By: Thomas Gotzamanis and Lucas Reyes
Major League Baseball has reached its annual midway rest period, and even though many things could change from July onwards to October, here are the most deserving award winners from the season’s first half.
Winner: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
It’s hard to go against a guy leading the majors in home runs while also being an all-star caliber pitcher for the MVP. Shohei Ohtani is doing things the world hasn’t seen since Babe Ruth, and it’s incredible that we have the privilege of following it live. When a guy has an OPS of over 1.000 and an ERA under 4 at the same time, it absolutely deserves all the recognition it can get. While the runner up is a better hitter overall, the phenomenal two-way abilities of Ohtani earn him the top spot.
Runner Up: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
As a Jays fan, it has been an honour to watch Vladimir Guerrero Jr. play baseball this season. He’s recorded an astounding .337/.435/.667 slashing line to go along with an absurd 28 home runs and 72 RBI in the first half. He nearly leads every major offensive category (except steals) so far, and looks to be on pace to possibly secure the first triple crown since a prime 2012 Miguel Cabrera. That’s absolute insanity.
Honourable Mentions: Rafael Devers, Bo Bichette, Marcus Semien
Winner: Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
This is Jacob deGrom’s world, and we’re all just living in it. The 33 year-old is having possibly the greatest season ever by a starting pitcher, boasting an insane 1.08 ERA, a .125 opponent batting average, and fanning 45.1% of the batters he’s faced. When you take into account how he also has a .364 batting average with six RBI in 33 plate appearances, there’s no reason why deGrom shouldn’t be the first pitcher to win MVP since Clayton Kershaw in 2014.
Runner Up: Fernando Tatis Jr, San Diego Padres
Tatis is on a mission this year, and he’s become a top hitter in virtually no time. Without him, the Padres don’t even sniff the success they’ve seen the last couple of years. Tatis carries an OPS of 1.034 and leads the NL in home runs with a staggering 28. He rakes at the plate, he gets on base pretty well and he’s only 22 years old. If he can work on his defense at shortstop, it’s going to get even scarier for the rest of the league.
Honourable Mentions: Nick Castellanos, Trea Turner, Ronald Acuna Jr.
AL Cy Young
Winner: Carlos Rodon, Chicago White Sox
After dealing with injury after injury (including a Tommy John surgery in 2019) and having only pitched 7.2 innings of relief last season finishing with an 8.22 ERA, nobody could have predicted Carlos Rodon to be the front runner for the AL Cy Young at the season’s midpoint. He boasts a 2.31 ERA so far and his deadly slider strikes out nearly 36% of the batters he’s faced. If he can keep this pace up, he’ll become the first White Sox pitcher to win the Cy Young since Jack McDowell in 1993.
Runner Up: Lance Lynn, Chicago White Sox
Another southsider makes the cut in Lynn, and it’s clear why the White Sox have been so good this season even with Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez being sidelined. Lynn has been dominant, sporting a 1.99 ERA with 105 strikeouts, and he’s brought even more to the table than Chicago probably could’ve expected. While he’s not a flamethrower, he’s a very skilled pitcher who knows how to maximize the effectiveness of every pitch in his arsenal, and he’s been a dream acquisition for the White Sox this year.
Honourable Mentions: Gerrit Cole, Robbie Ray, Kyle Gibson
NL Cy Young
Winner: Jacob DeGrom, New York Mets
If he’s poised to win MVP, he’ll obviously finish as the NL Cy Young winner too. Jacob deGrom holds this spot with zero debate. He’s the best pitcher in baseball, and there isn’t any starter on the planet in his tier right now. This is the easiest pick out of all these awards.
Runner Up: Kevin Gausman, San Francisco Giants
If you told me that Kevin Gausman would be looking like one of the best pitchers in the league going into the all-star break at the beginning of the season, I would have laughed right in your face. But here we are, and Gausman is having an exceptional season. The nine-year vet ranks second in the league in ERA (1.74) and is striking out batters at an impressive rate (10.3K’s/9). If it were any other year, Gausman would probably be the front runner for this award… It's too bad Jacob deGrom exists.
