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Clubhouse Leaders: MLB Awards Edition 2022 – Midseason

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First things first: I recognize that the headline of this piece is not wholly accurate. We’ve actually moved past the midway mark as we make our way to the All-Star break next week. Still, it seems like as good a time as any to check in with our Clubhouse Leaders.

As we expected, things have started to shake themselves out as far as the MLB season is concerned. Per usual, we’re looking at plenty of familiar names in contention for the various season awards, but we’ve also got a couple of surprises sprinkled into the mix.

There’s been a fair amount of shakeup in the time since we did our first quarter check-in, with some prominent names falling off a bit and some new faces forcing their way into the conversation. Such is the joy of baseball – when you’ve got 162 games to play, the ebb and flow is going to be significant.

Still, 80 or 90 games is a pretty solid sample size; we’re starting to get a sense of how many of these seasons are going to shake out. That isn’t to say we know what’s going to happen – there’s always uncertainty. Heck, we’ve got six different leaders out of six here. That’s why we play the games.

This is Clubhouse Leaders.

(Statistics current through July 10)

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AL Rookie of the Year

Julio Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners (First quarter: Jeremy Pena, Houston Astros)

It’s kind of hard to believe that Rodriguez is here, considering just how abysmal his performance in April was. But since the calendar flipped to May, Rodriguez has been an absolute star, flashing a combination of power and speed that equals that of just about any player in the bigs. He leads AL rookies in homers AND steals, as well as runs scored, RBI, slugging percentage and OPS. Pena – our first quarter leader – is still very much in the mix, though he’s had some issues staying on the field of late. The former Black Bear has plenty of time to get back on track though – don’t sleep on him making a second-half push. Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. is also making some waves, though he remains a pretty distant third. From there, it’s an even bigger drop – it seems almost certain that it will be one of these three.

(Also noteworthy: Pena; Witt; Joe Ryan, Minnesota Twins; Brock Burke, Texas Rangers)

NL Rookie of the Year

Michael Harris, Atlanta Braves (First quarter: Luis Gonzalez, San Francisco Giants)

This is a perfect example of how drastically these races can shift. Last time out, Michael Harris had only just been called up. Now, he’s pretty easily the midseason choice for NL ROY. In what is essentially a quarter of a season, he has managed seven homers and seven steals while batting .300, slugging .500 and playing phenomenal centerfield. Plus, his appearance coincided directly with his team catching fire. It helps his case that no one else really ran away with it – Gonzalez is still plugging along, as is Cubs outfielder Christopher Morel. On the pitching side, Spencer Strider – a teammate of Harris – has been the best rookie hurler in the NL. This one is still wide open, though if Harris can maintain anything close to this level of performance, he’ll likely get the nod despite perhaps not having the playing time of his peers.

(Also noteworthy: Gonzalez; Morel; Strider; Brendan Donovan, St. Louis Cardinals)

AL Cy Young Award

Shane McClanahan, Tampa Bay Rays (First quarter: Justin Verlander, Houston Astros)

This was tight. So tight, in fact, that I almost kept Verlander in the top slot. However, upon closer inspection, I had to give the nod to McClanahan. This guy is flat-out dominating the AL – he leads the league in strikeouts, ERA, WHIP and batting average against. If there’s an indicator of pitching excellence, he’s topping the AL in it. The scary part is how close a case Verlander still makes. He sits second to McClanahan in ERA, WHIP and BAA – and not far behind in any of them – while leading the league in wins. The biggest difference – and it’s a big one – is in Ks; Verlander just squeaks into the top 10, over 40 behind McClanahan. There are a couple of other guys having great years – I’ve loved what I’ve seen from Toronto’s Alex Manoah, while Chicago’s Dylan Cease is an even better strikeout artist than McClanahan on a per-nine basis. All that being said, the nod has to go to McClanahan.

(Also noteworthy: Verlander; Manoah; Cease; Nestor Cortes, New York Yankees; Framber Valdez, Houston Astros)

NL Cy Young Award

Sandy Alcantara, Miami Marlins (First quarter: Pablo Lopez, Miami Marlins)

Sandy Alcantara is giving us a real throwback of a season. In a time when five innings is a perfectly reasonable expectation for a starter, Alcantara blows by it – he goes at least seven seemingly every time out, maintaining a high level of performance as he does so. How high? Dude is second in ERA, third in WHIP and third in BAA, all while throwing 20 more innings than anyone else in the league. He’s fourth in strikeouts and tied for third in wins. He throws more than anyone else and is better than almost everyone else in those innings – he’s the guy. L.A.’s Tony Gonsolin is just a tick behind, despite his 11-0 record and league-leading ERA and WHIP; there’s something that feels very smoke-and-mirrors about Gonsolin’s season – he’ll have to maintain into the fall for me (and many others) to fully buy in. For now, it’s Alcantara, with Gonsolin and Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes just behind.

(Also noteworthy: Gonsolin; Burnes; Joe Musgrove, San Diego Padres; Max Fried, Atlanta Braves)

AL MVP

Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (First quarter: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels)

I’ll be honest when I say I don’t really care for this as a lifelong Yankee hater, but man, Aaron Judge is just hitting the crap out of the ball. He’s leading the league in homers (30 as of this writing) and runs scored and sitting second in RBI and slugging. His other numbers might not be quite as gaudy, but when you’re that dominant on the power front, who even cares? If you want to argue that Houston’s Yordan Alvarez is having an even more impressive offensive season, I’d understand – dude’s slashing .300/.400/.650, which is insane. Meanwhile, Shohei Ohtani continues to give us the full Tungsten Arm O’Doyle experience and Mike Trout is still Mike Trout, putting up numbers and generally being awesome at baseball. You could make a real case for any of these dudes as MVP, and a couple of others besides, but in the end, much as it pains me, Judge seems to be on the winning trajectory.

(Also noteworthy: Alvarez; Ohtani; Trout; Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox; Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Guardians)

NL MVP

Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals (First quarter: Manny Machado, San Diego Padres)

When a player starts putting up numbers that favorably compare with some of the greatest seasons ever, you pretty much have to put them into the mix for MVP consideration. That’s where we’re at with Goldschmidt, who is currently in line for a slash Triple Crown, leading the NL in batting average, OBP and slugging (all by comfortable margins, I might add). He also leads in hits and runs scored and sits third in RBI and seventh in homers. He even has five steals. Just a phenomenal season underway here. Bryce Harper would likely be closer if he hadn’t missed some games – he’s second in average and slugging, fourth in OBP. Machado has continued his strong season, though he’s fallen off a bit after a hot start. And there are a few Dodgers who warrant consideration as well, led by Trea Turner. As of now, though, this is Goldschmidt’s to lose.

(Also noteworthy: Harper; Machado; Turner; Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers; Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers)

Last modified on Wednesday, 13 July 2022 06:54

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