Monday, July 3, 2017

On Deck Circle 7/3/17: MLB Midseason Awards

By Pat Luhta, @PLuhta

We have reached the halfway point in the 2017 MLB season. While there is plenty of baseball left to be played, we can always take a look at the year that has been so far and talk about the frontrunners for the major MLB awards. Here at the "On Deck Circle", we will hand out midseason awards for the AL and NL rookie of the year, MVP and Cy Young award along with who is also in the running currently for these prestigious awards.



WINNER: Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees – This one is a no brainer, Judge doesn’t need to play another inning and he already has this award wrapped up. He is not only leading all rookies in home runs, but is leading the entire MLB in that category. He is also 2nd in the AL in batting average, combine that with his impressive power and it makes sense that he is also leading the entire MLB in OPS(on base+slugging.) Judge has not only wrapped up this award but has put himself in contention for many other awards and honors as well, needless to say it was quite a first half for Aaron Judge.

RUNNER-UP: Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox – A far distant 2nd place in rookie of the year shouldn’t lessen the impact that he has had so far this season. Benintendi is currently batting .275 with 10 home runs and 41 RBI’s, a very solid first full season in the majors currently. He is a big reason why the Red Sox offense is one of the better ones in the AL and he is doing his part in keeping them a playoff team.


WINNER: Jason Vargas, SP, Kansas City Royals - In a league filled with guys like Corey Kluber, Dallas Kuechel, Chris Sale and Yu Darvish, it’s Jason Vargas that is currently the AL Cy Young award winner. At 34 years old, Vargas is putting up career best numbers, leading the AL in wins, WAR and ERA while being 8th in WHIP. He has only started 12 games in the past 2 years combined so this comes as a surprise especially considering his career best ERA was 3.71 that he posted in 2014. Nonetheless, name value should not matter when deciding these awards and right now Jason Vargas has been the best pitcher in the AL.

RUNNER-UP: Chris Sale, SP, Boston Red Sox – The Boston Red Sox gave up a lot in order to trade for Chris Sale and it’s been worth every little bit. He leads the AL in K’s and WHIP and is 3rd in ERA, posting a 10-3 record. He has been the Red Sox workhorse all season due to injury to David Price and issues with other starting pitching, he has been heavily relied on and has come through for Boston so far. This is a close race currently with Sale having as good of a case as any for this award, will be a fun race to watch the rest of the way.


WINNER: Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees - Aaron Judge is not only the current rookie of the year, but the entire league MVP. The Yankees are a playoff team and much of the credit goes to Judge and his offensive production. 2nd in batting average, 1st in home runs, 1st in on base %, 1st in slugging % and 1st in OPS in the American League to go along with his 4.8 WAR(also 1st in AL.) The Yankees are 3rd or 4th in the division without his production and not a playoff team, instead they are in a battle with the Red Sox for the AL East and looking to win the division.

RUNNER-UP: Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros - The runner-up here could go to either Houston Astros middle infielder, Carlos Correa or Jose Altuve. Both are nearly identical in stats, Correa just adds a bit more pop off the bat while Altuve adds the speed in the lineup. Right now, they'll be splitting votes depending on who you ask, so there's some gray area there as far as value to the team whereas Aaron Judge is solidified in being the main reason why the Yankees offense is as good as it is. Correa deserves a ton of credit for being the best player on the best team in the AL, but in terms in value he falls just a bit short here.



WINNER: Cody Bellinger, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers - Much like the AL Rookie of the year, this one is also a no brainer. Bellinger was called up from triple A on April 25th and since then, he has been a nightmare to opposing pitchers. His 24 home runs leads the National League, is batting .267 and is currently 5th in the NL in OPS. No other rookie comes close to matching the offensive numbers that Bellinger is putting up, easily the NL rookie of the year so far.

RUNNER-UP: Josh Bell, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates - Josh Bell is putting together a pretty solid rookie campaign as well. While batting average and on base percentage leaves some to be desired, he does have 15 home runs this season so he is providing some power for the Pirates. He's not putting up Bellinger numbers but not many players are, good rookie season so far for him still.


WINNER: Max Scherzer, SP, Washington Nationals - This race for Cy Young in the 2nd half of the season will be something to watch, but right now at the midseason point the award goes to Max Scherzer. Leading the NL in ERA with 2.06 with a ridiculous .78 WHIP, Scherzer has been close to untouchable in most of his starts. This also is why a pitcher's W-L record is so deceptive and not a good measure on how good a pitcher is, despite leading the NL in ERA, K's and WHIP , Scherzer is 9-5 on the season. Can't fault a pitcher for pitching well and not getting run support, the stats speak for themselves and Scherzer deserves the Cy Young award.

RUNNER-UP: Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers - Kershaw is right behind Scherzer for this award and trails him in many categories. Kershaw is 2nd in the NL in ERA, K's and WHIP, with Scherzer leading those categories. They are very close though in them so a lot can change in the next 3 months and will be exciting to see how this plays out but right now, Kershaw is just edged out for this award.


WINNER: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks - The Arizona Diamondbacks are a surprise team this season with one of the best offenses in the league. The most consistent and overall best player on offense for them has been Paul Goldschmidt, who is having yet another stellar season. Without Goldschmidt, there's no telling where this team would be, he is batting .317 with 19 home runs and leads the National League in RBI's. Arizona's offense flows through him and he is currently the NL MVP.

RUNNER-UP : Cody Bellinger, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers - On April 25th, the Dodgers were 10-11 and just called Cody Bellinger up to take the spot of Adrian Gonzalez, who was headed to the DL. Since then, the Dodgers are 44-17 and leading the best division in baseball(NL West.) During that stretch, they also lost Justin Turner for 19 games and Bellinger was there to pick up the slack and then some. There are many candidates for NL MVP, Nolan Arenado and Bryce Harper immediately come to mind, but what Bellinger has done while players like Gonzalez and Turner have been out is MVP worthy. The Dodgers offense hasn't skipped a beat in their absence, in large due to Bellinger's 24 home runs and 56 RBI's.

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