Believe it or not baseball fans, we are already at the halfway point of the 2018 MLB season! There are a number of surprise team and players this year, as well as some old reliable performers. Regardless of how your favorite team or player is looking, the time has come to vote on some midseason awards. Below are this year’s midseason award winners as voted on by the staff at Last Word on Baseball.
2018 MLB Midseason Awards
AL MVP – Mike Trout (9/11 votes)
Once again, it is hard to argue against what Trout is accomplishing. Already the recipient of two MVP awards and three second-place finishes, Trout is putting up arguably his best numbers ever in 2018. He currently leads all of MLB in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), and he is one full win above Jose Ramirez in second place. For those who dislike sabermetrics, Trout has all the traditional stats one could hope for.
He leads the league in OBP (.456) and walks (74) while slashing .313/.456/.633. He has 24 home runs, good for second in baseball behind J.D. Martinez while scoring 66 runs and driving in another 49. Trout ranks in the top five in OBP, slugging percentage, runs, home runs, total bases, and leads all of MLB in OPS+ at 201.
The biggest knock against Trout remains team success, as the Los Angeles Angels are currently 43-42 and competing in the AL West. The Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners are currently running away from the rest of the pack, and Trout faces the potential of sitting out another October. However, none of that can take away from the fact that Trout is the best player on the planet and playing like it. Barring injury or shocking struggles in the second half, Trout should win his third MVP.
Others receiving votes: Martinez (1), Mookie Betts (1)
NL MVP – Freddie Freeman (8/11)
Freeman put the world on notice in 2016 with an incredible season and sixth place MVP finish. Now, he is finally getting some well-earned recognition. Freeman is currently slashing .311/.401/.537 with 16 home runs, 21 doubles, 100 hits, 53 runs, and 56 RBI. He is ranked in the top 10 in the NL in average, OBP, slugging percentage, total bases, doubles, home runs, RBI, and runs scored. His 100 hits rank third behind teammate Nick Markakis and Scooter Gennett, and he is sixth in WAR (3.1).
One big boost to Freeman’s MVP case is the surprising success of the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta currently sits atop the entire NL and leads the NL East by 3.5 games. The Braves will likely be in a battle for the division title all summer, but no one has been better in the NL to this point. And while Markakis is having an incredible year, along with a young and impressing rotation, Freeman remains the heart, soul, and best player on Atlanta’s roster.
AL Cy Young – Luis Severino (6/11)
Fans of the New York Yankees can now rest assured that last year’s third-place finish in Cy Young voting was no fluke for Severino. The 24-year old righty has been absolutely dominant and shows no sign of slowing down. He is 13-2 with a minuscule 1.98 ERA and one shutout over 18 starts. Severino has already made it through 118.1 innings pitched and has just 29 walks against 138 strikeouts.
He leads all of MLB in wins and is fourth in innings pitched, seventh in strikeouts, and fourth in FIP (2.25). There are plenty of strong pitchers in the AL this year, but none of them have been quite as imposing as Severino.
NL Cy Young – Max Scherzer (7/11)
Where would the Washington Nationals be without Scherzer? The team as a whole is struggling these days, but Scherzer is putting up a very strong case for his third straight Cy Young Award. He leads all of MLB with 120.2 innings pitched and 174 strikeouts, and he is fourth in WAR among pitchers with 4.4. To round it all out, Scherzer is 10-5 with a 2.16 ERA and 0.870 WHIP.
Beyond his personal accomplishments, Scherzer has been the most consistent performer for the Nationals and is a big reason the team is not further in a hole at this point. While Washington is in a battle the rest of the way to simply make the postseason, Scherzer continues to show that he is one of the best pitchers in the National League.
AL Rookie of the Year – Gleyber Torres (10/11)
Torres is off to a remarkable start this season. In 61 games with the Yankees, Torres is hitting .296/.353/.560 with 15 home runs and 10 doubles. He is tied for the third-most home runs by a second baseman in MLB and is second to Javier Baez in slugging percentage by a second baseman. While Torres is not quite an elite fielder, he does have two DRS to this point and shows room for growth on the defensive side of the ball.
