MLB Midseason Awards: Writers’ Picks

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LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 08: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates as he rounds first base after hitting a game tying solo home run in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Dodger Stadium on July 8, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers won 5-4 in ten innings. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The 2017 baseball season has reached the half way point and discussion on who will walk away with individual hardware has already begun. Thirteen of the baseball minds here at Last Word on Baseball came together and voted for the players we feel deserve MVP, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and Manager of the Year honors. If are our MLB midseason awards.

2017 MLB Midseason Awards

American League MVP

Aaron Judge – New York Yankees (9/13 Votes)

Not many players enter the league and make as big of an immediate impact and the Yankees right fielder. He is atop the American League in numerous offensive categories, including home runs (30) and OPS (1.146). His 66 RBI and .330 average rank second in the league, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. His presence at the plate is well known, but his glove is equally as impressive; he’s committed only two errors so far this season. Judge has played in just over 100 games at the MLB level, but already has a section in Yankee Stadium dedicated to him. A strong second half from this standout star will make it very difficult for another player to take MVP honors away from him.

Jose Altuve – Houston Astros (2/13)

The second baseman and five-time All-Star for the Astros has put together a remarkable first half to his 2017 season. His .342 average leads the league, and he truly is a five tool player. He’s accumulated 12 home runs, 47 RBI, 18 stolen bases, and only seven errors. He led the American League in 2016 with a .338 average and is following it up with an even more impressive campaign in 2017.

Miguel Sano – Minnesota Twins (1/13)

The 24-year-old third baseman is putting together a noteworthy 2017 campaign. His 21 home runs and 62 RBI have certainly caught the attention of all the teams in the AL Central, and around the league. After splitting time between third and right field last season, he has settled comfortably into his everyday role at third base this season and has committed just five errors.

Manny Machado – Baltimore Orioles (1/13)

This selection is certainly the most far fetched, but not outlandish. His .228 average is a shell of the .294 number he put up in 2016, but his 18 home runs and 46 RBI show that the pop is still in his bat. It is unlikely that the former third overall pick will have a sub .280 average in the second half. In his short career, he has already been a three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner. Adding MVP honors would be the next line on an already impressive resume.

National League MVP

Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks (6/13)

The former 246th overall pick has put together an outstanding first half for Arizona. He has a .313 average, 20 home runs, 67 RBI, and 13 stolen bases. Few players also manage to maintain an OPS over 1.000, but Paul has done just that with an OPS of 1.011. He is a five time All Star, two time Silver Slugger, and two time Gold Glove winner, who is looking to add 2017 NL MVP to his resume.

Charlie Blackmon – Colorado Rockies (2/13)

The 31-year-old center fielder is showing that age is just a number and is anchoring a young Rockies squad looking to reach October baseball. His .320 average ranks fifth in the National League and has complemented it with 19 home runs and 60 RBI. He was drafted 72nd by the Rockies in 2008 and, nearly a decade later, the two-time All-Star has more than blossomed.

Bryce Harper – Washington Nationals (2/13)

Harper is one of the games brightest, up-and-coming stars. It’s not hard to see why Washington drafted him first overall in 2010. The 24-year-old, five-time All-Star has more than exceeded expectations. He has 20 home runs with 64 RBI and an impressive 1.020 OPS. He also has six assists and players are learning quickly that his arm is just as dangerous as his bat. He will look to add his second MVP trophy to his collection this season, having won the award back in 2015.

Ryan Zimmerman – Washington Nationals (2/13)

Another Nats player has put together a noteworthy first half to his 2017 season. Zimmerman sports the second-best average in the NL at .333 and has 19 home runs and 62 RBI to go along with it. He made his second All-Star roster this season, the first since 2009. He walked away with Silver Slugger and Gold Glove honors that season and will look to replicate that success in 2017. It should also be noted that he needs only nine RBI to reach 900 in his career.

Kris Bryant – Chicago Cubs (1/13)

The Cubs third baseman is looking to retain the MVP crown after winning the award last season to follow up his 2015 Rookie of the Year campaign. Although his .268 average, 18 home runs, and 38 RBI, don’t jump off the page, his first half is still worth noting. The two-time All-Star has played in fewer than 400 games at the big league level, but a solid second half could see him win back-to-back MVP awards.

American League Rookie of the Year

Aaron Judge – New York Yankees (Unanimous)

Stats speak, and Judge’s have done so with a booming roar. Drafted 32nd overall by the Yankees in 2013, it did not take long for Judge to make an impact at the MLB level. In 93 games in Triple-A last season, he batted .270 with 19 home runs and 65 RBI. That kind of production ensures that your stay in the minors will be short lived. The last Yankees player to earn Rookie of the Year honors was Derek Jeter.┬áIf Judge becomes a tenth of the player Jeter was, the Yankees will have the definition of a cornerstone player.

