No father and son combo ever has won an MVP in MLB. Barry Bonds won seven times and his dad, Bobby, finished as high as third in 1973. Cecil Fielder landed second twice and his son, Prince, was third...
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No father and son combo ever has won an MVP in MLB. Barry Bonds won seven times and his dad, Bobby, finished as high as third in 1973. Cecil Fielder landed second twice and his son, Prince, was third twice. Felipe Alou was fifth in 1966 and his son, Moises, twice was third.
So what Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has a chance to do — win an MVP as his dad did in 2004 — is unique. And all plaudits to him for a first half in which he hit better than anyone else, often in an environment before a crackdown on pitchers advantageously using illegal sticky substances. Guerrero led the AL in on-base percentage, and was second batting average and slugging
But I have seen offensive performances like that of Guerrero Jr. And Cedric Mullins. And Xander Bogaerts. And I have at least seen father and son come close to both winning MVPs.
I have never seen anything like the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani. You would have to be well over 100 years old to have seen anything like it. You would have had to have seen the greatest player ever, Babe Ruth in 1918-19, to see one player excelling as a regular pitcher and arguably the scariest hitter in the world. Ohtani is not only the first half AL MVP, but also he is the MVP for a sport trying to broaden appeal, in part, by creating mesmerizing stars.
In that area, it has been a good half for MLB, with youngsters such as Guerrero, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Ronald Acuna Jr. — the Junior Mints of this game — bringing youthful electricity while Jacob deGrom offered thunder. Yet, there has been no one like Ohtani. Even with his seven-run, two-out implosion Wednesday in The Bronx, he had pitched to a 3.60 ERA in 12 starts and was striking out 32.3 percent of batters — a higher percentage than Yu Darvish, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Wheeler.
Heading into Saturday, he had hit 30 homers, three more than anyone else. He had four triples, which tied for the AL lead. He had 11 steals, making him the first AL player to ever be a 30-10 guy through 81 games (halfway through a 162-game season). He led the majors with a .705 slugging percentage, or the same as Mickey Mantle’s when he won the Triple Crown in 1956. We wondered if anyone could pitch and hit at a decent level simultaneously. Injury mainly raised the doubt if Ohtani could do it in his first three Angels seasons. There is no doubt midway through his fourth.
WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is designed to encompass a full player — so for a position player, his hitting, defense and baserunning. Ohtani had a 3.5 WAR as a position player and 1.6 as a pitcher (Baseball Reference). Add it together, it is 5.1. Tatis led traditional players at 4.5. And Ohtani had a different WAR — Wow Above Replacement. The player who most took our breath away with the abundance of talent was an Angel, and his name was not Mike Trout. In fact, Trout missed half of the first half, and Ohtani’s two-way talent kept the Angels relevant.
Can Ohtani endure? Let’s hope so because it is just so great to watch. It is downright Ruthian.
- Guerrero, Blue Jays. 3. Carlos Correa, Astros. 4. Bogaerts, Red Sox. 5. Rafael Devers, Red Sox.
Gleyber Torres, Yankees
There are worse players in the AL, and there are even worse players on the Yankees. There is, however, no more disappointing player. As young stars carry teams elsewhere, Torres’ bat has gone limp. He amazingly has been a better shortstop than hitter — and he is not much of a shortstop. He was central to the Yankees’ offense being the most disappointing unit in the majors the first half, to the point at which we will give the top five exclusively to them.
- Clint Frazier, Yankees. 3. Brett Gardner, Yankees 4. Aaron Hicks, Yankees. 5. Luke Voit, Yankees.
Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
Despite two stints on the injured list, Tatis still led the NL in homers, was second in steals and was first in jaw-dropping moments. I do favor the position player in this award when it is close. Jacob deGrom, like Tatis, missed time this year, and the only real nick on his “value” is that he was 29th in innings in the NL pitching for a Mets team that, due to injury in the rotation and overreliance on the bullpen, can use every inning he can offer.
How do you differentiate the most valuable players on the Nationals (Trea Turner vs. Kyle Schwarber) and Giants (Buster Posey vs. Brandon Crawford)?
- DeGrom, Mets. 3. Acuna, Braves. 4. Turner, Nationals. 5. Posey, Giants.
