July 11, 2006
MLB Midseason, Part I
If the season ended today, the division winners would look like this:
AL East: Boston
AL Central: Detroit
AL West: Texas (tied with Seattle)
AL Wild Card: Chicago
NL East: NY Mets
NL Central: St. Louis
NL West: San Diego
NL Wild Card: LA Dodgers
Onto the first-half awards...
I have to give this award to David Ortiz, although he did start the first half fairly slowly. He and Jim Thome have very similar numbers: Ortiz has 31 HRs, 87 RBI while Thome has 30 HRs and 77 RBI, both while being primarily a DH. Thome has done it in fewer at-bats, so his percentage stats are a bit higher, but I think Ortiz has meant more to his team and the Red Sox are in first place in their division. Nobody else is really all that close - my third-place vote would probably go to Joe Mauer or Vernon Wells.
This one is a little bit more clear-cut - it's Albert Pujols all the way in my mind. Pujols missed almost 20 days due to his oblique injury, and he still has the best numbers in baseball. David Wright gets my second place vote for what he has meant to this surprisingly great Mets team, and Ryan Howard is in third place.
AL Cy Young:
With apologies to Fransisco Liriano, this award has to go to Johan Santana. Liriano has great numbers, but he has half the starts of Santana and, for most hitters, it is the first time they have ever faced Liriano. Santana has been around for a little longer, but he's been just as great. Santana leads the league in K's and has a sub-3 ERA as well. If you had one game to win, and you could put any pitcher in baseball on the mound, would you take anybody in baseball over this guy? Second place is Liriano, third place Roy Halladay.
NL Cy Young:
This is a very tight race as well. In the end, I'll go with the ERA leader Brandon Webb. Webb's 2.65 ERA is second-best in the majors (behind only Liriano), and he won his first eight starts of the year. Lots of people like Tom Glavine, but his league-leading 11 wins are more a product of the Mets' offense than anything else - Glavine is not among the top ten in the league in ERA. Jason Schmidt gets my second place vote, and Glavine third.
AL Rookie of the Year:
This category is the most stacked it has been in recent memory - there are three candidates who would easily win in just about any other year. But I can't go against what Jon Paplebon has done this year - he has more saves than he does hits allowed (26, 25)! Paplebon's ERA is .59, which I believe would be the lowest number in history for any closer, if he keeps it up. I didn't factor Paplebon into the Cy Young race because generally relievers are not considered unless there are no top starters who are putting up big numbers. If Liriano can keep up what he's doing for a full year, he might edge Paplebon for the ROY by the end of the year, but for now Paplebon is the pick. Justin Verlander gets my third-place vote, although he could win 20 games and finish with an ERA in the twos.
This one is a little trickier. Most of these guys have been up-and-down all year, and someone should probably pull away by the end of the year. For now, though, Dan Uggla is my pick. The Marlins' second baseman is hitting over .300 this year, and I think he is just a hair better than the other guys. Second place is Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman, and Prince Fielder of the Brewers is third. I couldn't fault you for putting any of these three at the top, though.
Coming Tomorrow: A look ahead at the second half of the MLB season!