National League Rookie of the Year

Cody Bellinger – Los Angeles Dodgers (12/13)

Like Judge, the 21-year-old left fielder has made quite a splash in the National League. In 69 games, he has 25 home runs and 58 RBI, with a respectable .972 OPS. In 18 games in Triple-A this season, he was batting .343 and already had five home runs and fifteen RBI, indicating a call-up was due.

Ian Happ – Chicago Cubs (1/13)

The Cubs second baseman was drafted ninth overall a mere two years ago, and was well deserving of making his big league debut. Before his call-up, he was batting .298 over 26 games in Triple-A. More impressive is the nine home runs and 25 RBI he tallied in that span. In 50 games at the MLB level, he is batting .264 with 13 home runs and 30 RBI.

American League Cy Young

Chris Sale – Boston Red Sox (8/13)

When Boston acquired Sale in a four player trade with the Chicago White Sox, they added the definition of an ace to their rotation. His 2.75 ERA is near the top of the league, and his 127.2 IP and 178 strikeouts lead the way in commanding fashion. He led the AL in strikeouts back in 2015 with 274. A strong second half could see him reach the 300 mark in 2017. The six-time All-Star needs only 78 Ks to reach 1,500 on his career, and a Cy Young award is on the horizon too, if he keeps it up.

Dallas Keuchel – Houston Astros (3/13)

Despite being on the DL since June 8 with neck discomfort, the 2015 Cy Young recipient will look to build on his first half success when he returns from the DL after the All-Star break. He has gone 9-0 this year with a 1.67 ERA over 75.2 innings, with 69 strikeouts. He needs 85.1 innings to reach 1,000 on his career. The former 221st overall draft pick will look to become a two-time Cy Young award recipient.

Craig Kimbrel – Boston Red Sox (2/13)

It is not impossible for closers to earn Cy Young recognition, but it is uncommon. Kimbrel has had an impressive first half to the 2017 season, converting on 23 of 25 save opportunities and striking out 68 batters over 37.2 innings. He lead the National League in saves for four straight seasons (2011-2014), beginning that streak with a Rookie of the Year 2011 season. The six-time All-Star has 279 career saves and will certainly challenge his teammate for the 2017 AL Cy Young award with a strong second half.

National League Cy Young

Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals (9/13)

His 2.10 ERA and 173 strikeouts lead the league and Scherzer is well on his way to a third Cy Young award. His 284 Ks led the league last season, and 46 more will give him 2,100 on his career. The 32-year-old, five-time All-Star is destined for Cooperstown. Given the level he’s still pitching at, it may be another decade before he hangs up his cleats.

Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers (3/13)

At 13-2 with a 2.19 ERA Kershaw, has started 2017 on a mission to win his fourth Cy Young award. He needs only 36 Ks to reach 2,100, and may reach the milestone before August. His resume is extensive, and includes seven All-Star nods, three Cy Youngs, and an MVP in 2014. There is a saying in professional sports: often replicated, but never duplicated. That is what should be written beneath Kershaw’s plaque in Cooperstown.

Robbie Ray – Arizona Diamondbacks (1/13)

The 25-year-old is a long shot to walk away with the Cy Young in 2017, but it would be wrong to not highlight the first half he put together. A 2.97 ERA and 141 strikeouts over 106.0 innings are the elite numbers that front-of-the-rotation pitchers are made of. The former 356th overall pick in 2010 by the Nationals (picture him paired with Scherzer) is only in his third full season in the big leagues, but needs only three strikeouts to reach 500.

American League Manager of the Year

A.J Hinch – Houston Astros (9/13)

The Astros lead the American League in almost every offensive category, including average (.288), home runs (143), and RBI (483). Along with dominant offence has come elite pitching that leads the league in strikeouts, with 895, and sports a respectable 3.97 ERA. Their 60-29 record has them atop the AL Central by 16.0 games, and they very well may be the team to represent the American League in the World Series

National League Manager of the Year

Bud Black – Colorado Rockies (10/13)

Although their 51-39 record has them third in the NL West, the Rockies are a force to be reckoned with as their plethora of young talent has begun to put it all together. The team’s 434 RBI and .269 average both rank second in the National League, and they have committed the second fewest errors all season (41). The Rockies have put together this strong first half with a pitching rotation comprised of four rookies, which makes the success they’ve found even more impressive.

Agree with our picks? Disagree? Who do you think will emerge as award front runners in the second half? Follow us on Twitter @LastWordOnMLB and comment below. From all of us here at Last Word on Baseball, enjoy the second half of the 2017 MLB season.

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