MLB Midseason Awards: Baseball’s Studs From The First Half (American League)

The first half of the season is all in the books, and it’s time to hand out some mid-season awards. We kick things off with the American League, with the National League coming out tomorrow. 

The American league have had plenty of break-out performances, like those of Mark Trumbo and teammate Mike Trout. The stars who should be slugging, in fact are, like Josh Hamilton, Miguel Cabrera, and Robinson Cano. A few studs have had some comeback seasons, Adam Dunn and Edwin Encarnacion, just to name a couple.

The second half of the season will yield some incredible results, with Hamilton and Jose Bautista on pace for 50+ homers, Trout on pace for 60 steals, and Justin Verlander set to strike out 250 batters. Let’s dig in and see who’s taking home some mid-season hardware.

AL Rookie of The Year

Winner: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Runner-Up: Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston Red Sox
Dark Horse: Yu Darvish, SP, Texas Rangers

Middlebrooks gave the Sox a reason to deal Youkilis.

Trout has been on fire since getting the call up to the bigs on April 28th, hitting a robust .339, with 9 home runs, 51 runs scored, 33 RBI’s, and a league leading 22 swipes. Although Trout has only played in 57 games with the Angels this year, he has an incredible 25 multi-hit games, and continues to be one of the best table-setters in the majors.

If anyone can catch Trout, it’s Middlebrooks. There’s a reason Red Sox Nation was so confident in trading away fan favorite Kevin Youkilis, and that reason is the young, hot hitting third baseman. Just like Trout, Middlebrooks was called up after the start of the season, and his numbers look sparkling spread to a 162 game average (33 HR, 124 RBI, 85 Runs).

Let’s not count out Yu Darvish either, the fireballer for the Texas Rangers. We all know how the voters like wins, and Darvish has already racked up 10 of them, and in the electric Rangers offense, 20 wins is hardly out of the question. If Darvish can keep his walks down, and end up north of 200 K’s, he’s got a shot to bring down Trout and Middlebrooks.

AL Cy Young
Winner: Jered Weaver, SP, Los Angeles Angels of Aneheim
Runner-Up: Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers
Dark Horse: Chris Sale, SP, Chicago White Sox

Oh, and there was that whole “no-hitter” thing…

Jared Weaver has been incredible this season, pitching his way into the front of the Cy Young debate. He’s rattled off a 10-1 record, with an incredible 1.96 ERA. What’s shocking is that Weaver is doing it without a large amount of strikeouts like his counterpart Justin Verlander. Since his return from the disabled list, Weaver has been totally unhittable, with 27 2/3 IP, 16 hits, and only one earned run.  If Weaver can close out the season in any fashion similar to the first half, the award is all his.

Justin Verlander, the American League MVP in 2011, is still pitching like an absolute stud. He trails Weaver by only one win, with nine, and dominates him in strikeouts, by nearly 50. The numbers that matter most however, ERA and WHIP, both trail the Angels ace. If the Detroit Tigers can make more of a push in the second half, than Verlander can close the gap.

Chris Sale, taken in the 2010 MLB Draft was originally penned as a starter this season for the Chi Sox, and after moving to the bullpen, and back to the rotation, in the same week, he’s been fantastic on the bump. The only thing that might stop the hot southpaw will be an innings cap. There hasn’t been a definitive innings cap placed on the young pitcher, but the White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said Sale will face one. Whether or not that all plays out remains to be seen. Even so, Sale has earned himself a one way ticket OUT of the bullpen. For good.

AL MVP
Winner: Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers
Runner-Up: Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers
Dark Horse: Mike Trout, OF, LAA

If Hamilton can stay healthy, the award is already won.

Josh Hamilton, when he’s healthy, is the best player in the game today. Unfortunately, he isn’t always in the lineup due to a multitude of injuries that have plagued Hamilton over the years. Only missing eight contests thus far, Hamilton is on pace to play in 150 games, which would be his most since 2008. The power is incredible, putting 27 out of the park, helping him reach a league high 75 RBI. If Hamilton stays healthy

For Cabrera to win the Most Valuable Player Award, the Tigers will certainly have to perform much better in the second half. Cabrera, for what it’s worth, is perhaps the only reason the Tigers are not further back than they are. With a slash line of .324-18-71, he’s on pace to set plenty of career highs. 

With Trout hitting lead-off for the Angels lineup, he will quickly catch up to Hamilton in at bats (Trout: 258, Hamilton: 299). His numbers, as I mentioned earlier, are certainly good enough to get MVP votes. There is always a chance that Trout slows down as pitchers begin to figure him out, but scouts around the league have always touted the young outfielder for his ability to adjust, and spray the ball to all sides of the field. Odds are he’ll garner a few MVP votes, the question is, how many?

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