Making my Midseason Award picks
Adrian Gonzalez of the Red Sox, Mets' Jose Reyes are choices for AL, NL MVP
Justin Verlander and Roy Halladay look like the Cy Young winners to this point
Michael Pineda and Craig Kimbrel are clear Rookie of the Year frontrunners
There are some great debates being set up already for the major awards. Jose Reyes, Matt Kemp, Prince Fielder or even Lance Berkman for NL Most Valuable Player? Adrian Gonzalez or Jose Bautista for AL MVP? In the Cy Young races, any of three Phillies starters could win in the NL while In the AL, a strong case could be made for Justin Verlander or Jered Weaver. And as for NL Manager of the Year, well, there are several worthy candidates.
But in the less-coveted Least Valuable Player awards, there is one obvious candidate in each league at this point. Here are the Midseason Awards, for good and bad.
1. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox. He's come east and done everything expectant Bostonians imagined. He's leading the AL in batting average (.348) and hits (121) and the majors in doubles (28), RBIs (75) and total bases (203).
2. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays. His MLB-best 1.154 OPS is of the charts and he also tops all big leaguers in home runs (28), walks (70), OBP (.467) and slugging (.687). His team is in fourth in the AL East, however.
3. Curtis Granderson, Yankees. His fabulous first half is key to the Yankees' first-place standing. Granderson's 25 home runs are more than he hit all of last season, and he leads the majors in runs (77) and the AL in triples (seven).
AL LVP (Least Valuable): Adam Dunn, White Sox. One of baseball's most consistent players over the past half-dozen years, he's been simply dreadful in his first season after signing a $56-million, four-year contract for the underachieving team. Dunn is hitting just .167 with eight home runs and has struck out 108 times, tops in the AL. The White Sox need him to turn things around in the second half.
1. Jose Reyes. The Mets aren't in a playoff position at the moment, but they are contending, thanks to him. Leads the majors in batting average (.354), hits (124) and triples (15) and the NL in runs (65).
2. Matt Kemp. Part of his incredible all-around play for the historic franchise in trouble includes an NL-best 189 total bases, as well as a .325 average, 22 home runs and 64 RBIs.
3. Lance Berkman, Cardinals. Seems reborn in St. Louis, chief rival of his old Astros. At 35, he leads the NL with 23 home runs, a .612 slugging percentage and a 1.018 OPS.
3. Prince Fielder, Brewers. Like fellow free-agent-to-be Reyes, he is having his big year at the right time. Fielder ranks first in the NL with 71 RBIs and has a .302 average and 22 home runs as well.
NL LVP -- Dan Uggla, Braves. Uggla has been even worse than Dunn, and for more money ($61 million over five years). And unlike Dunn, who switched leagues, became a DH and had an appendectomy, Uggla has no ready-made excuses for his .178 average and .250 on-base percentage, both of which are more than 100 points worse than what he posted last year for Florida.
1. Justin Verlander, Tigers. He has been simply dominant and has single-handedly kept Detroit's rotation afloat by going 11-4 with a 2.26 ERA and leading the majors in strikeouts (138), WHIP (0.879) and innings pitched (143 1/3). Also pitched a no-hitter in May.
2. Jered Weaver, Angels. Brilliant pitcher is probably a short-timer in Anaheim with free agency after 2012 looming. Is first among all AL pitchers with a 1.92 ERA and third in wins (10) and WHIP (0.921).
3. Josh Beckett, Red Sox. Big bounce-back year for him; his seven wins are already one more than he had in 2010, and he's lowered his ERA from 5.78 to 2.12. The Yankees' CC Sabathia (12-4, 290 ERA) is coming fast, though, and isn't hurt by nice run support, either, having won his games by the following scores: 15-3, 12-3, 12-5, 13-2, 5-4, 7-1, 3-2, 12-4, 10-4, 8-3, 9-2.
AL Cy Old -- Fausto Carmona, Indians. Appeared to be rounding into form after brutal Opening Day performance before imploding. He now has the most losses (10) and earned run allowed (67) in the majors.
1. Roy Halladay, Phillies. The best of the best. Leads the NL in wins (11), complete games (6) and innings pitched (136 1/3) is second in strikeouts (131) and WHIP (1.027) and third in ERA (2.44).
2. Jair Jurrjens, Braves. The best of the second best, he's tied with Halladay for the league lead in wins and ranks first with a 1.89 ERA.
3. Cole Hamels, Phillies. He's 10-4 with a 2.40 ERA and an NL-best 0.952 WHIP. Yet another Phillies pitcher, Cliff Lee, is in the hunt, too.
NL Cy Old: Javier Vazquez, Marlins. After being one of the worst in the AL last year, going 10-10 with a 5.32 ERA for the Yankees, he's been even worse with Florida: 4-8 with a 5.64 ERA.
1. Michael Pineda, Mariners. Better than King Felix so far, posting a better ERA (2.58 to 3.22) and WHIP (1.009 to 1.153) and the same number of wins (8).
2. Zach Britton, Orioles. Mature beyond his 23 years, Britton is 6-6 with a 3.47 ERA.
3. Jordan Walden, Angels. Dominating stuff has helped him post 19 saves, fifth-most in the AL, and a 2.95 ERA.
1. Craig Kimbrel, Braves. The closer of the league's top bullpen leads the majors with 26 saves.
2. Dillon Gee, Mets. He doesn't throw hard, he just wins, going 8-2 for an MLB-best .800 winning percentage.
3. Danny Espinosa, Nationals. Hasn't missed a game and has shown terrific power, with 15 home runs (tied for the team lead) and 48 RBIs (most on the club). Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney (.289 average) also deserves consideration.
1. Manny Acta, Indians. Nobody had the Indians contending this late, or at all, yet they lead the AL Central by 1 ½.
2. Mike Scioscia, Angels. One of the best every year, he has the Angels tied for first in the AL West and chasing their seventh postseason berth in his 12 seasons at the helm.
3. Joe Girardi, Yankees. Binder looking good so far, as he's guided the Yankees to the top of the AL East.
AL Worst Manager -- Ozzie Guillen, White Sox. He talks about getting fired so much, he's finally convincing us.
1. Clint Hurdle, Pirates. Incredible job to date to guide the Pirates to a 45-41 mark, good for second place in the NL Central, just 1 ½ behind the Cardinals.
2. Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks. The same could be said of Gibson, who has Arizona within a game of defending World Series champion San Francisco in the NL West.
3. Tony La Russa, Cardinals. Has weathered some setbacks,like injuries to Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols to steer St. Louis to the top of the NL Central.
NL Worst Manager -- Jim Tracy, Rockies. No obvious candidate here, but Colorado has really sunk since its quick start. An injury to starter Jorge De La Rosa was a big loss, so there are excuses.