Breaking it down
The All-Star break is here. OK, so the Yankees have three more games before the break, but I’m on my way home for the weekend before I make my way to Pittsburgh on Monday for the All-Star Game.
I’m not going to talk too much about Thursday’s game, as there isn’t too much to say. The Yankees hit well, Randy Johnson pitched very well and New York kept pace with Boston.
Since my first half of the regular season is over, I’m going to dish out my midseason awards. I’ll make my midseason postseason predictions next week.
MVP: David Ortiz, Red Sox — It’s hard to argue with Big Papi’s production. As of Friday, he has 29 homers and 82 RBIs, putting him on pace for another ridiculous season. Last year, he lost out on the MVP to A-Rod, whose fielding helped break the virtual tie. This year, Ortiz has no real equal.
Honorable mention: Jim Thome, White Sox; Derek Jeter, Yankees; Vernon Wells, Blue Jays; Travis Hafner, Indians
Cy Young: Johan Santana, Twins — It’s hard to say that a guy who may not even be the best pitcher on his own staff could win the Cy Young, but Santana has been flat-out nasty. I give him the edge over Roy Halladay for a better ERA and twice as many strikeouts.
Honorable mention: Halladay, Blue Jays; Mike Mussina, Yankees; Scott Kazmir, Devil Rays; Francisco Liriano, Twins
Rookie of the Year: Francisco Liriano, Twins — Red Sox fans are surely going to pounce on me for not picking Jonathan Papelbon, but that’s life. Liriano has been so dominant in a starting role, he has reduced Santana to second-best pitcher in the Twins’ rotation. Liriano was 9-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 21 games, nine of which were starts. In his first 81 innings, he gave up just 59 hits and struck out 94. Nasty.
Honorable mention: Papelbon, Red Sox; Justin Verlander, Tigers; Bobby Jenks, White Sox; Jered Weaver, Angels
Manager of the Year: Jim Leyland, Tigers — How can you not give this award to Leyland, who has turned Detroit from laughingstock to division leaders in less than four months? Not to toot my own horn, but this was my preseason prediction. (Hey, when your other predictions were A-Rod, Rich Harden and Ian Kinsler, you have to hype the one that came through!)
Honorable mention: Joe Torre, Yankees; Ken Macha, A’s; Buck Showalter, Rangers; John Gibbons, Blue Jays
MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals — A no-brainer. Pujols has held the Cards in first place while almost every other player on his team has either struggled or been hurt. Pujols himself missed three weeks with an oblique injury, yet his numbers are still the cream of the NL’s crop.
Honorable mention: David Wright, Mets; Carlos Lee, Brewers; Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers; Ken Griffey Jr., Reds
Cy Young: Brad Penny, Dodgers — Penny has been the Dodgers’ best pitcher, helping Los Angeles contend in the NL West. With 10 wins and a sub-3.00 ERA, he’s as good as any in the NL. Bronson Arroyo gets my close second-place vote; how did the Red Sox trade this guy for Wily Mo Pena?
Honorable mention: Arroyo, Reds; Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks; Jason Schmidt, Giants; Tom Glavine, Mets
Rookie of the Year: Dan Uggla, Marlins — It’s amazing to think that the Marlins have three legitimate ROY candidates on their team, but it’s true. I’ll give it to Uggla, who had 13 homers, 50 RBIs and a .312 average as of Friday. Not bad for a second baseman.
Honorable mention: Josh Johnson, Marlins; Hanley Ramirez, Marlins; Prince Fielder, Brewers; Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
Manager of the Year: Jerry Narron, Reds — Nobody on earth expected the Reds to challenge for a playoff spot, let alone the NL Central title. Yet there are the Reds, just a couple of games behind the mighty Cardinals. Great job.
Honorable mention: Ned Yost, Brewers; Bruce Bochy, Padres; Grady Little, Dodgers; Clint Hurdle, Rockies
(For the record, my preseason predictions in the NL were Aramis Ramirez, Tim Hudson, Jeremy Hermida and Felipe Alou … what do I know about the National League?)