The 2011 All-Star Game is upon us and as such, it is time to put some serious discussion into the awards races for both the American and National Leagues.
American League MVP – Jose Bautista, TOR
.324 Avg, 31 HR, 64 RBI, 73 Runs
This award could easily go to Adrian Gonzalez (.354, 17 HR, 77 RBI) of the Red Sox, but Bautista has been an absolute beast in 2011. He’ll enter the All-Star break as the first Blue Jay to ever hit 30 home runs prior to the All-Star game, leads the American League with 74 walks, and has single-handedly kept the Blue Jays hovering around .500 in baseball’s toughest division.
Runner-up: Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
National League MVP – Jose Reyes, NYM
.354 Avg, 22 2B, 15 3B, 32 RBI, 65 Runs, 30 SB
If not for a hamstring injury, we’d be talking about Jose Reyes being the fantasy baseball MVP right now as well as the first half MVP in the National League. He only has 3 home runs at this writing, but his peripheral stats in every other category are tremendous. 15 triples before the All-Star break is unheard of in today’s game, and could feasibly give him a shot at the all-time record of 36 set by Chief Wilson in 1912.
Runner-Up: Matt Kemp, LAD
American League Cy Young – Justin Verlander, DET
12 Wins, 2.15 ERA, 147 SO, 0.87 WHIP
The Indians got off to the quick start in 2011, but the Tigers sit in first place now and much of that credit should be heaped onto Verlander, who has been absolutely filthy to start the season. Batters are “hitting” just .188 off of the Tiger’s ace thus far on the season and he leads all of baseball in strike-outs, showing just how much difficulty opposing teams are having against him. Keep an eye on his pitch counts in the second half though, as Verlander has also thrown nearly 100 more pitches than any other pitcher in the game.
Runner-Up: C.C. Sabathia, NYY
National League Cy Young – Jair Jurrjens, ATL
12 Wins, 1.87 ERA, 65 SO, 1.07 WHIP
Everyone was expecting Atlanta rotation-mate Tommy Hanson to be the guy figuring into the Cy Young talk, but it has been Jurrjens that has been the shutdown starter for the Braves. Jurrjens leads the National League in Wins and ERA, but has also only struck-out 65 batters on the season, showing he’s getting by on outs on balls in play. That alone could show a shift in the future in this category, but for now Jurrjens is the man.
Runner-Up: Roy Halladay, PHI
American League ROY – Michael Pineda, SEA
- 8 Wins, 3.03 ERA, 113 SO, 1.04 WHIP
Pineda is giving Seattle fans exactly what they were hoping for this season, a certifiable number two starter to slot in behind Felix Hernandez. He leads all rookies in Wins, Strike-outs, and ERA. His poise is excellent, and for a young pitcher, he’s exhibiting solid control and limiting damage with runners on base. At 22-years-old, the Mariners can be looking at this one-two punch for years to come.
Runner-Up: Mark Trumbo, LAA
National League ROY – Craig Kimbrel, ATL
2 Wins, 2.35 ERA, 28 Saves, 70 SO
Kimbrel made such a solid impression with the Braves at the end of 2010, that they trusted the rookie with their closer role in 2011. Kimbrel took that trust and ran with it, setting the record for the most saves by a rookie before the All-Star game with 28. Equally as impressive are his astounding 70 strike-outs in just 46 innings pitched. His save opportunities will likely go down in the second-half, but he’s on pace to have an incredible year by any closer’s standards.
Runner-up: Dillon Gee, NYM
American League Manager of The Year – Manny Acta, CLE
The young Indians were supposed to still be in another year of rebuilding, but instead, they fired out of the gates and stormed to an early lead in the AL Central. They’ve fallen back in recent weeks and now trail the Tigers by .5 games heading into the break, but anything short of a huge second-half slide will result in Acta getting the Manager of the Year award.
Runner-up: Joe Maddon, TB
National League Manager of The Year – Clint Hurdle, PIT
There is no doubt that the talk of baseball has been the play of the Pittsburgh Pirates. For a team that hasn’t had a winning record since 1992, it goes without saying that being 1.0 game out of first place at the All-Star break is an accomplishment. Combine that with the fact that it is all being done by a team made up of youngsters and cast-offs and you don’t need any further argument to hand Clint Hurdle the Manager of the Year award.
Runner-Up: Fredi Gonzalez, ATL