Midseason MLB Award Predictions

AL MVP:

Sean Biagiotti: Aaron Judge

With Mike Trout out of the race for MVP (as of right now) due to injury, the MVP title is now Judge’s to lose. He ranks in the top two for home runs (30), RBI (66), and batting average (.329). The trio of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer all are having terrific years, but it’s hard to ignore what Judge has done in his rookie year in New York. But keep an eye out for Trout, because he is baseball’s best player and may make a run at Judge for the award.

Charles Lian: Aaron Judge

I really didn’t want to do this (the Mets fan in me), but it’s hard to ignore what Judge has done. Currently leading in two out of the three Triple Crown categories, I think he has a legit shot at getting it, and would be the first since Miguel Cabrera in 2012 to do so – and yes, Miggy won the MVP that year. I could go on with the accolades; not only has he lit up the stat sheet, he has also reinvigorated a Yankees fan base searching for an icon post-Jeter. I can personally attest to this, given the sheer number of Judge shirts I’ve seen around Yankee Stadium. Mike Trout was terribly unlucky not to pull the MVP and ROY double in 2012, but Judge is definitely the favorite to do so. Trout (when he returns from injury) will still be a presence just because he’s Trout and it’s hard to ignore the accomplishments of the Red Sox’s Mookie Betts and the Astros’ trio. The MVP is still Judge’s to lose.

Parth Thakkar: Carlos Correa

Along with the talents of Jose Altuve and George Springer, Correa has seemed like a natural leader for the Houston Astros. His numbers reflect this, too, as he’s hitting .320 with 18 HR and 60 RBI and leading the Astros to 59-28 record. For these reasons, he should be the 2017 AL midseason MVP over a certain Aaron Judge.

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Shravan Balaji: Aaron Judge

This guy has been phenomenal, hitting for both power and contact, leading the way for a revived Yankees team (albeit one that has been struggling as of late). Judge is the most celebrated Yankee rookie since Derek Jeter, and he is part of a uniquely young, rising Yankee squad that is still in playoff contention. Judge himself has a shot at the elusive Triple Crown, being only the second player to achieve that since 1967. He’s the MVP, no doubt.

NL MVP:

Sean Biagiotti: Paul Goldschmidt

Goldschmidt has been playing like an MVP for the past five seasons, and this is the year that he will finally win it. He is in the Top 10 in batting average (.312), home runs (20), and RBI’s (67). Add that to a golden glove and he is an all-around stud. With the Diamondbacks finally being a good team, Goldschmidt will take home his first MVP.

Charles Lian: Paul Goldschmidt

Yes, I understand Justin Turner is leading the league with an insane .377 batting average, but he also missed 2 weeks because of injury and just barely qualified for the batting title. If he maintains that for the rest of the season (doubtful), it’ll be hard NOT to reward that, especially on a Dodgers team that should be in the NLCS. Joey Votto is having his usual above-average season (leading the league in offensive WAR, OBP and SLG) but being on a really bad Reds team hurts his chances. I still wanted to give him a shout out though. Same for Arenado, who led the league the last two seasons in RBIs (130+) and is once again on track to do that, albeit he plays at Coors. I think that hurts him (even though I personally think the Coors effect is overrated), but he is still incredibly underrated because he plays for the Rockies who were irrelevant until this year (I think they’re for real). Anybody on the Nationals could win it – Harper, Murphy, Rendon, Zimmerman (and I think they’ll all finish in the top ten), but I think they’ll end up taking away votes from each other. This is the most dangerous lineup from the top down in the NL and as much as it pains me, I think they finally break through to the WS, especially if they fix their bullpen issues.

Now the real pick: Goldy. Similar to Votto in his track record of consistency, but the D’Backs are actually good this year (after last season’s disaster)! Currently tied with Justin Turner for highest WAR amongst position players, Goldschmidt plays every game, ranks top ten in every offensive category you can think of and plays a golden glove-caliber first base- and he steals, too! Pull up any advanced metric and Goldschmidt doesn’t have a negative next to any of his stats. Best player on a contending team, and I’ll admit that this pick is a little nod to his exemplary contributions over the years.

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Parth Thakkar: Bryce Harper

Much like Correa, Harper has shined along with teammates Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman, and carries a natural leadership talent. Harper is hitting .321 with 20 HR and 64 RBI, and is leading the Nationals to a 51-35 record, and yet again, another potential playoff run. For these reasons, Bryce Harper should win the 2017 NL midseason MVP award.

