the Cy Young conversation, as well, with a 2.92 ERA and 9.63 K/9, but he'll take this after Puig goes through an inevitable cool-down and/or possibly hurts himself with his hell-bent style of play. Braves catcher Evan Gattis should make a run after slugging 14 homers in his first 53 games. But he's still not back from an oblique strain that's cost him the past month -- and could continue to bother him in the second half.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Now: John Farrell -- The Blue Jays couldn't wait to ship him to the Red Sox after Farrell pined for a return to Boston, where he was the pitching coach under Terry Francona. That said, Farrell helped calm the hornets nest of dysfunction that repeatedly stung Bobby Valentine last season and has the Red Sox on pace to win 98 games, a worst to first turnaround that always earns the MOY.
Later: Farrell -- The AL East is going to be a dogfight down to the final week, and if the Red Sox falter, Farrell could lose this award to whomever beats him -- Buck Showalter, Joe Maddon or Joe Girardi. If the Yankees somehow claim a playoff spot, Girardi would be most deserving. He should get some sort of medal, anyway, for having to endure another season of A-Rod drama.
Now: Clint Hurdle -- Trying to surf a wave of 20 straight losing seasons is not easy, but so far, Hurdle looks like he'll be the first Pirates manager to finish over .500 since Jim Leyland's 96-win team in 1992. Pittsburgh also tanked on Hurdle's watch last season when they went 16-36 over the final 52 games, but we'll chalk that up to a learning experience if the Bucks hang on this time.
Later: Hurdle -- If the Pirates make the playoffs, Hurdle is a slam dunk. If they go belly up again, and Kirk Gibson gets his young D-backs a second NL West title in three years, then Gibson takes it. Rookie manager Walt Weiss has done a noteworthy job with the Rockies still in the race, but they're under .500 (45-49).