It’s not quite midseason, but we couldn’t wait. It’s time to dole out the (slightly-ahead-of-schedule) 2015 MLB midseason awards. Despite our proclamation that Matt Carpenter would win top honors in the Senior Circuit, he has been surpassed by a former number one overall draft pick. Without further ado, here you go:
NL MVP – Bryce Harper, RF, Washington Nationals
We picked Matt Carpenter early in the season. We named Giancarlo Stanton before the year. Both players are having fabulous 2015 campaigns, but neither as good as Harper. The first overall pick in the 2010 Draft, Harper is in the running for the Triple Crown, hitting a robust .345 with 24 homers and 57 runs batted in. There is a much more anonymous player in Arizona that is putting up similar numbers, but it likely isn’t meant to be. The Nats have underperformed somewhat, but where would they be without Harper? The answer is one Nats fans hope to never find out. Runner-up: Paul Goldschmidt. Honorable mention: Anthony Rizzo, Matt Carpenter, Jhonny Peralta.
AL MVP – Josh Donaldson, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
The sabermetrics nuts will love us for this pick. Donaldson’s numbers aren’t quite at the top of the heap, but his 4.0 WAR should prove just how much he means to a Blue Jays team that relies on two aspects of the game: offense, and more offense. Donaldson (.302 avg., 17 HR, 46 RBI) has stayed healthy all year and has been front and center at the recent Toronto surge that has them very much in the thick of things in the AL East. Donaldson gets the nod, perhaps somewhat sentimentally, over perennial contender Miguel Cabrera. Runner-up: Miguel Cabrera. Honorable mention: Mike Trout, Prince Fielder.
NL Cy Young – Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
This one is a tough call, but how can we ignore the last two flawless outings that Scherzer has had? And we do just about literally mean flawless. Scherzer’s incredible run (18 innings, one hit allowed) has vaulted him to the top of the league in a number of major categories – ERA (1.76), WHIP (0.80), strikeouts (123), and innings pitched (102 1/3). An 8-5 record in this case is incredibly misleading. Runner-up: Gerrit Cole. Honorable mention: Michael Wacha, Zack Greinke.
AL Cy Young – Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics
The diminutive Gray is a WAR monger, leading the league with a 4.0 mark. He also leads the Junior Circuit with a 1.95 ERA, going 8-3 for a last-place A’s team. He is “only” fifth in strikeouts, but is allowing a measly 6.37 hits per nine innings. Starting the season on the disabled list put Chris Sale in a backseat position, but his numbers are nearly as worthy. Runner-up: Chris Sale. Honorable mention: Felix Hernandez, Chris Archer.
NL Rookie of the Year – Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers
Another difficult decision, but it’s simply too difficult to ignore a rookie with 18 home runs before July. What really separates Pederson from the pack — and by pack we pretty much mean Kris Bryant — has been his stellar defense, which has legendary broadcaster Vin Scully raving that it’s the best he’s ever seen in a Dodgers center fielder. Pederson strikes out a lot, but his outstanding power and penchant for clutch hits and catches gives him a leg up. Runner-up: Kris Bryant. Honorable mention: Randal Grichuk, Chris Heston.
AL Rookie of the Year – Steven Souza Jr., Tampa Bay Rays
Like Peterson, Souza lacks the batting average numbers but more than compensates with big power and strong defense. Souza’s 14 home runs and 31 runs batted in lead AL rookies, and he has stolen eight bases to boot. Runner-up: Billy Burns. Honorable mention: Delino DeShields, Joey Butler.
NL Manager of the Year – Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals
Credit general manager John Mozeliak for building tremendous organizational depth, but Matheny has become adept at getting the most out of all of his players. A rash of injuries to big-time players had some questioning whether the Cards could survive, but not only have they survived, they’ve stormed out to the best record in the Majors. St. Louis is well on its way to a fifth straight postseason appearance and third straight NL Central title, and Matheny deserves a ton of credit. Runner-up: Joe Maddon. Honorable mention: Clint Hurdle, Terry Collins.
AL Manager of the Year – Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays
So Maddon and GM Andrew Friedman are gone. The payroll is low. No way the Rays can hang with the Yankees and Red Sox… Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it all before. And like the Maddon salad days, Cash has the Rays playing well above their means and in first place in the suddenly-resurgent AL East. It’s almost tougher to rattle off the names of healthy Rays players than those on the disabled list, but the line keeps on moving, and getting pitchers Matt Moore and Jake Odorizzi back in the coming weeks should help keep Tampa afloat the rest of the way. Runner-up: A.J. Hinch. Honorable mention: Paul Molitor, Jeff Banister.