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07/13/2004 Archived Entry: "MLB midseason awards"

MLB midseason awards
By Michael Toeset

If, heaven forfend, the 2004 season were to end today, there would be some unexpected names atop the leaderboard. But for the most part, the award winners wouldn’t be all that surprising. At the commencement of the season, experts threw around names like Guerrero, Bonds, Schilling, Johnson, et al, as the likely MVPs and Cy Youngs, and they wouldn’t be far off according to how the season has played out thus far.
There’s still several more months of baseball, however, and anything can happen. Vladimir Guerrero’s back could act up again. So could Scott Rolen’s. And Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson could begin to show their age. The merits of predicting a full season’s worth of games on only one half are open for debate, but the practice of naming award-winners at the All-Star break is, at the least, an entertaining look at what has been.
So, without further ado, we present’s midseason award-winners.

AL MVP: Manny Ramirez
Ramirez’s stats are uncannily identical to those of Guerrero’s, but Ramirez gets the nod based on his superior on-base percentage and slugging percentage (not to mention team record). Check out the comparison:
Manny: .344 AVG, 26 HR, 77 RBI, 55 R, .437 OBP, .682 SLG, 214 TB
Vlad: .345 AVG, 20 HR, 77 RBI, 73 R, .392 OBP, .591 SLG, 204 TB
Honorable mention: Ivan Rodriguez, who’s hitting .369 with 59 RBI for the lowly Tigers, and Michael Young, the sparkplug at the top of a dangerous Rangers’ lineup (and the man who was charged with the impossible task of making fans forget A-Rod), who’s hitting .332 and has 12 HR.

NL MVP: Scott Rolen
Rolen is having a career year and has been instrumental in pushing the Cardinals past the Cubs in the standings, having driven in 80 runs, is batting .339, has 18 HR and has an outstanding .981 fielding percentage at the hot corner.
Honorable mention: Bonds, of course. The Immortal is batting .365, has a god-like .628 OBP, an equally impressive .794 SLG and has 23 HR, 48 RBI and 71 R. Also worthy of mention are Jim Thome, who’s leading the majors with 28 HR, Todd Helton (.348, 17, 57) and Mr. Obscure himself, Lyle Overbay (.344, 10, 62 and 37 doubles).

AL CY YOUNG: Mark Mulder
Mulder is atop the wins leaderboard with 12 (against 2 losses), has a 3.21 ERA, is leading the majors with 131.7 innings pitched and has allowed only 9 HR. We always knew Mulder was something special, but he has proved it in a big way this season as Oakland has seen Tim Hudson go down to injury and Barry Zito suffer from a lack of control.
Honorable mention: Curt Schilling (11-4, 3.16 and 118 K), Javier Vazquez, who’s done for the Yankees what Mulder has done for the A’s, with a 10-5, 3.56, and Pedro Martinez (9-3, 3.67). By season’s end, Johan Santana may very well own the Cy Young. In the past month-and-a-half, he’s been virtually unhittable, but thanks to no run support, he’s only 7-6. He’s also second in the majors in strikeouts, with 136.

NL CY YOUNG: Jason Schmidt
Schmidt has almost single-handedly kept the Giants in the wild-card race with his exceptional pitching. He’s 11-2, 2.51 and 134 K at the break, and he is on pace to better nearly all his numbers from last season, when he became a true ace.
Honorable mention:
Old men Roger Clemens (10-3, 2.62 and 121 K) and Randy Johnson (10-7, 2.99, 145), and Carlos Zambrano, another Mulder-type (9-4, 2.61) and Ben Sheets (9-5, 2.26, 133). If Sheets were on a better team, he’d easily win the Cy Young this year. As it is, he’ll make it interesting. One of the more notable stats from the first half is Sheets’ control: He has only 13 walks in 123.3 innings. That’s nearly as exceptional as Bonds’ on-base percentage.

AL FIREMAN: Mariano Rivera
Rivera has been his usual lights-out self, but this season he’s having perhaps his best year. He has 32 saves in 33 chances and a 0.99 ERA. Other than his control (15 walks, as opposed to only 10 all last season), he should break all his season highs, including saves (50).
Honorable mention: Joe Nathan (1.13 ERA, 23/24 saves), Francisco Rodriguez (1.34 ERA, 7 saves filling in for Troy Percival and only 29 hits in 47 innings) and Shingo Takatsu (1.30 ERA, 5 saves since winning the role and a 0.81 WHIP).

NL FIREMAN: Armando Benitez
Benitez has admirably filled Ugeuth Urbina’s role as the Marlins’ “closer of fortune,” registering 30 saves in 32 chances, a 0.98 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP. He’s having a career year, and like Rivera, should set new personal season highs.
Honorable mention: Danny Graves (2.72 ERA, 33 saves), Danny Kolb (1.62 ERA, 26 saves) and Eric Gagne (1.85 ERA, 23 saves).

AL ROOKIE: Shingo Takatsu
Mr. Zero started the year slowly but than came on like gangbusters and has been nearly unhittable. His emergence even led to the White Sox’s trade of Billy Koch for a bag of balls. Takatsu isn’t the typical rookie, as he was the all-time saves leader in Japan before coming to the States, but he still qualifies and is more than deserving of the award.
Honorable mention: Bobby Crosby (.266 AVG, 11 HR), Lew Ford (.307 AVG, 9 HR, 10 SB) and Joe Mauer, who got himself injured but has nonetheless hit .311 with 6 HR in 106 AB.

NL ROOKIE: Akinori Otsuka
Hmm … a Japanese veteran as the top rookie. … Where have we heard this before? Otsuka has been invaluable to the Padres bullpen, and if Trevor Hoffman ever falters, the southpaw should ably step in to the closer’s role. Otsuka has a 2.34 ERA, 46 K in 42 IP and a 1.04 WHIP.
Honorable mention: Otsuka barely beat out Ryan Madson, basically on the strength of his WHIP. But Madson has been just as exceptional in the bullpen, logging a 2.03 ERA in 53 innings, with a 1.22 WHIP. Jason Bay has been coming on strong as of late and may end up the ROY. He’s batting .304 with 12 HR. Also in the running, although he’s lagging far behind at the moment, is Kazuo Matsui. Kaz was expected to be an impact player right away, something in the vein of Ichiro Suzuki, but he has started slowly, somewhat like Hideki Matsui last year. If “Metsui” continues as he has been playing recently, he may overtake the other rookies. He’s batting .269 with 7 HR and 12 SB.

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