Monday, July 4, 2011

First Half Awards: National League

As I did for the American League the other day, today I will list who I feel the major award winners in the National League would be if the season ended today.

Most Valuable Player: Matt Kemp (LAD)
The Numbers: .322/.406/.609, 22 Homers, 64 RBI, 22 SB.

In the real voting that will occur at the end of the season, Kemp will not benefit from the fact that he is playing on a mediocre team. But in selecting who has been the all-around best player this year in the National League, it is difficult to select anyone else. Don't get me wrong, there are certainly other candidates -- many of which are more likely to win the actual award at the end of the season given the teams they are on, but Kemp has been better. Kemp is first in the National League in Home Runs, first in Total Bases, second in OPS, third in RBI, fourth in Stolen Bases, and fifth in Hits. His impressive numbers across the board make it difficult for anyone else to compete with him, especially when he plays at a premium position like Center Field.
Honorable Mentions: Jose Reyes, Prince Fielder, Lance Berkman, Brian McCann.

Cy Young Award: Roy Halladay (PHI)
The Numbers: 136.1 Innings Pitched, 11-3, 2.44 ERA 8.6 K/9, 131/17 strike out to walk ratio, 1.027 WHIP.
Halladay may not have the lowest ERA in the National League, but his all-around numbers indicate that his season is more sustainable.
Halladay is leading the league in Innings Pitched and Complete Games, and Strikeout to walk ratio, second in Strike Outs and WHIP, and third in ERA. Halladay's high position on every single pitching statistic is indicative of just how great he is, in my opinion it is hard to argue that there is any better pitcher in the game right now.
Honorable Mentions: Jair Jurrjens, Cole Hamels

Rookie of the Year: Danny Espinosa (WAS)
The Numbers: .243/.328/.465, 15 Homers, 48 RBI, 9 SB.

In kind of a down year for rookies in the National League, Espinosa has been the best. He has provided valuable power for the Nationals who lost Adam Dunn last year and have been missing Ryan Zimmerman for most of this year. His slash-line numbers may not be excellent, but compared to other National League rookies he is quite good. Among rookies Espinosa is first in Slugging, OPS, Home Runs, Stolen Bases, and RBIs. Espinosa is still only 23, and looks like (if he could develop some patience) he could become an excellent hitter in the coming years for the Nationals.
Honorable Mentions: Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman, Darwin Barney.

Comeback Player of the Year: Lance Berkman (STL)
The Numbers: Last year: .248/.368/.413, 14 Homers, 58 RBI. This year: .297/.409/.610, 22 Homers, 61 RBI.
Most people though Berkman's life as an elite producer was over after last year, but he has proved them wrong, being the most productive hitter on a team that has Albert Pujols. Berkman has already surpassed the majority of his numbers from last year, and is a legitimate MVP candidate if he can continue his production. He is first in the NL OPS, and Home Runs, and fifth in RBI.
Some may feel that Jose Reyes deserves to be here, but I based my "Comeback Player" on improvement over a previous season. While Reyes has certainly had a much better season this year, he was by no means a bad player last year as Berkman was. Also by definition a "Comeback Player" has to be someone who has had legitimate success earlier in their career but had a difficult season the year before, making break-out players (like Michael Morse) ineligible in my opinion.
Honorable Mention: Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran

Saturday, July 2, 2011

First Half Awards: American League

So I just recently discussed who I felt was the best player at each position in each league. I figure I will follow that up by discussing who I feel would win all of the major awards if the season ended today.

American League

Most Valuable Player: Adrian Gonzalez (BOS)
The Numbers: .349/.404/.590, 16 Homers, 73 RBI
Gonzalez is leading the league in Hits, Runs Batted In, Total Bases, and Batting Average. He has been the most consistent hitter on a wildly inconsistent Red Sox team. Gonzalez has also been a force on both sides of the ball, with most defensive metrics showing him to be one of the best defensive First Basemen in the league. On the whole, it is difficult to argue any other player in the league has been better than Gonzalez so far this season.
Honorable Mentions: Jose Bautista (TOR), Curtis Granderson (NYY), Paul Konerko (CWS).

Cy Young Award: Justin Verlander (DET)
The Numbers: 11-3, 135.2 Innings Pitched, 2.32 ERA, .862 WHIP, 130 Strike Outs.
Verlander has had dominant seasons before (see: 2009), but this season surpasses anything he has ever done if he can keep up this pace. Verlander is leading the league in strikeouts, Innings Pitched, and WHIP. There are not even very many relief pitchers who have a WHIP comparable to Verlander's. Some pitchers may have slightly lower ERAs than Verlander's, but WHIP is certainly a better number to look at for a pitcher as it indicates how sustainable a pitcher's numbers are. The fact that Verlander has put up the best WHIP in the most-innings pitched indicates how good he has been this season.
Honorable Mentions: Josh Beckett (BOS), Michael Pineda (SEA), Jered Weaver (LAA), James Shields (TBR).

Rookie of the Year: Michael Pineda (SEA)
The Numbers: 7-5, 2.65 ERA, 1.029 WHIP, 8.7 K/9.
Pineda has come on to the scene in Seattle as a force and is a big part of why Seattle is fairing better this year than they did last year. He is seventh in the league in WHIP, sixth in the league in ERA, and 10th in the league Strike Outs. These numbers make him one of the best pitchers in the league, not just the best rookie. Barring some unforeseen injury or a bout of ineffectiveness it is difficult to see anyone else winning the Rookie of the Year Award.
Honorable Mentions: Mark Trumbo (LAA), Jeremy Hellickson (TBR).

Comeback Player of the Year: Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS)
The Numbers: 2010: 18 Games, .192/.241/.485. 2011: 80 Games, .300/.361/.452, 25 SB, 9 Homers, 45 RBI.
While the NL is awash with Comeback Player of the Year Candidates, the American League is a little shorter on candidates. The only other legitimate comeback player candidate in my mind is probably Russel Martin, and Ellsbury is outperforming him in every way. Ellsbury's season last year was cut short due to a rib injury, and when he was playing he was not particularly effective. There was some worry that he would not come back and be a full speed, but he has been impressive. He has on track for his usual 50+ Stolen Bases, but more interestingly he has already tied his career high for Home Runs and is on track to set career highs in RBIs, Doubles, and Hits.
Honorable Mention: Russel Martin

That's all for now. I will tackle the National League in the coming days!