MLB Week 13: Happy 4th, 1st Half-Awards, & Yankee Report

1st Half Awards: Happy July 4th! It doesn’t get much better than celebrating Independence Day with some baseball and barbecuing. The season is half-way through, but the official 2nd half doesn’t begin until after the All-Star game on July 11th. With that said, it’s time to give out some 1st half hardware. 4th of July FlagOutfielder Mike Trout was having the best season of his career before thumb surgery, opening the door for Aaron Judge to steal the AL MVP Award. He’s easily my mid-season AL MVP, currently leading the AL in Runs, AVG, HR, RBI, BB, OBP, SLG, OPS+, and TB. This puts him not only on pace to win the AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP, but also the Triple Crown – no rookie has ever won the Triple Crown, ever. For the second half, it’ll be difficult for the 6’7 slugger to remain at the top of the AVG leader board, which might be his only obstacle to winning the Triple Crown. He’s also officially confirmed participation in the Home Run Derby, which will be must-see TV…in the NL, so far it’s a three horse race for MVP. You can almost flip a coin between slugging first baseman Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, and outfielder Bryce Harper. Votto and Goldschmidt current edge Harper by the slightest of statistical margins, and it really comes down to how much value to place on players playing on contenders like Goldschmidt, versus players on non-contenders like Votto on the middling Reds. The two main statistical differences between Votto and Goldschmidt are Votto strikes out only half as much as Goldschmidt, but Goldschmidt is on pace for 25 stolen bases to Votto’s six. Votto  There isn’t another first baseman in the game with speed like Goldschmidt, which has helped him currently lead the league in Runs, but there also isn’t another first baseman with Votto’s combination of power and low-strikeouts in a strikeout driven era. With both players being statistically unique and dominant, I’ll go with Goldschmidt and his 52-31 Diamondbacks as the tie breaker…barring catastrophe, Judge will easily capture the AL Rookie of the year, and my mid-season NL Rookie of the Year also easily goes to Dodgers 21-year old slugger, Cody Bellinger. His historic home run streak has put him on pace for almost 50 bombs this season and he’s helping lead the Dodgers to the best record in the NL…in the AL, Chris Sale has hands down been the best pitcher – what an acquisition by Dave Dombrowski. Sale currently leads the AL in IP, K’s, WHIP, SO/9, SO/BB Ratio, and FIP, while sitting second in wins and ERA. With Jason Vargas currently first in both wins and ERA, Sale could easily surpass him in the second half, or a trade of Vargas to the NL could knock him out of the leaders by default, paving the way for Sale to not only be the AL CY, but also win the pitching Triple Crown…in the NL, it’s a two horse race between last year’s winner, Max Scherzer, and 3-time winner Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw currently leads the league in wins at 12-2, and has an filthy 0.91 WHIP, but it’s actually Scherzer who leads the NL in almost every major category. Additionally, Scherzer’s ERA + is an amazing 225, and his WHIP is 0.77, which would be the second lowest in over 135 years, only behind Pedro Martinez’s 0.74 WHIP in 2000. Only twice in his career did Pedro have an ERA+ higher than 225, and his current 225 would rank as the 8th best total over the past 100 seasons. Scherzer truly is having a historic season, and is currently in line to win his 3rd CY Award. Half way through 2017, Judge and Scherzer are especially having historic seasons, so let’s enjoy the ride and see what they can do in the 2nd half.

PNC PArk fireworks

Things to Know: We’ve officially hit the half-way point to the season, as we say goodbye to June and hello to July. Moves made these next couple weeks will separate those with staying power, and the pretenders who’ve had nice but unsustainable runs. As we hit 81 games, double players stats to see what your favorite players are currently on pace for – an easy way to get a feel for how good they’ve really been thus far…many baseball analysts had the Diamondbacks winning the NL West last season, only to watch them crash and burn while overhauling team management. The roster has remained largely the same, but the Diamondbacks this season are dominating behind an ace-like Zack Greinke, MVP caliber Paul Goldschmidt, and improved bullpen – sometimes luck just isn’t on your side, but what a difference a season can make… the Red Sox are slowly pulling away with the AL East division lead, up by three games on the 2nd place Yankees. With the Yanks struggling mightily thanks to their porous bullpen, it’s a miracle the deficit is actually only three games…there’s a lot of mediocrity in the American League, so much that the Astros and Red Sox are the only teams eight games or better above .500. This will complicate the trade deadline as GM’s will have a tough time deciding whether they’re sellers or buyers…in the NL, the Dodgers are finally separating themselves from the pack, thanks to a 20-4 record over their past 24 games…the Nationals are still 10.5 games ahead of the Mets in the NL East, despite the Mets playing better of late…Mets outfielder Jay Bruce is quietly having a nice year, and is on pace for 40 homers and 110 RBI…the NL Central has been disappointing, headlined by the 41-41 World Champion Cubs…despite going 2-8 over their last 10 and sitting in 3rd place in the NL West, the Rockies still are on pace to be the 2nd NL Wild Card team, a testament to how mediocre the rest of the NL also is – lots of mediocrity across the board, not to mention home runs and strikeouts…

Yankee Report: It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the now 2nd place Yanks. The team either blows out the opposition or blows the lead in the late innings, losing in gut-wrenching fashion. In June, the Yanks actually scored on average more runs than they did in either April or May. Despite a rash of injuries to Hicks, Castro, Holliday, Dustin Fowler, and not to mention a glaring hole at first base, the offense has still been highly productive thanks to Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius. The bullpen continues to collapse, with nobody seemingly able to throw strikes besides Chad Green. Every late inning lead becomes a high-wire act, eventually culminating with either Tyler Clippard, Domingo German, Jonathan Holder, Dellin Betances, or closer Aroldis Chapman coughing up the lead. Given the state of the bullpen, no lead feels safe. When Andrew Miller used to come into games, there was a sense that things were in complete control, especially because all he did was throw strikes. For his career as a Yankee, Miller went 9-3 with a 1.77 ERA in 107 IP, while striking out a ridiculous 177 batters with an 0.82 WHIP – those numbers are incredible and irreplaceable. The Yankees made the right move in trading him to help retool for the future, but the bullpen is paying the price this season.

Didi Gregorius

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