The Major League Baseball calendar has reached its midpoint, with the All-Star Game days away and most teams having played about 85 of their 162 games.
So in honor of the season being halfway over, we asked our baseball staff here at The Comeback to vote on which players deserved the following awards: AL Most Valuable Player, NL Most Valuable Player, AL Cy Young, NL Cy Young, AL Least Valuable Player, NL Least Valuable Player.
Here are the results:
AL MVP: Aaron Judge
Others receiving votes: George Springer
Two weeks into the season “Aaron Judge won’t keep this up”
One month into the season “Aaron Judge won’t keep this up”
Two months into the season “Aaron Judge won’t keep this up”
Now: I’m a believer.
Judge hasn’t just been good, he’s been amazing. The AL leading 29-home-runs stand out for a reason, but a really underrated skill of Judge is his ability to get on base. Despite striking out 104 times in 290 at bats, Judge has a league-best .449 OBP. Pair that with a league-best .697 slugging percentage, and he’s having the best offensive season since Barry Bonds. Oh yeah, he’s a rookie too! I didn’t know much about Judge entering 2017 season, but now I’m convinced I’m watching the start of a legendary career.
– Liam McGuire
NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt and Bryce Harper
Others receiving votes: Joey Votto, Daniel Murphy
Goldschmidt leads NL hitters with a 4.2 WAR, ranks among the top 10 with 19 homers and sixth with a .315 batting average, and if you still dig RBI, he leads the majors with 66. But Harper’s 3.5 WAR and 20 homers rank in the NL top five, and his OPS is second. He also plays some of the best right field in the league, according to FanGraphs’ Ultimate Zone Rating. That might give him the nod over Goldschmidt. Maybe it even comes down to star power. Yet you could also point to the D-Backs having a better record and Goldschmidt playing on a less star-studded roster. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be a wrong choice.
– Ian Casselberry
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
Others receiving votes: Lance McCullers
There was no other choice here. Chris Sale has nearly a two-win edge on any other pitcher in the American League (5.1 fWAR for Sale, 3.2 for Chris Archer, the Junior Circuit’s second-most valuable pitcher). He leads the American League with 120 2/3 innings pitched, is second in ERA at 2.61, and leads all of baseball with 166 strikeouts (compared to only 22 walks, giving him an AL-best 7.55 strikeout to walk rate). You can’t get much more dominant than that.
– Joe Lucia
NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer
Others receiving votes: Clayton Kershaw
The choice for the National League midseason Cy Young came down to two pitchers: reigning winner Max Scherzer, or long-time NL kingpin Clayton Kershaw. Scherzer has an edge of nearly a full win in fWAR (4.2, compared to 3.3 for Kershaw), but Kershaw has thrown 2 2/3 more innings (in one extra start) and has a superior 13-2 win-loss record (compared to 10-5 for Scherzer, in case you think that somehow makes him a better pitcher). But Scherzer has the edge in ERA (an MLB-best 1.94 compared to 2.19 for Kershaw), and has struck out an NL-high 163 strikeouts (compared to “only” 146 for Kershaw). This battle clearly isn’t over yet, but I would bet on one of the two hoisting the trophy when all is said and done.
– Joe Lucia
AL LVP: Troy Tulowitzki
Others receiving votes: Pablo Sandoval, Sam Dyson, Carlos Santana, Tim Anderson, Alex Gordon, Albert Pujols, Mike Napoli
Our staff came up with a wide range of candidates for this ignominious “honor,” but Tulowitzki stands out from the rest. The former All-Star shortstop has career lows in every offensive rate stat, with a .242/.294/.368 slash line that is 27 percent below league average after park adjustment. For a Blue Jays team hampered by injuries and aging, Tulo was supposed to be a stalwart presence. Instead he has been one of the worst players in the league.
– Alex Putterman
NL LVP: Carlos Gonzalez
Others receiving votes: Kyle Schwarber, Bartolo Colon, Jose Reyes, San Francisco Giants starting pitchers
While the Rockies have jumped out to a surprising start (which has slowed thanks to a recent skid), Gonzalez has been one of the worst hitters in the league. His .644 OPS would be poor in any ballpark, but in Coors Field it’s embarrassing. Gonzalez has gone from an above average hitter to an unplayable one right when the Rockies need him most.
– Alex Putterman