We've already passed the half-way point in the season (time flies!), and we haven't really delved into awards too much on the site lately. The original BP, Bill Petti, directed us towards a quality piece that he wrote for Amazin' Avenue recently arguing in favor of Jose Reyes as the NL MVP, and below you'll get the privilege of watching me grapple with that proposition. So if this year's mid-season awards are your version of a tall, frosty ___________, call me the bartender. Except, don't actually call me that. I'd almost rather be called The Custodian.
Also to note, I won't be making Rookie of the Year selections here. It simply doesn't make sense to make these kinds of decisions when the Rookie of the Year candidates often don't see their first MLB appearances until May or June. On this date last year, 2010 NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey had played in just 32 games- it just makes sense to hold off until the candidates are a bit clearer. Just look at Dustin Ackley- he could easily win it, but he's only played in 15 games so far, so he's obviously not the mid-season ROTY.
American League MVP
Winner: Jose Bautista, Toronto
You know, he's just been too damn good not to select him. The Blue Jays may stand at 42-45, over ten games out of first place and just four games from the cellar, but nobody could dare blame Bautista for their struggles. He's been ridiculously good: he currently leads the AL in homers, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, wOBA and WAR. By practically any metric that you use, he's been the premier player in the league, to the extent that you can basically ignore how much the rest of the Blue Jays roster has struggled this season. Bautista may not be able to lead the Jays to the playoffs, but he can lead himself to an MVP trophy.
The Others: Adrian Gonzalez, Boston; Curtis Granderson, New York
National League MVP
Winner: Jose Reyes, New York
I'll put Reyes here, but with the caveat that I won't expect him to be here come autumn. He's been an absolute force so far this season, batting over .350 with power, speed and quality defense at shortstop... I'm just not so sure he can sustain all of this. He's a high-BABIP hitter, but not a .375 BABIP hitter, and you wonder if he'll lose some of those extra-base hits into the gaps once the BABIP goes down. He's firmly entrenched himself as an elite player once again, but with the Mets looking shaky as contenders, he's only the MVP if he's clearly been the best player in the league- I think he's at that point right now, but I'm skeptical that he'll still be in the same position in a few months.
The Others: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles; Andrew McCutchen, Ridiculous All Star Omissions; Ryan Braun, Milwaukee; Shane Victorino, Philadelphia
American League Cy Young
Winner: Justin Verlander, Detroit
Verlander doesn't have the best ERA (Jered Weaver), FIP (Weaver) or xFIP (James Shields), but I'd argue that he's been the best pitcher on the AL circuit this year. He leads AL pitchers in WAR according to Baseball Reference, and while he's in third using FanGraphs WAR, the difference is practically negligible. But Verlander is by far the best pitcher on a contender's staff, and he does precisely what you expect from an ace: efficient and often dominant performances, day-in, day-out. He's consistent, and frankly, he even looks like an ace, with a monster mid-90's heater and a ridiculous set of secondary pitches. You could pick someone else and I probably wouldn't go all crazy face on you, but Verlander is my choice at this juncture.
The Others: CC Sabathia, New York; Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, Los Angeles; James Shields and David Price, Tampa Bay; Felix Hernandez, Seattle
National League Cy Young
Winner: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia
This choice was a bit easier than the AL's Cy Young. Cole Hamels has actually pitched roughly as well as Halladay on a per-inning basis, but the former Blue Jay has been able to push a bit further into games than Hamels, lending to some additional value. Halladay is like Verlander, one of those unique guys than can combine efficiency with an ability to dominate. We've had some great pitching performances so far in the NL this year, but Halladay has just been so thoroughly great that it's hard to hand the award off to someone else, especially someone that wears the same uniform. Sometimes, you'll see two star players on an elite team split MVP votes, thereby leaving an outside player to sneak up and win the award- you have to wonder if that could happen with Halladay, Hamels and Cliff Lee this year given how well the three have pitched, but Halladay has been slightly better than everyone else.
The Others: Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, Philadelphia; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles; Tim Lincecum, San Francisco