Justin’s 2018 MLB Midseason AwardsJuly 18, 2018
The 2018 MLB season has been filled with tons of crazy happenings so far. You’ve got the 3 goliaths in the American League fighting their way through the season. The entire NL is a crazy battle and you have the surprise Braves and Phillies somehow competing for first place in the NL East. This article will be a breakdown of my mid-season awards, starting with the National League.
Manager of the Year: Gape Kapler, Philadelphia Phillies
There were a couple close calls for this one. Craig Counsel of the Brewers was a close runner up but I have to side with Kapler. Nobody expected the Phillies to be 53-42 and leading the NL East by a 0.5 game. They have been on a tear winning 8 of 11 games in July. Odúbel Herrera has been leading the Phillies offensively hitting .275, slugging .460, and has 16 home runs. Rhys Hoskins is leading the team in RBIs (56), OPS (.819), and doubles (21). Along with them, César Hernández has had a good year leading the team in stolen bases (14), runs (63), and OBP (.378). On the pitching side of the things, Aaron Nola has turned into a true ace on the mound as he leads the Phillies in virtually every pitching category. Even if the Phillies don’t win the East, it will have been a magical year for first year manager, Gabe Kapler and the Phillies.
MVP: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
The most underrated first basemen in the big leagues is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Freddie is hitting .315 with 16 home runs, and 61 RBIs. Among those categories, he leads the Braves in OBP (.405), SLG (.533), OPS (.938), and walks (53). The only reason he doesn’t lead in basically every offensive category is because of the crazy seasons Nick Markakis and Ozzie Albies is having. He owns a 3.7 WAR and is the biggest reason the Braves lead the NL East the majority of the first half. They only sit 0.5 game back of the Phillies for first place and if Freeman is half as good in the first half as he was in the first half, we have an easy lock for the NL MVP. Not only the NL’s best first baseman but the entire MLB’s best first basemen.
Rookie of the Year: Brian Anderson, Miami Marlins
Let’s face it, the Marlins are absolute trash this year. They do have one bright spot though. Brian Anderson. He debuted on September 1st last season. He had never been a consensus top-100 prospect, and his numbers in the minors don’t jump off the page. So far in 2018, the 25-year-old is hitting .288/.363/.429 which translates to a 119 OPS+. Juan Soto and Jesse Winker are the only NL rookies who have better, and neither come close to Anderson’s 424 plate appearances. He has been a more than solid defender since moving to right field. He also, owns a 2.5 WAR which is tops among all NL rookies. I only see one other rookie approaching these numbers by the end of the year and that is Ronald Acuńa Jr.
Cy Young: Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
The NL Cy Young is a race between Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Aaron Nola. Jacob deGrom is my winner as of now. He only has 5 wins. That is due to the awful offense and bullpen of the Mets. Aside from all of this, he leads the MLB with a 1.68 ERA. He has a 10.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and 0.5 HR/9. Since April 21, he’s made more starts (15) than he’s allowed earned runs (14). Scherzer and Nola both have had extraordinary seasons, but both of them have way more backup than deGrom.
Reliever of the Year: Josh Hader
Josh Hader has become the Brewer’s version of the 2016 Indian’s Andrew Miller. He is dominating hitters in a way that set up men rarely have. He has 83 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings and a 1.21 ERA. He was drafted in the 19th round as a starter in 2012 and traded twice. He is absolutely nasty on the mound and I feel bad for any lefty that has to step in the box vs. Hader.
Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics
This was a tough choice. I ultimately came down to Scott Servais of the Mariners and Bob Melvin of the As. The As have the smallest market in all of baseball and the worst facilities in all of baseball. They sit in the AL West with the Astros, Mariners, and Angels. Most would think that they would be stuck at the bottom of the division and sitting way below .500. That just isn’t the case as the Athletics sit at 55-42 and are only 8 games out of first place (yes, that is a decent number but they are behind the Astros). The big surprise? They are only 3 games out of one of the wild card spots, which is held by the Yankees and the Mariners. Thanks to players like Jed Lowrie and Sean Manea the Athletics are making a living beating up on the Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners, and Angels. With another half to go, it is definitely a possibility for the surprising A’s to climb into that second wild card spot.
Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout smiles during warmups for a preseason baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Los Angeles.
MVP: Mike Trout
Now, I know what you’re thinking. How could this not be Mookie Betts? Well, here was my final deciding thought. Without Mookie, are the Red Sox still contenders? Yes, they are. Without Mike Trout, are the Angels still a real baseball team? Not a chance. This is the honest truth. Before a sprained index finger, Trout was on pace to have the highest single-season WAR in MLB history. Even though that isn’t going to happen, Trout still leads the MLB with a 6.9 WAR. He leads all of the MLB with a .454 on base percentage. He has a .310 batting average, a .606 slugging percentage and 25 home runs. His OPS+ of 194 trials only Mookie Betts, who has played 19 fewer games and has 73 fewer plate appearances. Not only is Trout the AL MVP, he is the greatest player in the world right now.
Rookie of the Year: Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees
If there was a most over hyped rookie of the year, I would have Shohei Ohtani in this spot., but since it is rookie of the year, then I will have to give the mid-season award to Gleyber Torres. He debuted on April 22 and established himself as a force in the bottom of that Yankee lineup. Since May 4, Torres owns a .288/.349/.593 slash line. In regard to American league rookies, Torres leads in WAR (2.2), home runs (15), and OPS (.905). Although, a right hip strain has landed him on the DL and he won’t be back until later in July. Once Torres returns from the DL, look for him to continue his ways and help lead the Yankees into October.
Cy Young: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
Of all the awards on this list, this one had to be the toughest. For me, it came down to Luis Severino of the Yankees and Chris Sale of the Red Sox. Ultimately, I went with Sale. He is 10-4 with a 2.23 ERA. He has a ridiculous 13.12 K/9 (which leads the MLB) and a 2.16 BB/9. He leads the MLB in strikeouts with 188 and only has a 0.7 HR/9. He is an easy leader in OPS+ allowed as the next closet in Justin Verlander trails him by 6. As of right now, Chris Sale is the most dominant pitcher in the MLB.
Reliever of the Year: Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners
Most of you probably have never heard of Diaz. That is due to the fact that most of his work is done late on the west coast as the Mariners closer. As of July 6, the 24-year old leads the majors with 34 saves, eight more than anybody else. His deadly fastball/slider arsenal has tallied 75 strikeouts in 46 innings. If you go to bed before the west coast games end, Diaz may give you a reason to stay up and watch.
Surprise of the Year: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
Matt Kemp is back. In fact, his WAR from 2013-2017 is just 1.3. In just the first half of 2018, Kemp owns a 1.6 WAR. That’s right, he has been more valuable through the first half of this season than he has the previous five seasons combined. The 2017 move to the Dodgers was basically a salary dump, but did it pay off. He has gotten into muich better shape and is slashing .310/.352/.522 with 15 home runs. His 138 OPS+ is tied for 11th in the NL. If the Dodgers make the playoffs, Matt Kemp is a huge reason why.
Written by Justin Raley