With the MLB All-Star break underway, we’ve reached the half-way point of the 2017 Major League Baseball season. Okay, so it’s not really the half-way point, but for the purpose of convenience, we’ll pretend that it is. Award races are always a hot topic for discussion all throughout the season, especially around the half-way mark.
First, a disclaimer. If you’re expecting some outlandish predictions in this article like Logan Morrison for MVP because of his sportsmanship or Miguel Montero for his team spirit, you’re in the wrong place. The American League award races have been pretty cut-and-dry up to this point without many close races. The top picks shouldn’t surprise you but with half a season left, anything is possible.
AL Rookie of the Year
Come on, really? It’s Aaron Judge and it’s not even close. Judge can basically do nothing for the rest of the season, knock on wood, and still come away with the ROTY award. The 25-year-old has been the face of baseball the past three and a half months. He’s been the best player, the most exciting and perhaps the most shocking as well. There’s not really much more that can be said about Aaron Judge that hasn’t been said thousands of times already. There’s likely plenty of hardware waiting for Judge when the season is all said and done, but Rookie of the Year is one that you can already put in the books.
AL Manager of the Year
There’s always some debate as to whether Manager of the Year should be considered a major award or not. Sure, a lot of times managers are handed a group of extremely talented players that could probably win plenty of games without any supervision. However, there’s plenty of managing to be done even on the best teams. The AL Manager of the Year at the half-way point is another “shocker.” A.J. Hinch of the first place Houston Astros is the clear winner here. At 60-29 the Astros own the best record in the American League by ten games thanks to a slew of high-caliber talent.
AL Cy Young
There’s a little room for debate on this one, as a number of AL pitchers are putting together a solid season. Two heavyweights, Chris Sale and Corey Kluber, rank towards the top while Jason Vargas and Ervin Santana are making surprising cases of their own. One that stands out above the rest though is the Red Sox’s ace Chris Sale.
The lefty is second in the league in ERA with 2.75, and first in the league in innings pitched (127.2), strikeouts (178), opposing batting average (.200), and WHIP (o.90). He’s been dominant in every sense of the word and has led the Red Sox to a 50-39 record, best in the AL East. He’s walked just 22 batters to his 178 strikeouts and is putting together one of the best seasons of his already impressive career.
AL Most Valuable Player
Finally, the most prestigious award of them all, the Most Valuable Player award. It’s been a long time since we’ve had an MVP race without someone named Mike Trout in the competition. Trout has missed a lot of time with a thumb injury so his chances at the award are lower than they have been the past five seasons. That being said, 2017 is not the year that Trout will be left out of the discussion.
Before the injury, he was off to the best start of his career with a .337/.461/1.203 slash line, 16 homers, 36 RBI and ten stolen bases. He’s set to return when the break concludes, and if finishes the season at the same pace, he’ll give the favorite a run for his money. That favorite is, of course, Aaron Judge. The Home Run Derby winner leads the AL in homers (30), walks (61), OBP (.448), SLG (.691), and OPS (1.139). He ranks second in runs and RBI with 75 and 66, respectively. Judge’s historic rookie season has made him the easy favorite for the award this far and it’ll take a lot for him to be dethroned.
The Home Run Derby winner leads the AL in homers (30), walks (61), OBP (.448), SLG (.691), and OPS (1.139). He ranks second in runs and RBI with 75 and 66, respectively. Judge’s historic rookie season has made him the easy favorite for the award this far and it’ll take a lot for him to be dethroned. With two and a half months left, he has a shot at winning the Triple Crown. Even with some expected regression, Judge should still finish in the top two in the voting.
A group of Astros, Carlos Correa, George Springer and Jose Altuve, have all put together strong cases of their own while helping the first-place Astros own the best record in the AL. Statistically, any of them are deserving, but it’s hard to pick a standout among such a talented team.
Baseball is set to resume Friday, July 14 with a full slate of games. The most exciting stretch of the year is set to begin with tons of storylines to keep an eye on. The award races are some of the most exciting personal storylines through the end of the year, so make sure to keep an eye on these guys as the season resumes.