Baseball reached it’s midway point as the calender flipped to July. With teams having played around 80 games, voters have half of the sample size that will determine this year’s award winners.
This has been an unpredictable year in baseball. At 51-30, baseball’s best mark, the Pirates seem destined to have their first winning season in 20 years. Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin is 9-0. So is Boston Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz. Detroit Tigers strikeout artist Max Scherzer is 12-0, the first pitcher to be so since Roger Clemens in 1986.
Scherzer’s historic start pales in comparison of teammate Miguel Cabrera’s legendary pursuits. The AL leader in batting average and RBI, Cabrera’s chase for baseball’s first Triple Crown repeat is one of summer’s biggest storylines. Think about it, Cabrera is well on his way to doing something no one—not Ted Williams, not Mickey Mantle, not Ty Cobb—could do.
With All-Star break approaching, we submit our votes for baseball’s midseason awards.
AL Rookie of the Year: Oswaldo Arcia, Minnesota Twins
In a weak class, Arcia stands out. Baseball America’s #41 prospect entering the season, he owns a .283/.346/.464 line with six homers and 25 RBI. The 22-year-old started last season in high-A ball and has been torching opposing pitching since.
NL Rookie of the Year: Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins
Fernandez is in the lead now, but this race could be one of the most fascinating in years with Los Angeles Dodgers phenom Yaisel Puig continuing to do something incredible every day. Unlike Puig, the 20-year-old Fernandez started the season in the big leagues, after less than 150 minor league innings. In 16 starts he has 94 strikeouts and a 2.72 ERA. His 3.00 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is among the best in the game. While fellow rookie pitcher Shelby Miller has struggled recently, Fernandez has improved with the season, striking out 10 and allowing two hits over eight innings against the Padres. Puig is sure to cool from his hellacious start, but even then his race with Fernandez will be exciting.
AL Cy Young: Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox
It’s been nearly a month since Buchholz took the mound, but his impact has still been among the biggest by AL starters this season. The Sox were 11-1 in games Buccholz started, which led to his 9-0 mark before doing down to neck issues. Buchholz and his 1.71 ERA face stiff competition if he cannot return to his early season form. Detroit’s combination of Scherzer (12-0, 0.90 WHIP, 10.69 K/9) and Anibal Sanchez (2.06 FIP, 11.13 K/9) are both making surprising runs.
NL Cy Young: Matt Harvey, New York Mets
While not a rookie, Harvey is the best young pitcher in baseball. He has allowed 2 earned runs or fewer in 13 of his 17 starts this season, averaging nearly seven innings pitched per start. His 132 strikeouts, 1.99 FIP and 2.00 ERA are all NL-bests. His 0.85 walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP) is the best in baseball.
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
He is bating .369, making him a lock to repeat as batting champ. But if Cabrera is to reclaim his Triple Crown, he must fight off the Orioles Chris Davis. Cabrera has 82 RBI to Davis’ 80, and trails Davis in homers 31-25. If Davis is able to continue his torrid start and prevent Cabrera’s repeat, he deserves consideration. This will be baseball’s most compelling race.
NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
The NL West is not home to impressive records, but it is the site of a serious MVP race. Goldschmidt is the engine behind the first place D’Backs with his .303/.382/.557 line with 20 homers and 69 RBI. Compare those numbers to Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez’s .296/.363/.604 with 22 homers and 60 RBI. Splitting hairs. Gonzalez has 15 steals, Goldschmidt eight. Another contender: Milwaukee’s Jean Segura, who asks “Can an MVP play on a last place team?” Segura owns a .325/.358/.503 line with 11 homers and 24 steals.
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