Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

First Half Awards

In the spirit of the Twins reaching the halfway point of their season, I thought I would name my MLB award winners for the first half. Without further ado:

AL Manager of the Year: Jim Leyland (DET)
How can this not be Jim Leyland? Taking a team that 71-91 last year and winning 57 games with them in the first half? That's just absurd. Leyland has always been one of my favorite managers, and I think if he had spent more time in Colorado he could have turned that franchise around. Instead, the Tigers lucked out. While I suspect that the Tigers are going to have a harder time in the second-half, Leyland has without a doubt captured the first-half version of this award.

NL Manager of the Year: Jerry Narron (CIN)
While Willie Randolph of the Mets would be a safe pick, I credit the General Manager with the additional success: adding names like Carlos Delgado, Billy Wagner and Paul LoDuca will do that for a team. Instead, the guy who deserves this award is Jerry Narron of the Cincinnati Reds. Nobody thought the Reds were going to compete this year, but at the midpoint of the season they lead the Wild Card race and are poised to make a run at a struggling Cardinals team for the division crown. Narron has done more with less, and so he gets the award in my eyes.

AL Cy Young: Johan Santana (MIN)
This award comes down to three guys for me: Roy Halladay (TOR), Johan Santana, and Francisco Liriano. Now, of course, I'm biased. However, the numbers back me up. Liriano has a 1.99 ERA and is 9-1, while Santana has the second best ERA in the league, a ton of strike outs, and 9 wins of his own. Halladay is 10-2 with an ERA of 3.22. I hesitate to give this award to Liriano, because he has made about half the starts of the other guys and does not have a track record to fall back on. Santana, however, has twice as many losses and one fewer win than Halladay. It's a tough call, but in the end I give the award to Santana for his superior K's (almost twice as many). If Liriano has a similar second-half, however, he would be the front-runner for the Award.

NL Cy Young: Bronson Arroyo (CIN)
Tom Glavine has 11 wins and is pitching for the best team in the National League, but Arroyo is a not-too-shabby 9-4 with an ERA of 2.58, more than 3/4 of a run better than Glavine's. Meanwhile, Arroyo has more strikeouts and a superior WHIP to Glavine. In other words, Arroyo has just been plain better. I never thought I would give Arroyo even a first-half award, but hey, the numbers speak for themselves.

AL MVP: Justin Morneau (MIN)
This is a tough, tough call. However, look at the definition of Most Valuable Player: it isn't necessarily the guy with the best stats. Morneau has had a pretty incredible first half (well, OK, a pretty incredible June), and his numbers stack up with just about anybody else in the league. But take him away from the Twins and where would they be? If you look at the Tigers, their pitching has been the reason for their success, and they have three pitchers who have been equally good, so no MVP there. The White Sox have hitters all through their lineup, so giving the award to Konerko or Thome wouldn't make sense. The Red Sox have Manny and Big Papi, and while Ortiz deserves consideration for the award, he loses out in my mind to Morneau in terms of his value to the team. This pick surprises me, but I think it's valid.

NL MVP: Lance Berkman (HOU)
It's a curve-ball because it's not Albert Pujols. However, if you take away Berkman from the Astros, they have nothing offensively. With him, they are 4 games out of 1st in the NL Central, 3 games behind the Reds for the Wild Card. In other words, despite being a game under .500, they are in contention. I think his numbers speak for themselves, and I give him the nod as the first-half NL MVP.

AL Rookie of the Year: Jonathan Papelbon (BOS)
Alright, so Twins fans are going to kill me. How does Francisco Liriano not win the award? Well, simple; Papelbon has been the Red Sox closer since about the second week of the season, and has 25 saves with an ERA of 0.43. Yes, 0.43. Liriano, at 9-1, 1.99 has been amazing, but he's only been in this role for 1/4 of the season so far. If Liriano continues to put up these kinds of numbers over the course of a full season, he gets the nod from me, but for the first half I have to give the award to Papelbon.

NL Rookie of the Year: Dan Uggla (FLA)
An All-Star in his first season, Uggla has done everything right this year. He looks like he's going to be an amazing player in years to come, and to me he wins this award going away. While the AL has a plethora of potential ROY's (Papelbon, Liriano, Jenks, Verlander), the NL isn't as stocked. That makes the choice of Uggla easier, but it doesn't take away from the amazing season that he has put together thus far. I don't anticipate him losing this award to anyone as the season progresses.


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