Mid-Season Baseball Report
As the MLB All Star break has come to a close, I think that it’s a fitting time to hand out some mid-season awards and make some predictions for the remaining 70+ games that each team has to play. A lot of what I predicted in my National League and American League previews has been accurate (i.e. A-Rod’s big year, the NL division winners, Prince Fielder), but just as much has been dreadfully wrong (i.e. the Astros, Marlins, and Jorge Soler). So, it is time to amend some of my mistakes and hopefully correct some of my poor picks. Let’s get started by handing out some mid-season awards.
NL MVP: Bryce Harper – This is probably the most obvious choice for any of the categories in either league. Harper is finally experiencing the same kind of success that he had in 2012, when he won Rookie of the Year. With 26 home runs, 61 RBIs, and a .339 batting average, Harper is a legitimate contender for the Triple Crown while playing for a team, the Washington Nationals, that holds a two game lead in the National League East. As long as Harper can avoid injuries that have plagued him throughout his career, he should be expected to keep up his stellar production and win the MVP.
AL MVP: Mike Trout – There are many players deserving of the MVP in the American League, but Trout stands above them all at the midway point in the season. Trout is batting .312 with 26 home runs and 55 RBIs, which are all complemented by his fantastic defense in centerfield. Trout has helped the Los Angeles Angels overcome a large early season deficit to overtake the upstart Houston Astros in the American League West, and he is in line to win his second straight MVP.
NL Cy Young: Gerrit Cole – With a 13-3 record and a 2.30 ERA, Cole has been the leading figure in a dominant Pittsburgh Pirates rotation. At 24 years old, Cole has already topped his wins totals from each of his first two years in the league, and there is no reason to expect a decline in his performance as the Pirates fight to erase a 2.5 game deficit in the National League Central.
AL Cy Young: Dallas Keuchel – At the start of the season, Keuchel had a career record of 21-27 with a 4.16 ERA, so his rise to dominance this year has been very unlikely and unexpected. Keuchel is 11-4 this season with a 2.23 ERA for a Houston Astros team that has lead the American League West (despite now being a half of a game out) for the majority of the season.
NL Rookie of the Year: Kris Bryant – I said before that Bryce Harper was the easiest choice for any award, but Bryant comes in a close second place. The 23-year-old is batting .269 with 12 home runs and 51 RBIs, while batting third for the Wild Card leading Chicago Cubs. Bryant, a third baseman, has also shown great versatility in the field by playing both center field and left field, which he played in the All Star game on Tuesday night. Bryant is the most dominating rookie that the Cubs have had since Kerry Wood’s Rookie of the Year season in 1998, but hopefully injuries will not dismantle Bryant’s career as well.
AL Rookie of the Year: Billy Burns – There is no dominating rookie in the American League like there is in the National League, but Burns has been the leading candidate thus far. Many writers have called Burns the MVP of the last place Oakland A’s, and A’s beat writer Katrina Putnam thinks that he was a snub for the All Star game. As the A’s leadoff man, Burns has batted .303 this season and has had 17 steals for a team that prides itself in “small ball.” He has also been great defensively in center field with 136 put-outs and no errors.
NL Play of the Year: Tuffy Gosewisch – I may have picked this play because I caught in high school and I know how hard it is to pop out of the crouch like he did, but the name Tuffy Gosewisch also had a lot to do with it. Watch it and enjoy.
AL Play of the Year: Josh Donaldson – Even Odell Beckham Jr. was impressed by this one-handed grab. This is definitely the play of the year so far in the American League.
Now that I have handed out awards, it is time to try again to pick the division and wild card winners for both the American and National League. It pains me to have to change certain predictions that I had made at the start of the year, but even Nostradamus had to admit his failures on occasion. The key is to be right the second time around, so I am going to give it a shot right now.
AL East: Boston Red Sox (currently 6.5 games behind)
AL Central: Kansas City Royals (currently leading the division by 4.5 games)
AL West: Los Angeles Angels (currently leading the division by 0.5 games)
AL Wild Card #1: Detroit Tigers (currently 3.5 games behind)
AL Wild Card #2: Texas Rangers (currently 5.5 games behind)
NL East: Washington Nationals (currently leading the division by 2 games)
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals (currently leading the division by 2.5 games)
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers (currently leading the division by 4.5 games)
NL Wild Card #1: Pittsburgh Pirates (currently leading the wild card by 5.5 games)
NL Wild Card #2: San Diego Padres (currently 7.5 games behind)