The All-Star break is upon us, so it seems a fitting time to look back at the first half of the season. The MVP, Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards are set to be closely fought throughout the remainder of the campaign, but if the season ended today, who would win them?
We’ve gone through all six awards from both leagues and picked our victors…
American League MVP – Mike Trout
We can pretend that there’s a discussion about this, but there really shouldn’t be.
Trout hasn’t won MVP since 2016. He was pipped by an historic Mookie Betts season in 2018, and injury held him back in 2017. No one is all that close to Trout in 2019, as he is somehow still improving.
He’s already one the greatest baseball players in history. Assuming he stays healthy, he’s heading for his third MVP.
National League MVP – Cody Bellinger
Splitting Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger this season is a near-impossible task. The pair are on for record-crushing seasons, having combined for 61 first-half homers, the two left-handers (along, of course, with Trout) are a country mile ahead of the chasing pack. (All three have wRC+ in the 180s, the next highest is Pete Alonso at 161).
As hitters, Yelich and Bellinger are almost carbon copies. Elsewhere, though, there are a couple of notable differences. Yelich is a bigger threat on the bases, he’s already stolen 19 bases to Bellinger’s eight. Bellinger is by far the better fielder – he’s elite on Statcast’s outs above average and outfielder jump, while Yelich ranks near the bottom in both categories.
The Gold Glove defence of Bellinger just gives him the edge here, but there’s not really a wrong answer.
American League Cy Young – Mike Minor
It’s a straight shootout between Mike Minor and Justin Verlander for the American Cy Young right now. Minor leads baseball in pitching bWAR, though, and has over a 40-point advantage on ERA over Verlander.
Injuries to Luis Severino and Corey Kluber have made it a thin field, while Trevor Bauer and Chris Sale lurk as dark horses at the All-Star break. Bauer or Sale could make a push in the second half and muscle their way into the Minor-Verlander conversation. Charlie Morton is worthy of consideration, too.
Minor just pips Verlander as it stands. It could all change quickly when the schedule resumes, though, and if a vote was held now, there’s a good chance Verlander would win.
National League Cy Young – Hyun-Jin Ryu
None of them can rival Ryu’s numbers, though. The South Korean left-hander has a sub-two ERA after 17 starts and a WHIP that is only a smidgen about the 0.8s. Ryu was very, very good in 15 starts last season, and he’s built on it this year.
The Dodgers’ domination has been as much down to their starting pitching as their scary line-up. Ryu with a deep pitch arsenal has become an elite starter – he’s well on track to pip Scherzer, Castillo and Greinke to the top prize.
American League Rookie of the Year – Brandon Lowe
While Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez suffer some first-year teething problems, Brandon Lowe has excelled for the Rays, posting an OPS above .850. Lowe was even called up to the All-Star game, but was forced to pull out through injury.
Sluggers Yordan Alvarez – who has been on fire for the Astros – and Michael Chavis are contenders for the award along with Vlad Jr. Alvarez needs to get more games under his belt to be considered, though, while Chavis needs to boost his production a bit.
National League Rookie of the Year – Pete Alonso
The National League Rookie of the Year is incredibly hard to pick. Chris Paddack, Fernando Tatis Jr., Bryan Reynolds and Alex Verdugo all have strong cases to win this hypothetical halfway point award.
It’s Pete Alonso who gets the nod from us, though. Alonso has broken countless records in his hotly anticipated rookie year with the New York Mets, as he’s crushed his way to an OPS over 1.000 and 30 homers.