The 2017 MLB Midseason Awards
With the season on pause, we take a moment to consider who would win the major awards if they were handed out today.
The midseason break is officially here. While the majority of players get some well-earned time off and a select handful enjoy their time in Miami, we lowly baseball writers, bloggers, and fans are left twiddling our thumbs wondering what to talk about.
Which is why these midseason awards exist.
We have a big enough sample to separate the lucky from the good, and the good from the great. We will take a look at four awards in each league; the Managers of the Year, Rookies of the Year, Cy Young Awards, and of course, the MVPs.
Remember, these are individual awards and team performance does not count towards consideration:
AL Manager of the Year: Paul Molitor, Minnesota Twins
What a ride the Twins have been over the past few years…
In Molitor’s first season, back in 2015, the Twins vastly overachieved, winning 83 games while remaining in the Wild Card conversation all the way down to the wire (three games back of the final WC spot).
Then the 2016 season came, and the Twins lost 103 games.
So, of course, they spent a large portion of May and June in first place in the AL Central and are still just a couple of games behind Cleveland in the division.
NL Manager of the Year: Torey Lovullo, Arizona Diamondbacks
A very respected person in the sport, the Diamondbacks’ hiring of Torey Lovullo was considered an excellent hire for the organization, and he’s done nothing to change that perception.
This was a franchise that had struggled through a couple of frustrating seasons (hopes of contending, only to end up with losing records), but Arizona has been fantastic under Lovullo’s watch. Maybe the same would’ve happened with Chip Hale if he were to have stayed around for his third season, but who knows? What we do know is that the Diamondbacks have been fantastic under Lovullo, and in a hard-to-figure category like Midseason Manager of the Year, that’s more than enough.
AL Rookie of the Year: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
You’re shocked, right?! When a guy is this easy of a choice for MVP, he’s an even easier pick for the rookie award. (SPOILERS)
NL Rookie of the Year: Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers
Yeah, there’s not much suspense with this year’s Rookie of the Year awards thus far.
Though he didn’t make his Major League debut until April 25, Bellinger is tied for the NL lead with 24 home runs to go with a .949 OPS and 56 RBI while splitting his time between first base and left field for the Dodgers.
Those 24 home runs become even more impressive considering Bellinger hit “only” 23 in 114 Double-A games last year (and three in three Triple-A contests).
AL Cy Young Award: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
Dallas Keuchel has been good but hurt. Ervin Santana has fallen off a cliff. Lance McCullers has been strong. Jason Vargas has been quietly very good. But none of them have been able to hold a candle to Chris Sale this season.
The newly acquired Red Sox ace has been a fire-breathing monster, and that could possibly be an understatement. His MLB-best 12.55 K/9 is a result of his devastating slider and his increased use of a changeup to keep hitters off balance. He has 12 starts of double-digit strikeouts and has kept the ball in the park (only 0.78 HR/9 thus far).
Barring injury, it’s almost impossible to see anyone else dethroning Sale.
NL Cy Young Award: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
By far, the most difficult decision to make.
From a resurgent Alex Wood in LA to Zack Greinke in the desert and the surprising Jimmy Nelson in Milwaukee. However, it came down to two names, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer.
Both have been exceptional, though Kershaw got off to a slow start before finding his feet while Scherzer has been more consistently brilliant so far this season.
Kershaw has had three poor starts this season to Scherzer’s two. Kershaw’s strikeouts have also been incredibly shaky from start to start, four starts with five or fewer and seven starts of 10+ compared to Scherzer’s zero and 11 in the same categories. It’s this consistency that tips this balance in favor of Scherzer.
Scherzer’s terrific 12.1 K/9 rate together with a minuscule 5.1 H/9 rate, have made him incredibly touch to score on. These things make it almost impossible not to hand the trophy to him, but then again, we are only halfway through the season. This race will continue the rest of the way and maybe others will find ways to sneak into the conversation, but as of today, July 12, Scherzer gets the title.
AL MVP: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
If you’re reading this, you most likely know what Aaron Judge has done this season, but just in case you haven’t…
Judge has been either leading or near the lead of the Triple Crown categories (batting average, homers, RBI) all season, and he’s basically carried the Yankees into playoff contention in a season that didn’t have sky-high expectations to begin with back in the spring.
NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
What about Bryce Harper? Ryan Zimmerman? Nolan Arenado? I know, I know, just hear me out.
Paul Goldschmidt is without a doubt the most chronically underrated star in baseball, period. He has a pair of MVP runner-up finishes to his credit, but you could make the case that this is his best season yet AND his team is in playoff contention.
Goldschmidt is hitting .314 on the year with a 1.009 OPS, 19 HRs, 13 stolen bases, 66 RBI, 72 runs scored, and a WAR of 4.2. So please baseball, give the man the credit he deserves, he has earned it.