At the midway point of this baseball season, it is easy to tell this is far from a normal season for Major League Baseball. The season has only been going on for three months but we have seen enough highlights and lowlights to fill any baseball fan’s craving for more. We witnessed perfection in San Francisco and disappointment in Philadelphia. Young stars who were projected to be stars of the future became stars of the present before our eyes as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper both made their All-Star teams. And the usual cellar-dwellers in Pittsburgh and Washington found themselves on top of their divisions at the break. This year has had much to cheer about and here are my midseason awards/top moments:
Biggest Surprise: Pittsburgh Pirates
Even the biggest of Pittsburgh fans would not believe it if you told them three months ago the Bucs would be leading the NL Central. The core of young players, led by Andrew McCutchen, have not only exceeded expectations but are playing great team baseball. Things haven’t been this way in 20 years, and you know what? It is great for the game.
Biggest disappointment: Philadelphia Phillies
Sure, a case can be made they were without their number three and four hitters and their ace pitcher for most of the season, but, seriously, I do not remember watching such a fundamentally unsound team play. Mental errors and the inability to play small ball have put the Phillies in a huge hole that will be extremely difficult to climb out of.
Rookies of the Year: Mike Trout and Bryce Harper
You know the deal by now. Trout plays like Mantle and Harper is the greatest thing to come to baseball since Ken Griffey Jr. I cannot argue. They both have been better than I expected.
NL MVP: Andrew McCutchen
McCutchen not only stayed with a team most players would try to escape from, he has helped lead the team to first place and an actual playoff run. He has stepped up and led a group of mostly young players, and the way that he plays is a joy to watch.
AL MVP: Josh Hamilton
It is still up in the air for me. I could have taken Mike Trout here, but for now, I see the award still going to Hamilton. However, if the Angels end up jumping in front of the Rangers, expect Trout to win not only the ROY award but also the MVP.
NL CY Young: R.A Dickey
I really do not care for the knuckleball, but to see someone master his craft the way that Dickey has so far is awesome. Gio Gonzalez is having a great year and Matt Cain has been perfect once, but I’m still going with the Mets’ unexpected ace.
AL CY Young: Jered Weaver
Weaver is the first pitcher since Sany Koufax to have two years in a row with a sub-2.00 ERA and at least 10 wins. That’s good enough for me.
I expect the second half will have its own surprises. Some teams will fall in the standings and some teams will rise. Maybe another pitcher will throw a perfect game or another batter will hit four home runs. No matter what happens, the rest of this season will be exciting. You can count on it.