Shravan Balaji: Justin Turner

An odd pick, but between his advanced stats and his insane batting average (.377!), he’s the guy. A leader for the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers, it’s hard to think of many players who deserve this award more than he does. Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, and even Daniel Murphy deserve consideration for the award, and it’s certainly not as clear-cut as the AL race, but Turner’s phenomenal season deserves the credit that it is due.

AL CY Young

Sean Biagiotti: Chris Sale

Sale has been absolutely dominant for the Red Sox this year. His is 11-4 record with a 2.75 ERA and .90 WHIP is incredible. Jason Vargas may be leading the AL in wins and ERA, but Sale’s league-leading 178 Ks and WHIP show how deadly he has been on the mound this year.

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Charles Lian: Chris Sale

Probably the second easiest choice behind ROY (we’ll get to that but we all know who it is), Sale has not regressed at all since his headlining offseason move. He has pitched like the ace he was advertised to be and is single-handedly keeping the Red Sox in the thick of the playoff race (no matter how little run support they give him). He’s also at 178 strikeouts, which is just absurd if it wasn’t for Scherzer. I don’t think anybody’s even close to the caliber of Sale for the Cy, but special shoutout to Jason Vargas and Ervin Santana for having solid seasons themselves –  longtime journeymen-turned All Stars who could still be moving at the deadline.

Parth Thakkar: Chris Sale

Sale has been undeniably lethal for the first half of the 2017 season. Sure, his record and ERA may not be as good as Jason Vargas’, but his nasty fastball-slider combination has absolutely stifled hitters this season, earning him a league leading 178 SO, .90 WHIP, .200 BAA, and thus, the AL midseason Cy Young award.

Shravan Balaji: Chris Sale

As much as this Yankee fan hates to say it, Sale is one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball and has had a terrific season for the AL East leading Boston Red Sox. With a 2.59 ERA, Sale has anchored one of the most dominant rotations in the game.

NL CY Young:

Sean Biagiotti: Max Scherzer

The winner of this award is going to be Kershaw or Scherzer. These two are in a different league from the rest of the pitchers in the NL. How do you choose which one deserves the award? Simple. If you were playing in game seven of the World Series, which one would you want to start for your team? Right now, for me, it’s Scherzer. He has been lights out for Washington this year with a 2.10 ERA and .78 WHIP. And he has the second most strikeouts in the majors behind Sale. I’m not saying Kershaw wouldn’t win you the game; he probably would. But right now, Max Scherzer is the pitcher you would want in a winner-take-all game – and that’s why he gets it over Kershaw.

Charles Lian: Max Scherzer

Two horse race and I don’t even think anybody else is close to touching Scherzer and Kershaw. The front runner is currently Scherzer just for his pure dominance. I hope you were paying attention to the ticker at the ASG where Scherzer has managed to have a better ERA (2.61), WHIP (0.78), and K/9 (12.1) rate at the break than this point last year. AND he won the Cy Young last year. He’s also 27 Ks away from 200 for the season, and realistically he’ll have that before July ends. Kershaw’s got somewhat of a leg up in some advanced metrics but the argument could even be made that Scherzer’s a solid MVP candidate with his league leading WAR. Back to back Cys for Max and it should be an easy ride to get there.

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Parth Thakkar: Clayton Kershaw

Consistency has been the name of the game for Kershaw. Once again, the southpaw has produced amazing numbers (13-2, 2.19 ERA), earning him, in my opinion, the NL CY Young midseason award. Don’t be surprised, however, if other people go with Max Scherzer for this accolade.

Shravan Balaji: Max Scherzer

I first saw him pitch as a Tiger against my Yankees in 2012, and this guy is the real deal. Scherzer has pitched phenomenally for the NL East-leading Nationals, who hope to finally break out of their playoff rut and win the Pennant this year. Behind his arm, they certainly have a fighting chance.

AL Rookie of the Year:

Sean Biagiotti: Aaron Judge

He could get hurt for the rest of the year and still win this award. That’s how far ahead of every other rookie this young man is.

Charles Lian: Aaron Judge

Easiest choice, if it’s not unanimous then I question the voters. Same reasons as above, and not even close for this one. Benintendi came into the year as the favorite and has had a decent season, but Judge could win the season award based on just his first half alone.

Parth Thakkar: Aaron Judge

25 years old. 6’7”, 282 lbs; a massive physical stature. A .330 BA, with 30 HR, and 66 RBI. On top of that, he leads the MLB in runs scored, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. Oh, and he just broke Joe Dimaggio’s franchise record for home runs hit by a rookie. ‘Nuff said.

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Shravan Balaji: Aaron Judge

See Above.

