With the Home Run Derby tonight and All Star Game tomorrow night, MLB has reached the middle of its season and it is time to look back at the first half of 2007.
First, the mid-season awards:
AL MVP: This was one of the toughest awards, because there a three candidates all having terrific years, but in the end, Magglio Ordonez deserves the award. The final three candidates for the award were Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, Vladimir Guerrero of the Los Angeles Angels, and Magglio Ordonez of the Detroit Tigers.
A-Rod leads the league in both home runs and runs batted in, two categories for the Triple Crown, but he is in the middle of a great lineup. Pitchers cannot pitch around Rodriguez like they can with Ordonez or Guerrero. On top of that, the Yankees are below .500 and are 10 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. In terms of stats, his .301 average shows his consistency throughout the season, but his 71 strikeouts are more than the two other candidates combined (71 to 69). He’s having an amazing year, but not quite an MVP caliber one.
Guerrero may not have as good as stats as A-Rod does, but he means more to his team. The Angels have a lack-luster lineup and Guerrero provides much of the offense for the entire team. His 75 RBI and .325 average both rank in the top 10. With only 14 home runs and 46 runs total, Guerrero lacks the complete package for an MVP, but deserves recognition for the Angels being in first place.
Ordonez has had a magnificent year on many levels. Like Guerrero, Ordonez has only hit 13 home runs, but his .367 batting average leads Major League Baseball. His 70 RBI and 70 runs nearly equal Rodriguez, while Ordonez’s batting average beats him. Of course, A-Rod holds a commanding lead in home runs, so it comes down to who meant more to there team. The Yankees have been a huge disappointment, while the Tigers finished the year with a three game sweep of the Boston Red Sox and have played .600 ball in the toughest division in baseball. With his great stats, the Tigers depend on Ordonez like no other team and he contributes like no other player, making the Tigers a great ball club and himself the MVP.
NL MVP: Very rarely is a pitcher named MVP, but Jake Peavy of the San Diego Padres deserves this award. The two other real contenders for this award were Matt Holliday of the Colorado Rockies and Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Holliday has swung the bat with great consistency this year, making him second in the NL in batting at .341. His 15 home runs are a bit low, but his 69 RBIs place him third in the National League. The problem for Holliday is that the rest of his stats are not good enough. His 28 walks and 68 strikeouts are terrible and his 56 runs aren’t anything special. The combination of those stats with the Rockies mediocre year, does not add up to an MVP award.
Fielder has very similar stats to Holliday, but is lacking in nearly the same statistics. He leads the NL in home runs with 29 and is second in runs batted in. His .284 average places him in the middle of the NL. That is where the problems begin. His 41 walks and 72 strikeouts are as bad as Holliday just like his 62 runs. Overall, his stats are a bit better than Holliday’s stats, and the Brewers’ terrific season is a result of his hitting, but it is just one step below an MVP award.
Peavy has made the Padres a great team this year. He is second in ERA and Wins, and is first in strikeouts. The Padres offense has been horrendous this year, with only three players in double digits in home runs, two players over 50 RBI (at 51 and 52), and no players over a .280 batting average. To make a team with an offense that bad a division leader requires outstanding pitching and Peavy has provided the bulk of that. With 15 quality starts in 18 appearances, he has been as consistent as it comes. The ERA and Strikeouts speak for themselves to the unbelievable year he is having. The Padres would be below .500 without him, but with him, they lead the division.
AL Cy Young: This year has been a surprisingly good pitching year for the American League, and amongst all of the great pitchers, Dan Haren of the Oakland Athletics and his 2.30 ERA stand out. Josh Beckett of the Boston Red Sox and C.C. Sabathia of the Cleveland Indians both had great years as well, but a 2.30 ERA in the American League is too good.
Beckett was the unanimous leader for AL Cy Young throughout much of the season, and deservedly so. He is tied for first in wins and has given up only six home runs so far on the season. His 92 strikeout are good, especially compared to his 21 BBs. The Red Sox have the best record in baseball, and he was a big part of that. Of course, the Red Sox have one of the best offenses in baseball and that can contribute to the high win total. His 3.44 ERA is excellent and, like nearly every candidate in the American League this year, there is nothing bad. Dan Haren was just too good.
Sabathia’s stats mirror Beckett’s in many categories. They have the same number of wins and Sabathia’s ERA is 14 points higher than Beckett’s (3.58 and 3.44 respectively). The strikeouts and walks are even better for Sabathia who has 119 strikeouts and only 18 walks. He has given up 15 home runs and the 138 hits are 40 more than both Beckett and Haren. Besides those two faults, Sabathia has put the Indians 16 games over .500 and 1.5 games up in the Wild Card.
Haren may have pitched in a division with the worst offenses, but to put up a 2.30 ERA in the American League is just too good. He has two less wins than Sabathia and Beckett at 10-3 and he has given up 11 home runs. He has 101 strikeouts and 32 walks, the worst ratio between the three candidates. Unfortunately, for Beckett and Sabathia, the ERA stands out too much. It is more than a point less than the other two players. Haren even through 13 straight quality starts during the season. He was just dominant in every aspect of the game and completely deserving of the AL Cy Young.
NL Cy Young: Obviously not a big surprise here, since the NL MVP was a pitcher. Therefore, Jake Peavy also wins the Cy Young award. The Strikeouts and ERA combined with the Padres’ pathetic offense make Peavy an easy choice for Cy Young. For more stats, read back under the NL MVP section.
Those were the main awards every one cares about, but here is my list of top players at each position (i.e. my All Stars)
C: Victor Martinez
1B: Justin Morneau
2B: Jose Lopez
SS: Carlos Guillen
3B: Alex Rodriguez
OF: Magglio Ordonez
OF: Vladimir Guerrero
OF: Grady Sizemore
C: Russel Martin
1b: Prince Fielder
2B: Chase Utley
SS: Hanley Ramirez
3B: Miguel Cabrera
OF: Matt Holliday
OF: Barry Bonds
OF: Carlos Lee
Top Rookies got to Hideki Okajima in the AL and Hunter Pence in the NL
Top Relievers got to J.J. Putz in the AL and Takashi Saito in the NL
Comebacks of the Year go to Josh Beckett in the AL and Jake Peavy in the NLPlayoff
American League Division Series: Red Sox over Indians, Tigers over Angels
National League Division Series: Mets over Dodgers, Brewers over Braves
American League Championship Series: Red Sox over Tigers
National League Championship Series: Mets over Brewers
World Series: Red Sox over Mets