The best -- and worst -- of each league in my Midseason Awards
Miguel Cabrera is AL MVP while Chone Figgins in the AL Least Valuable Player
The Tigers have the American League's best player and rookie but worst pitcher
Frank Wren and Jon Daniels have been the best general managers so far
We're halfway through a terrific baseball season. So of course, it's time for the envelopes please ...
1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers 1B. He's appeared to have turned his life around while also stepping up what was already an excellent game. Playing home games in a pitchers park, he leads the AL in batting average (.3462 to Josh Hamilton's .3460), RBIs (77) and is second in home runs (22). Also doesn't hurt that he was my preseason pick.
2. Josh Hamilton, Rangers OF. Amazing that he hasn't lost anything after his drug issue and time away. Incredible streak has helped Texas to a surprisingly strong start. Looks wise now to have turned down a $24-million, three-year offer made several months ago. His 1.014 OPS is third best in the league.
3. Justin Morneau, Twins 1B. He is overshadowed by hometown hero Joe Mauer but is outhitting Mauer this year (and just about everyone else, as well). Generally overlooked star is right on target in first year in new Target Field. Has 1.055 OPS and major league-leading .437 on-base percentage.
4. Robinson Cano, Yankees 2B. He's done a superb job taking over the No. 5 spot in the Yankees' lineup, batting .336 with a .556 slugging percentage. His defense also has been nothing short of excellent. In the spring of 2006, A-Rod said it was up to Cano: he could either go to Columbus (where the Yankees' Triple-A team was at the time) or Cooperstown. He's definitely not going to Columbus.
5. Carl Crawford, Rays OF. His timing is impeccable. On the cusp of free agency, he's about to cash in big-time with one of the bigger contracts ever for a non-power hitter. Could even make $100 million the way he's going. He's first in the AL with 70 runs, is second with 31 stolen bases and has a career-high .521 slugging percentage.
LVP (Least Valuable Player)
Chone Figgins, Mariners 2B. For $36 million, he's provided very little. He's hitting .235 with a pathetic .608 OPS. Maybe it was all too much -- the new team, new ballpark, new position and new salary. Such a waste. Had a good thing going with the Angels.
1. David Price, Rays. The No. 1 overall pick from a few years ago has really emerged, giving Tampa the ace it needs. As terrific as anyone thought he would be. More good work by Tampa.
2. Cliff Lee, Rangers. By staying in the AL after the Seattle-Texas trade, he keeps alive his chance for a second AL Cy Young in three years. Went 8-3 for poor-hitting Mariners -- not bad -- and now has 91 strikeouts and six walks.
3. Jon Lester, Red Sox. Has 11-3 record, 1.09 WHIP and 2.78 ERA.
4. Jered Weaver, Angels. Leads the league in starts and strikeouts (137) in just 121 innings, despite not being an extremely hard thrower. Living up to his new billing as Angels ace.
5. Andy Pettitte, Yankees. Originally an All-Star snub by his own manager, Pettitte has an 11-2 record, 1.15 WHIP and 2.70 ERA (fourth best in AL). Certainly a deserving All Star.
Cy Old (Worst Pitcher)
Rick Porcello, Tigers. Last year's Rookie of the Year candidate was dispatched to the minors in June after going 4-7 with a 6.14 ERA. Sophomore jinx strikes.
1. Brennan Boesch, Tigers OF. The Tigers have a couple very good rookies in the outfield, with Austin Jackson bring the other. Boesch has made the greater impact, however, and is batting .342 with 12 home runs and 42 RBIs.
2. Neftali Feliz, Rangers RP. Stuff is as good as any closer in the game.
3. Austin Jackson, Tigers. He's easily outplayed Curtis Granderson, the man he replaced, and a lot of other folks as well.
1. Terry Francona, Red Sox. Despite injuries to Josh Beckett, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, Dustin Pedroia and Victor Martinez, Francona has kept the Red Sox just behind the Yankees and Rays. He also is the one who stuck up for David Ortiz, and more importantly, stuck with him. Great call.
2. Mike Scioscia, Angels. Doubters emerged after the Angels' rough start, but Scioscia has them right back in the race with his usual superior handling of the team. They've lost a lot of good free agents in recent years (Mark Teixeira, Francisco Rodriguez, John Lackey, Figgins), yet Scioscia performs his magic year after year. Will have work to do to catch the Rangers, however.
3. Ron Washington, Rangers. He shrugged off the spring cocaine revelation and led his team to an excellent first half. Michael Young was right. They did have his back.
Jon Daniels, Rangers. The Lee deal was a coup for bankrupted Texas, even if it came at the expense of very good hitting prospect Justin Smoak. But Daniels did his best work in the offseason. Colby Lewis is one of the best free-agent pickups of the year, for $5 million over two years. Darren Oliver has also been very good in a reprieve. And Vladimir Guerrero has been his old self. Just about everything but Rich Harden went right (and Kevin Millwood, whom Daniels traded to the Orioles, isn't exactly bowling them over in Baltimore, anyway).
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