NL Rookie of the Year:

Sean Biagiotti: Cody Bellinger

This race is a little closer than its AL counterpart, but not by much. The Dodger rookie is killing pitchers this season. He was called up in May and still has 25 home runs this season, which is good for second in the National League. Bellinger, like Judge, doesn’t have much competition for the award this year.

Charles Lian: Cody Bellinger

Only knock against Bellinger is he didn’t get called up until a month into the season, but the kid’s already got 25 HRs and even came up with a decent showing in the derby. He’s so good that Adrian Gonzalez went down with an injury and can realistically just take the regular season off and come back as a lethal postseason pinch-hitter. Or just slot Bellinger in RF because he can play there too. I don’t think anybody’s close to touching him, but you can make a strong case for the Rockies’ trio of arms and I sincerely hope they don’t burn out (they remind me of the Mets just a couple years ago). Speaking of the Mets, I just want to give a quick shout out to T.J. Rivera for finally being able to lock down a place on the Mets roster and filling in wherever he’s needed. He’s got relatively no shot at ROY, but with all the injuries the Mets have had, I appreciate unknown role players contributing. This was my one way of sneaking the Mets in. While we’re on the subject, I think Conforto and Gsellman should get some credit too (okay I’m done).

Parth Thakkar: Cody Bellinger

Bellinger is only 21 years of age, and in just 68 games, he’s hit 24 homers and drove in 56, helping lead the Dodgers to a 59-29 record. He’s the only rookie that seems to be standing out in the NL, making him a ‘no-brainer’ for the NL ROTY mid-season award.

Shravan Balaji: Cody Bellinger

A power hitter leading the NL in HRs coming into the All-Star Break, he’s a bright young talent who is a valuable contributor for the Dodgers. The question for him is not whether he will win ROY, but in what fashion he’ll do so.

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AL Manager of the Year:

Sean Biagiotti: A.J. Hinch

Hinch has done an incredible job of managing this young Astros team. He has been able to develop players such as Springer, Correa and Bregman into great MLB players. Along with the veterans he has on this roster, Hinch has done a terrific job of leading this team to first place in the division.

Charles Lian: Paul Molitor

Incredibly, the Twins were the worst team in baseball only a year ago and now they’re competing for a playoff spot. I eventually think they’ll fade and start selling off some assets, but the long-term future is very bright, particularly with the developments of possible MVP candidates Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. Much credit goes to Paul Molitor who went into this season with no expectations and has already performed as well as anybody can imagine. We can’t ignore A.J. Hinch’s contributions with the league leading Astros (who have just blown everybody out of the water), but I attribute that much more to their offseason acquisitions. Not to discount what Hinch has done (they did make the playoffs last year too), but people often undervalue the importance of veteran leadership. Yes, the kids are great (and they will only get better), but Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Josh Reddick have brought a clubhouse-changing winning culture and I think that’s the reason the Astros can go all the way.

Parth Thakkar: A.J. Hinch

Hinch has been with the Astros organization for about two years now, and has had to deal with turning a young, inexperienced squad into a playoff-contending team. After two mediocre seasons, Hinch has been able to transform players such as Jose Altuve, George Springer and Carlos Correa, as well the whole Astros roster into an AL best 60-28 team.

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Shravan Balaji: A.J. Hinch

Though it might be corny to take the league leading team’s manager, there’s no doubt that he deserves it. With the way the Astros have been playing (historically great), he deserves massive credit for turning around the fortunes of this perennially bad team, and his team poses a serious threat to whomever they might play.

NL Manager of the Year:

Sean Biagiotti: Torey Lovullo

Lovullo has done an amazing job in leading this Diamondbacks team to a winning record. Last year, the D’backs were a disappointing team for the talent that they had, and Lovullo has turned them around into the team many thought they could be. Obviously, he has the magic touch with this team because they haven’t had a winning record since 2011 and were just 69-93 last season, with a very similar roster to what they have this season.

Charles Lian: Torey Lovullo

Realistically, most years this award is just given to the man leading the most surprising team, and this year is no different. Stolen from the Red Sox, Lovullo has turned around a disappointing D’backs team into legitimate playoff contenders. Managing expectations was part of that (for a team with a big payroll, and bigger aspirations), and getting the best out of the rotation is arguably his most important contribution.

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Parth Thakkar: Torey Lovullo

The D’backs have not had a winning record since 2011, so being 53-34, and having potential MVP candidate in Paul Goldschmidt in the mix is definitely the works of Torey Lovullo’s outstanding management and development.

Shravan Balaji: Bud Black

Seriously, the Rockies and the NL West are legit. What Black has done in turning around this franchise deserves massive acclaim, and Black’s work here is MOY worthy.

