It’s that time of year again. We are at the All Star Break, which signifies the halfway point of the 2016 baseball season. It also means you need an arbitrary article telling you who the award winners for the first half are. Here is said arbitrary article, but with a twist. I have asked four other people whose opinions I respect (albeit Twitter folk, so who knows if they really are smart) to give me their choices as well. I’ll list their selections and comment on why I picked who I did.
So who are “they?” Luke Jett (@LukeJett), Cooper (@RushingBaseball), AJ Walsh (@ajwalshCubs), and @tinia_flab. All four are Cubs fans so there may or may not be bias. One quick note: When I sent the email to collect ballots, AJ sent me a brief comment on each pick. Those will be below my comments.
So what awards were voted on? The big four with a fifth as a contingency. We had Cy Young, MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year. The contingency was based on MVP vote; if the MVP selection was a pitcher, I had the guys pick a Hank Aaron winner, which is the award for the best hitter. Alright, let’s get to it.
|NL Cy Young||Kershaw||Kershaw||Kershaw/Fernandez||Kershaw||Kershaw|
|AL Cy Young||Carrasco||Salazar||Sale||Sale||Kluber|
NL MVP, NL Cy Young: So you can see that TF and I were dorks and picked a pitcher for NL MVP and Cy Young. Here’s my justification: Kershaw has been historically good during the first half. We all know about his K/BB ratio and how absolutely out of this world good it is, but here’s what puts him over the top of Kris Bryant for me. When you think of what he is doing for his team, he’s basically giving them the automatic shot to win every fifth day. Few pitchers in the history of baseball have been that good. The Dodgers are 14-2 in Kershaw starts and in those 16 starts he’s allowed a total of 24 earned runs. TWENTY-FOUR. As for the rest of the season, he needs to get back and stay healthy for a shot at the full season MVP but for the first half of the 2016 MLB season Clayton Kershaw is my MVP and Cy Young.
AJ’s – Kris Bryant. The defensive value is just great, but so is the potential to hit .300 with 50 home runs.
If Clayton Kershaw can avoid an extended stay on the DL, it’s [got to] be him. But if not, I’m going with Jose Fernandez. Both guys are standout aces on teams that would be nowhere near the playoffs without them. If they face off in the Wild Card, the winner gets my vote.
AL MVP: It’s Mike Trout. He’s been the most valuable player by fWAR but his triple slash as of 7/7 is insane also: .321/.426/.571. FOUR TWENTY-SIX OBP. That is what we call good. He’s got good speed (15 stolen bases) and walks almost as much as he strikes out. Four out of the five votes mean he’s clearly won the spot in our minds. Oh, but of course someone had to screw with that. Said person had words to share as to why.
AJ – Ian Desmond. I think stat heads like to look up the top WAR value and go with that, but where would the Rangers be without this guy? His BABIP is likely due for some regression but I think this is as justifiable a pick as any.
AL Cy Young: Three different Indians starting pitchers are represented in the voting. That’s how good Salazar, Kluber, and Carrasco have been. But the ultimate question is “Why Kluber?” I looked at the best pitchers in the AL and narrowed it down to the three Indian pitchers and Chris Sale. I discounted Sale because he’s had some real stinkers. So then I looked at Salazar, Kluber, and Carrasco. The numbers are so close but the ultimate tie breaker was DRA. Kluber has the edge over Carrasco with a DRA of 2.55. Salazar is at 2.72 and Carrasco is at 3.29.
AJ- Chris Sale. I don’t think I really need to explain this.
NL Rookie of the Year: This was unanimous and truly needs little analysis. Based on fWAR, Seager has been the 8th best player in baseball. He’s been that good.
AJ: Corey Seager. Easiest selection of all and could very easily elbow his way into MVP talk.
AL Rookie of the Year: This was the hardest pick of all. I took a look at the FanGraphs table for AL rookies and was kind of shocked at how bad the crop was. Two stuck out: Nomar Mazara and my ultimate pick, Tyler Naquin. Why Naquin? He hits for average and power, plays good defense, and has been a key piece for the Indians this season.
AJ: Nomar Mazara. Has been huge for Texas this year.
NL, AL Manager of the Year: There’s little breakdown here, mostly just an opinion. I went with Francona in the AL because he’s led the Indians to this stunning first half performance. Most people thought that this team would be in 3rd or 4th, not in first place by six games. Similar with Maddon. Everyone knew the Cubs were going to be good, but 25-5 to start the season? And not to mention that crazy game where he put three pitchers in right field etc.
AJ: Terry Francona in the AL. How is this Indians team scoring runs, much less winning 60% of their games? Joe Maddon in NL. Moving Bryant, Baez, and even Contreras around the field. Challenging rookies and relievers to deliver in big spots. There’s no manager you’d rather have in baseball.
Hank Aaron: I get to give this to Kris Bryant because I’m a noob and picked Kershaw for MVP. Been one of the best hitters in baseball and the best NL hitter.
That just about wraps it up for the first half awards. What would your ballot look like? Do you agree/disagree with us? Let me know. For now, enjoy this break!