As the 1st half of the baseball season comes to a close, it’s time to give out some 1st half awards for the 2007 MLB Season. Now I am not saying that these players will win these awards or that all of them will continue to play at the level they are currently at, but at almost the halfway point in the MLB season it’s time to look at the players who have really stood out. As Fred the Baker used to say “It’s time to make the donuts…”
Most Valuable Player
Alex Rodriguez – While the Tigers Magglio Ordonez makes a strong case for MVP as well, you can’t look past A-Rods staggering numbers to this point in the season. He’s hitting .315 with 27 HR’s and has already driven in 73 runs. At his current pace he should be over 80 RBI at the All-Star break and while it seems the single season home runs record may be out of reach, A-Rod may still be creeping toward one of the most productive seasons in recent memory and is certainly showcasing why he is the best baseball player to ever pick up a Louisville Slugger.
Prince Fielder – In only his second full season in the majors, it seems that Prince may already be getting fit for his home run crown. With less than half the season completed, Fielder is already 3 home runs short of eclipsing his entire home run output for last season. Hitting just under .300 and driving in a NL leading 60 runs has helped Prince start to establish himself as the power hitter of the new generation and has catapulted the once lowly Milwaukee Brewers into prominence as they sit in atop the National League Central. All at the ripe old age of 23.
CY Young Award
Dan Haren – Oakland has been in dire need of an Ace since a few years ago when the lost their big three of Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and last years free agency loss of Barry Zito. Enter Haren who has posted a ridiculous 1.64 e in 15 starts this season, while maintaining an 8-2 record and whiffing 84 to finally establish another young Oakland pitcher who will probably end up landing on a big market American League team when his contract expires in a few years. I personally don’t think Haren can keep up the superb pitching throughout the season because most of his wins have come against very weak AL teams. But as of right now, I just can’t argue with the numbers.
Jake Peavy – After a miserable 2006 campaign that saw his ERA jump to over 4, Peavy has bounced back this season to help lead the Padres to the top of the NL West. Posting a staggering 1.98 ERA and fanning 110 so far this season, Peavy is showing signs of a Clemens-esque type season that could see him win over 20 games, lead the league in strikeouts and post the NL’s lowest ERA. And that my friends is what we call the triple crown of pitching and with some of the filthiest pitches in the game look for Peavy to keep putting up gaudy numbers like this for the next few seasons. Also see “Comeback Player of the Year.”
Rookie of the Year
B.J. Upton – This 22 year old phenom was the 2nd pick in the 2002 MLB draft (Prince Fielder was the 7th). Though momentarily plagued by a hamstring injury, through only 56 games Upton had amassed 9 HR, 31 RBI with 13 stolen bases while posting a .320 average. While the second baseman’s numbers don’t pop out at you, one has to remember that he hits in the 2nd spot of a very streaky lineup of young hitters. With power, speed, a good eye and somewhat shaky defense it looks like the Devil Rays got exactly what the bargained for with Upton. They got a better hitting version of Alfonso Soriano, which is not too shabby at all.
Corey Hart – If he keeps playing the way he has the first half of this season, the Brewers are going to let him wear his sunglasses whenever the hell he wants. Hart has been just the type of lead-off hitter that Milwaukee has needed this season. With a bit of power (8 HR), a bit of speed (13 SB) and an average over .300, the 6’6′ Hart is quickly entrenching himself as Brewers lead-off hitter of the future. That is of course unless he gains some more power (which he probably will) in the coming years and with himself, Prince Fielder and J.J. Hardy all making up a strong nucleus of power hitters, look for the Brew Crew to start annihilating the NL Central in about…now.
Reliever of the Year
J.J. Putz – Speaking of consistency, Putz has been the only consistent player the Seattle Mariners have had all season.. His ERA so far is a svelte 1.15 and he has collected 19 saves on a team that really hasn’t given him as many save situations as say the Angels Francisco Rodriguez. But, Putz has made the most of his innings, striking out 35 in 31 innings of work and he hasn’t blown a save opportunity all season long. On a better team he may be the front runner to have the most saves in the AL this year, but more than likely he’ll finish a few saves behind the leader. However, if he keeps pitching as well as he has so far, he will make a solid case for AL Reliever of the year.
Francisco Cordero – Another Milwaukee Brewer makes the list, this time it’s their closer who has already racked up 26 saves and with the exception of one hiccup where he let in 4 runs in one inning of work, Cordero has been thoroughly dominant for the much improved Brewer team. His ERA is now a solid 2.37, but until a few bad games he had been sporting a paltry 0.37 ERA and so far has struck out 42 batters in only 30 innings of work. Look for Cordero to keep up the solid play and help the Brewers win the NL Central and make some waves in the 2007 playoffs.
Comeback Player of the Year
Josh Beckett – Beckett has been lights out for the Boston Red Sox this season, finally bouncing back from a shaky 2006 performance that had many people wondering if he would ever regain his 2003 World Series MVP form. Already with 10 wins this season and no blister problems that had plagued previous seasons, it looks as though Beckett is ready to take over the “Ace of the Staff” position that the aging and ailing Curt Schilling had held the previous 3 seasons. With recorded 71 strikeouts and a 3.14 ERA thus far in 2007, Beckett looks poised to be the first 20 game winner the Sox have had since Schilling did it in 2004.
Jake Peavy – Check back at the end of the year and I can almost guarantee that Peavy will be in the running for CY Young, MVP and Comeback player of the Year. Keep in mind the guy only has one loss so far this season and has had double digit strikeouts in 4 games in row this season , including a game where he K’d 16 Diamondbacks.
Most likely to bounce back in 2nd half
Johan Santana – Santana is the best pitcher in the MLB, hands down no questions asked. So it’s odd that many in the baseball world recognize that he never pitches well till the second half of the season. Now it’s unusual to say that someone with a 2.91 ERA and second in the league in K’s has been struggling, but Santana hasn’t looked sharp or comfortable very often this season. Why? Some say it takes him over 100 innings to get control of his pitches. Some say that he just doesn’t turn it on until he sees the home stretch, but either way, look for Santana to have a dominant 2nd half of the season and as usual, strikeout over 200 batters and make a case for the American League Cy Young Award.
Albert Pujols – Pujols has had a quiet start to the 2007 season, mostly due to the injuries that have plagued the reigning World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Injuries and age have caught up to the team and Pujols’ meager out put of 16 HR and under 50 RBI reflect a lack of consistency from the hitters around him. I mean why pitch to the guy who can hit a home run every at bat when you can just walk him and strike the next three batters out?
For someone who had one of the greatest starts in MLB history last season, it’s easy to see why Pujols’ lackluster 1st half has concerned some of the St. Louis faithful. No worries here though, as Pujols is still the best pure hitter in the game and will certainly be the catalyst if the St .Louis Cardinals can find a way to get healthy and save their 2007 season.
And that does it for my 1st half MLB Awards. Be sure t check back at the end of the year to see if any of my predictions come true.
Tags:1st Half Awards for the 2007 MLB Season