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Clubhouse Leaders 2018: MLB Awards Edition - Midseason

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Yes, yes, I know. We tend to view the All-Star break as midseason and that’s not for a couple more weeks. However, when you’re reading this, we’re going to be right around the 80-game mark, which is the ACTUAL middle of a 162-game season.

And so here we are with Clubhouse Leaders.

At the season’s midway point, some of the first-quarter picks have definitely fallen by the wayside, but for the most part, the usual suspects are doing their usual thing. A few of them have even managed to somehow find yet another gear, launching them into the stratosphere and making us genuinely question what their ceiling might actually be (looking at you, Mike Trout).

Anyway, we’re looking at some remarkable performances at the halfway point. Let’s see where we stand.

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AL Rookie of the Year

Gleybar Torres, New York Yankees (First quarter: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels)

Now, we all know that if Shohei Ohtani hadn’t gotten hurt, he’d have run away with this award. The first legitimate two-way player in a century? Yeah – he’d have had to be REAL bad not to win this in a walk. But he did, and so we get Gleybar Torres, who is leading qualified rookies in home runs, RBI, batting average and OPS. It feels a little smoke-and-mirrors, but the fact is that the numbers are there. He’s a good player, but he’s not historic, so it’s a little disappointing.

(Also noteworthy: Miguel Andujar, New York; Joey Wendle, Tampa; Max Stassi, Houston; Fernando Romero, Minnesota)

NL Rookie of the Year

Juan Soto, Washington Nationals (First quarter: Colin Moran, Pittsburgh Pirates)

It’s WAY too early for me to be making this pick. Soto hasn’t played even half of Washington’s games; he just got called up in mid-May. And yet – in just 100 or so at-bats, he’s made his case. He’s already among the NL rookie leaders in homers and has put up ludicrous slash stats, clearing the .300/.400/.500 bar with ease; his OPS sits over 1.000. Even if he cools off considerably, he’ll be making a monster case. There are some other contenders, but Soto’s the man.

(Also noteworthy: Moran; Walker Buehler, Los Angeles; Brian Anderson, Miami; Jack Flaherty, St. Louis; Christian Villanueva, San Diego)

AL Cy Young Award

Justin Verlander, Houston Astros (First quarter: Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros)

There were a handful of guys that could have warranted that first quarter pick – Verlander among them – but it was Verlander who not only maintained but improved his exceptional pace. He’s leading all AL starters in both ERA and WHIP and sits comfortable in the top-five in strikeouts. Cole still has an argument, despite falling off from his impossible-to-maintain early pace, while Cleveland’s Corey Kluber is having his own exceptional season. Still, Verlander has managed to rise above the cluster of excellence just below him.

(Also noteworthy: Cole; Kluber; Charlie Morton, Houston; Blake Snell, Tampa; Chris Sale, Boston; Luis Severino, New York)

NL Cy Young Award

Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals (First quarter: Scherzer)

Scherzer remains the favorite for a third straight Cy Young Award; his numbers remain outstanding. He leads the league in pitcher wins, innings pitched and strikeouts. He’s at or near the top of the league in every relevant rate stat. He’s the class of the NL. His only real competition is probably New York’s Jacob deGrom, but while he has been lights-out, the lack of team support likely leaves him on the outside looking in. That being said, this is very much Scherzer’s award to lose; if he stays healthy, he’ll win it with ease.

(Also noteworthy: deGrom; Jon Lester, Chicago; Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta; Aaron Nola, Philadelphia)

AL MVP

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (First quarter: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox)

Who else can it be? This season – particularly the last month – has seen Mike Trout, already the consensus best player in baseball, somehow get even better. He’s among the AL leaders in stats like batting average and slugging while leading by a mile in on-base percentage. Oh, and he’s leading the league in homers AND walks (with more walks than Ks to boot). He even has double-digit steals. He’s on pace to have the best season EVER per WAR. So yeah – he’s your MVP. In any other universe, Mookie Betts wins this award. But this timeline has Trout, so … not even a homer like me can in good conscience pick anyone else.

(Also noteworthy: Betts; Jose Altuve, Houston; J.D. Martinez, Boston; Jose Ramirez, Cleveland; Aaron Judge, New York; Eddie Rosario, Minnesota)

NL MVP

Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves (First quarter: Freeman)

This was probably the toughest pick of the first quarter, but it’s a bit less difficult this time around. Freeman has continued his pace as one of the NL’s best all-around hitters, battling for the batting title while leading the league in OPS (sitting just shy of the top in both OBP and slugging). He’s also in the top-10 in hits, home runs, RBI, runs scored, walks – pretty much every counting stat that matters. There are other guys having great years – Colorado’s Nolan Arenado has been excellent, as has Cincinnati’s Scooter Gennett, while Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo has come out of nowhere to have a blazing hot first half. Still, as of now, it’s Freeman all the way.

(Also noteworthy: Arenado; Gennett; Nimmo; Brandon Belt, San Francisco; Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati; Matt Kemp, Los Angeles; Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona)

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