The Yankees certainly have a talented roster no matter how you look at it, but Torres’ debut season could not be going better. He is showing the ability to be a game-changer on offense, and he should be a staple in pinstripes for years to come.
Others receiving votes: Miguel Andujar (1)
NL Rookie of the Year – Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna Jr. (4/11 apiece)
At 19- and 20-years old respectively, Soto and Acuna are two of the most promising and exciting outfielders in all of baseball. Fans in the NL East will likely see these players a lot well into the future, and both players are providing glimpses of their immense talent.
For Soto, he burst onto the scene with two hits and a home run on May 21. He has continued to hit well since that time. Soto currently sits with a line of .313/.429/.570 over 38 games. He has eight home runs, nine doubles, 25 runs scored, and 21 RBI. Additionally, Soto has provided a spark at times for a Nationals club that is fighting for its life in the NL East. It remains to be seen if Washington will compete in October and if Soto can keep up his hot start, but there’s no denying he is a special player.
For Acuna, his season to this point has been one of ups and downs. He started off strong with eight hits, four doubles, and a home run over his first five games. He would eventually slow down and struggle for a little while, but Acuna’s biggest setback came when he injured his knee on May 27. What looked to be a devastating injury turned out to be a mild sprain. Still, he has played just four games since that time and is trying to settle in.
Acuna is currently slashing .274/.331/.496, but the flashes of potential continue to shine. He has seven home runs, nine doubles, 24 runs scored, and 18 RBI in 33 games. Since returning from his injury, he has six hits, two doubles, two home runs, and is showing that the injury is not lingering. As long as he remains healthy, Acuna should be in contention for Rookie of the Year.
AL Manager of the Year – Scott Servais (9/11)
What a year it has been for Servais and the Seattle Mariners. After posting a losing season last year, Seattle seemingly faced a tall task coming into 2018. Facing a revamped Angels roster and the defending champion Astros left the AL West as a tough division to compete in. As of May 16, the Mariners were a respectable 24-18. Unfortunately, the team would lose star second baseman Robinson Cano to an 80-game suspension.
There’s no denying the loss of Cano was a big blow, but somehow Servais has kept the Mariners on a winning path. They now sit half a game back of the Astros in the AL West with a record of 54-31. Mitch Haniger, Nelson Cruz, and Jean Segura are all playing at a high level, but there’s no denying Servais deserves a lot of credit for keeping this team focused. If Seattle makes it into the postseason, he should definitely receive a lot of attention for AL Manager of the Year.
Others receiving votes: A.J. Hinch (1), Paul Molitor (1)
NL Manager of the Year – Brian Snitker (6/11)
In the closest two-man race on this ballot, Snitker edges out Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell by a vote. In all honesty, the award should be a coin flip between these two men. While Milwaukee did make moves in the off-season to improve the ballclub, there was some skepticism that they would be able to hang around in the NL Central. To this point, the Brewers are in first place and are going back-and-forth with the Braves for the best record in the NL.
For Snitker, there is no denying that Atlanta is the biggest surprise in MLB this season. The Braves are a team that has been rebuilding since the conclusion of the 2014 season, and many expected Atlanta to struggle once again this year. Who could blame them? The rotation was filled with inexperienced starters and a few inconsistent veterans. A few young position players like Ozzie Albies and Acuna brought a sense of hope for the future, but no one expected results this soon.
Atlanta has answered virtually every test to this point and currently holds the best record in the NL. The Braves even kicked off a 10-game road trip with a sweep of the Cardinals and a win over the Yankees. While Snitker does receive more than a fair amount of criticism for his bullpen management and decision making, he should at least receive some credit for the work he and his staff have put in this year. The rotation is one of the most improved in all of MLB, and the defense has benefitted from Ron Washington being on staff.
Both Counsell and Snitker are deserving of acknowledgment this year, but it is the surprise of the Braves that earns Snitker the nod here.
Others receiving votes: Counsell (5)
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