Mid-Year Hardware

Last week I wrote about some players who have let their ball clubs down through the first half of the season. Today I want to return to being on the side of positivity by looking at guys I would vote for on my personal ballot for the the three most discussed awards. This is more of a first half award as we know the second half is where the story of the season is written. Things can definitely change a lot before the season ends. Cy Young: My Cy Young winner at this point in the season is Sandy Alcantara of the Miami Marlins. He is sporting a 9-3 record, with 111 strikeouts over 130.1 innings. He is currently the only pitcher in baseball averaging over seven innings per start. His actual ERA of 1.73 is ahead of his Fielding Independent Pitching, which is 2.83. Alcantara for me is where the numbers and the eye test line up. He throws a power sinker in the 96 MPH range, but can dial it up to 99 if needed. He hasn’t been a quality over quantity guy; his 130.1 innings are a dozen more than Aaron Nola, the next closest guy. He has only allowed six homer, so he has been antidote to the formula for modern offensive success. My American League award winner is also from a team in Florida. My Junior Circuit winner is Shane McClanahan of the Tampa Bay Rays. He is also 9-3, and matches Alcantara with his 1.73 ERA. McClanahan does it in a different way though. He is power pitcher through and through. His 141 strikeouts in 104.1 innings equates to a rate of 12.2 per nine innings; this number is second best among qualified starters (Dylan Cease with 13.1 per nine leads the way). He is close to his FIP of 2.48, so he hasn’t been getting lucky. The Rays a due for another Cy Young award winner. Most Valuable Player: The St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is my choice for MVP as of today. .333/.417/.596 combined with 19 home runs; 65 runs batted in, and 61 runs scored works at this point if the season for any team. Goldy might not be an underrated player for too much longer if he keeps this up. He is a large part of the reason the Cardinals have remained in the National League Central race despite the injuries to the members of the pitching staff. It is time for the largest player in baseball to get his due. Aaron Judge of the New Yankees is my American Legaue MVP to this point. Judge has remained healthy this season and has put up .282/.360/.608 with 30 homers, 65 RBI, and 67 runs scored. Shohei Ohtani, Yordan Alvarez, and Mike Trout are worthy candidates, but the object is to win and the Yankees have the best record in baseball with Aaron Judge leading the way. Rookie of The Year: In the always unpredictable ROY race, I am going with Michael Harris II of the Atlanta Braves as my partial season guy. Harris got off to a later start than some, but his arrival has coincided with the Braves getting back into the mix for the NL East crown. Harris has hit seven home runs, driven in 24, scored 28 times, and stolen seven bags while slashing .288/.319/.500. He has played error-free whilem showing great range in centerfield. His 3.1% walk rate against a 22.1% strikeout rate is concerning, but this is part and parcel with young players. Julio Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners got named to the actual all-star team, so it is natural he is my ROY as of now. The offense has definitely been as advertised. He batting .274/.334/.477 with 15 dingers, 44 steaks, and has been plated 50 times. He has already swiped 21 bags as well. We have to be mindful of his 27.0% strikeout rate and 7.0% walk rate, but he has been a dude for the resurgent Mariners, who find themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt as they attmept to end the longest playoff drought in baseball. We all know the story of the 2022 season is not nearly over, but this is the point at which narratives start to form. Fans and sportswriters alike love a good narrative. I have no doubt someone we haven’t thought about will be a factor in these races before the season ends. Think back to Yoenis Cespedes ending up in the top-10 for the NL MVP after a deadline deal to the Mets, or to go way back in the time machine, Rick Sutcliffe won a Cy Young award after going 16-1 for the Cubs following a mid-season deal.

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