Honourable Mentions: Zack Wheeler, Brandon Woodruff, Max Scherzer
AL Rookie of the Year
Winner: Adolis Garcia, Texas Rangers
Garcia has been one of the lone bright spots in yet another lost season for the Rangers. The rookie has showcased his impressive power, leading all rookies in home runs (22), RBI (62), slugging percentage (.532), and OPS (.846) while also boasting a .273 batting average. Even though he does strike out a lot, his bat and above-average defence makes up for it.
Runner Up: Luis Garcia, Houston Astros
Another Garcia playing for a Texas team makes the cut, and this time it’s a guy who’s been shutting lineups down on the mound . The 24-year old starter has been excellent, sporting a 3.06 ERA and striking out over 10 batters per nine innings. He’s pitched many quality innings in his first full season, and if he keeps this pace going, there is no way the Astros miss the postseason. He isn’t outstanding at anything in particular at the moment, but his very well-rounded game leaves a lot to be desired as his career progresses.
Honourable Mentions: Randy Arozarena, Casey Mize, Emmanuel Clase
NL Rookie of the Year
Winner: Trevor Rogers, Miami Marlins
The Marlins haven’t had a lot going for them this year, but Rogers has been superb so far in his first full season. A 2.31 ERA is not what you expect from a rookie starter, but Rogers has been an exception. His nasty fastball combined with a wonderful changeup has been the recipe for success for Rogers, and it’s a reason he’s in the 85th percentile among all MLB starters in whiff rate. His stuff is disgusting, and it’s only going to get better. Miami better do something to help him while he’s still under team control.
Runner Up: Ian Anderson, Atlanta Braves
Ian Anderson hasn’t just been one of the best rookie starters in the league; he’s been one of the best starters in general. The 23-year old boasts a 3.27 ERA in 93.2 innings pitched to go along with 94 strikeouts in that span. He commands a fastball with a lot of movement that hovers around 94 mph, and a deadly 80 mph curveball to finish off . Not to mention this kid had an insane 0.96 ERA in 18.2 innings pitched in last year’s postseason. He’s going to be something special in the future.
Honourable Mentions: Dylan Carlson, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Jazz Chisholm Jr.
Breakout Player of the Year
Winner: Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles
A lone bright spot on a Baltimore Orioles squad that is having yet another lost season. Cedric Mullins has been one of the only productive hitters for the O’s, boasting a .316 batting average to go along with 16 home runs and 34 RBI plus his first ever all-star appearance. He’s tied for the AL lead in hits (105) and while he did fall out of first place for the AL lead in batting average, he still ranks in the top five heading into the all-star break.
Runner Up: Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers
There’s another ace caliber pitcher on the Brewers not named Brandon Woodruff or Corbin Burnes, and his name is Freddy Peralta. He’s been one of the best starting pitchers in the NL while gaining very little recognition, and it’s time he’s shown a little love. He came out of nowhere and is sporting a 2.39 ERA through 17 starts, while his 135 strikeouts are good for fourth in the NL. He could do a better job limiting walks, but all the surrounding redeeming qualities are more than enough to make up for that. Peralta has been one of many shining stars on a loaded staff in Milwaukee.
Honourable Mentions: Adam Frazier, Zack Wheeler, Jared Walsh, Kyle Gibson, Jesse Winker
Comeback Player of the Year
Winner: Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles
The date was late June 2020. Trey Mancini was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer, and battled against it for six months while undergoing chemotherapy. And yet, this man came back to play baseball after this intense battle. And to top it all off, he’s playing really well. Mancini owns a .254/.330/.449 to go along with 15 home runs and 53 RBI (which is an impressive feat since he plays on the Orioles). Mancini deserves this award even if he came back and did nothing, so it’s amazing to see him doing this well after his inspiring battle.
Runner Up: Robbie Ray, Toronto Blue Jays
This may seem like a stretch, but Robbie Ray is really good. It’s been a few years removed since his all-star campaign with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but it looks like he’s got his stuff under control again. The control issue which plagued him during the 2020 season is seemingly fixed, and now he’s just mowing down hitters left and right. He’s got 130 strikeouts on the season to go with a 3.13 ERA, and has quietly been one of the best starters in the AL this year. This could go down as the best season of his career so far if he continues this pace.
Honourable Mentions: Buster Posey, Kevin Gausman, Marcus Semien, Carlos Rodon, J.D. Martinez