Sunday, 8 July 2007

MLB First Half Awards

With the All-Star break upon us, it's time to hand out my awards for the first half of the season.

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Guthrie, Baltimore
There are some solid position player candidates, but no one really good enough to beat out Guthrie and his sub-3.00 ERA. Likewise, there are some solid pitching candidates (such as Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima), but I think Guthrie has been a little more valuable. He strikes out only a modest 6.35 batters per 9 innings, but he has shown good command and has a 4:1 K:BB ratio. I think Matsuzaka is the better bet long-term, but Guthrie has been a little better so far.
Other candidates: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, Dustin Pedroia, Travis Buck
End of season prediction: Daisuke Matsuzaka

NL Rookie of the Year: Hunter Pence, Houston
Pence has been an absolute hitting machine since his call-up, and if he keeps it up might even get some MVP consideration. His lack of plate patience (only 10 BB and 52 K) makes it unlikely he can keep up his .340+ average, but he is hitting for a lot of power. If he does slip up, Ryan Braun looks like a great candidate, as he has been one of the best players in the NL over the past couple months.
Other candidates: Ryan Braun, Josh Hamilton
End of season prediction: Ryan Braun

AL Cy Young: Dan Haren, Oakland
Haren has started to come back down to Earth, but he's still the leading candidate in the AL. He has displayed good control (with an over 3:1 K:BB ratio). A look at his DIPS ERA shows he might be getting a little lucky so far (and the lack of hits allowed might be a bit flukey), but Haren is an excellent pitcher who has been among the League's best for a couple of years. If that luck does start to even out, he'll have lots of competition from Johan Santana, who, aside from a high number of HRA, has had a great first half and appears to have hit his stride a little earlier than normal.
Other candidates: Johan Santana, John Lackey, Josh Becket,, Erik Bedard
End of season prediction: Johan Santana

NL Cy Young: Jake Peavy, San Diego
Peavy has been the best pitcher in the MLB in the first half. There's no debate in my mind... he has simply been dominant in a way that no other pitcher has been so far. Of course the ERA is great, but Peavy is set apart from the rest with his great K rate and good control. Plus, he's only allowed 3 HR all year. But while I do think he has been the best, it's not like everyone else has struggled. Brad Penny and Chris Young have also been dominant, just not as much so.
Other candidates: Brad Penny, Chris Young
End of season prediction: Jake Peavy

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez, New York
This was probably the closest one for me to call, because Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez are about dead even. Both have been outstanding and stand far above the rest of the AL crop. I actually think Magglio has been a little better at the plate, but the fact that A-Rod plays 3B puts him a little bit ahead. Still, if you wanted to take Magglio here, I'd be hard pressed to argue too much.
Other candidates: Magglio Ordonez
End of season prediction: Alex Rodriguez

NL MVP: Hanley Ramirez, Florida
OK, this one is a little more out there, but I still really do think Ramirez is the most underrated player in the MLB. I mean, Jose Reyes is great, but he gets all the publicity while there's hardly a peep about Ramirez. Check out the numbers... Ramirez is hitting a lot better than Reyes, and he's pretty darn good on the basepaths as well. His OBP is above .380, he's slugging over .530, and he plays SS. He leads the NL in VORP right now (3rd in the MLB behind A-Rod and Mags). It was a really tough call to put Ramirez over Chase Utley and Prince Fielder, but he's been outstanding.
Other candidates: Chase Utley, Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera
End of season prediction: Chase Utley

Your thoughts? Who are your award winners so far?