Biggest Surprise:

Sean Biagiotti: The Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are the biggest let-down this season for me. They should be at least 5 games up on the Brewers but are 5.5 back instead. They are young, have incredible talent, and a good rotation. Chicago should be destroying teams like they did last season. This franchise was set up for a dynasty with of all the young talent they accrued and displayed last season, but still seem hungover from their Championship.

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Charles Lian: Parity…and Disparity?

12 out of the 15 American League teams are five games within their division leaders, so as much as we want to lock things up, it’s still anybody’s game in the junior circuit. Even the three non-contenders (though Detroit still thinks they are) are still within reach at 5.5-6 games out even if they are “tanking” – looking at you, Oakland and Chicago. Consequently, more than half of the National League teams are out of the race and are already actively prepping for next year. The Nationals have a 7 game lead in the NL East which honestly should be double if their bullpen didn’t blow every lead they have. Once they acquire their closer, the regular season will be a cakewalk for them and they could conceivably take it off. Extra upsetting since the Mets were supposed to be neck-and-neck with the Nats for the division (and you thought I was done with my Mets plugs). The disparity between the two leagues isn’t as big an issue as, say the (ahem) NBA perhaps, given how long the MLB season is, but it’s worth looking at for the future. If the situation does get out of hand, I trust that new commissioner Rob Manfred (who has already made massive improvements to the game) will find a swift solution.

Parth Thakkar: Dismal Downfall of Popular Pitchers, Resurgence of Underdog Teams

Rick Porcello in 2016: 22-4, AL CY Young winner. In 2017, 4-10, 5.01 ERA. Masahiro Tanaka in 2016: 14-4, 3.07 ERA. In 2017, 7-7, 5.25 ERA. Johnny Cueto, Madison Bumgarner, and Dallas Keuchel: all injured. As a result of these pitchers’ poor performances, underdog teams, like the D’backs, Brewers and Rockies have been able to rise to the occasion, oust the popular teams, and enter their names in playoff contention.

Shravan Balaji: The Cubs

The Cubs’ struggles….and how they STILL might make the playoffs given how god-awful the NL Central is. This is a World Series-caliber team…but they need to play better than this.

Bold Prediction:

Sean Biagiotti: The Rockies will fall off a cliff

The Colorado Rockies currently have a 52-39 record which is good for the second wild-card spot. They have a 7.5 game-lead on the closest threat and are in striking distance of the Diamondbacks for the first wild-card spot. But they aren’t going to get it. They won’t even make the playoffs this year, because they are going to have a horrendous second half and miss out on the wild-card. The pitching has been a bit of a surprise for them, allowing them to stay in games and outscore their opponents – But I don’t see their pitching or hitting keeping up this pace, and I see them falling out of contention in September – opening up a spot for a team in the central or the east.

Charles Lian: The Most Active Trade Deadline in the last 5 years

Because of the aforementioned playoff situation, we are going to be looking at A LOT more buyers than sellers just because I think you can make the case that any of the teams in the AL could decide to stick around – many of them will still think they’re in it even though they’re not. Also, a lot of impending free agents will surely to be looking to get on playoff teams, and there are plenty of veterans available. In the past few years, we haven’t seen a flurry of activity with the number of big deals significantly lower. This year will be different – especially with the Jose Quintana acquisition by the Cubs; with everybody in an arms race, literally. There are tons of relievers available, and in a year where home runs are taking the stage, you can still never have enough pitching (hey prospective teams, Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins are very much available – last Mets pitch I promise). I think we see some more big names being moved (Robertson to the Nats is the most likely) – and I think that the Yankees eventually pull the trigger and take Sonny Grab/Yonder Alonso from the A’s. Honestly, what do they need Clint Frazier for when you can get Harper and Trout in a couple years? I’d put Verlander leaving the Tigers at 50/50 and there will definitely be a name that gets traded that NOBODY saw coming. Hmmm, just for fun, I’ll throw out Josh Donaldson. Enjoy the second half of the season, we’re in for a wild finish.

Parth Thakkar: An Upsetting End to the Astros’ Season

The Astros may be 59-28, and may hold a serious playoff run in them under the wonderful management of A.J. Hinch at the end of the first half of the season, but that does not mean that they will continue this way. I see an upsetting end to the Astros’ season, mainly because they are still an inexperienced squad when it comes to playoff baseball and crunch-time situations. Don’t be surprised if the Astros’ playoffs are ended by a team like the Red Sox, the Indians, or the Dodgers.

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Shravan Balaji: New Homerun King

Aaron Judge breaks the REAL home run record….Roger Maris’ record of 61 homers way back in ‘61.

 

 

 

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