Francisco Lindor, Mets
There are far worse players in the NL — Phillies third baseman Alex Bohm has gone from nearly winning Rookie of the Year in 2020 to possibly hurting his team on both sides of the ball more than anyone in the sport. Lindor’s defense has been central to the dramatic uptick for the Mets in the field. And his OPS has climbed by month from .542 to .637 to .765. But if the Mets had just hit in the first half, they would be comfortably ahead in the NL East. No one had a worse ratio on the club of pedigree to failure than Lindor.
- Bohm, Phillies. 3. Paul DeJong, Cardinals. 4. Jackie Bradley Jr., Brewers. 5. Jason Heyward, Cubs.
AL CY YOUNG
Gerrit Cole, Yankees
So much of the pitching results are clouded by the before and after of stronger enforcement of illegal tacky substances. There will be a larger body of results at the end of the year about who did best (and worst) after the MLB issued its memo June 3, in which it stated it would be cracking down on usage. I will give a top-five hat tip to Oakland’s Chris Bassit, because he has strong overall numbers, but he has been particularly good in the crackdown period. For now, the full body of work favors Cole for a combination of durability and excellence.
- Carlos Rodon, White Sox. 3. Kyle Gibson, Rangers. 4. Yusei Kikuchi, Mariners. 5. Bassit, A’s.
AL Anti-CY YOUNG
Kenta Maeda, Twins
Minnesota is the majors’ most disappointing team, and its pitching has doomed the club. So there are plenty of culprits here — such as Alex Colome, J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker. But Maeda has fallen from second in last year’s AL Cy Young voting to having one quality start in 12 chances this year.
- Jameson Taillon, Yankees. 3. Dylan Bundy, Angels. 4. Matt Harvey, Orioles. 5. Wade Davis, Royals.
NL CY YOUNG
Jacob deGrom, Mets
In his two “subpar” starts to close the first half, the righty allowed eight hits, walked one and struck out 19 in 13 innings. His ERA rose from 0.50 to 0.95. There have been some durability issues so far, but none about greatness. DeGrom has struck out 45.3 percent of the hitters he has faced. Among qualifying pitchers, Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes was next best at 37.3. DeGrom was walking just 3.7 percent — only Philadelphia’s Zack Eflin (2.9) was better. His batting average against was .122, best in the majors. If deGrom allowed 22 straight hits to open his next start, his batting average against this year would still be under .200.
The Mets’ run prevention has been stellar this year. Now, imagine it with Zack Wheeler — the one-time fragile Mets starter who leads the majors in innings and the Baseball Reference version of pitching WAR.
- Wheeler, Phillies. 3. Kevin Gausman, Giants. 4. Brandon Woodruff, Brewers. 5. Trevor Rogers, Marlins.
NL Anti-CY YOUNG
Jake Arrieta, Cubs
Since winning the 2015 NL Cy Young with a 1.77 ERA, Arrieta’s yearly ERAs are 3.10, 3.53, 3.96, 4.64, 5.08 and 5.57 this year. He has five starts this season of fewer than four innings and five or more runs — no one else in the NL has more than three.
- Patrick Corbin, Nationals. 3. Blake Snell, Padres. 4. Luis Castillo, Reds. 5. Carlos Martinez, Cardinals.
AL Manager of the Year
Alex Cora, Red Sox
Most managers are neutral, perhaps negatives. Few are big difference-makers. Cora is a big difference-maker. His story has to include a suspension for 2020 for his involvement in the sign-stealing scandal when he was the Astros’ bench coach in 2017. His story also has to include that his Red Sox clubs play aggressively and confidently when he is in charge.
And here I will admit, I don’t know what to make of Tony La Russa. There were moments early this year in which he seemed disconnected from the modern sport and his team. Yet, the White Sox have sustained devastating injuries to their positional core and yet maintained the AL Central lead. Is that because the talent is still good and the division is so bad? Or is La Russa — after a decade removed from the dugout — still a terrific game manager? Maybe all of that is accurate.
- Dusty Baker, Astros. 3. Bob Melvin, A’s. 4. Kevin Cash, Rays. 5. La Russa, White Sox.
NL Manager of the Year
Craig Counsell, Brewers
You could go a few ways here, particularly citing the work of San Francisco’s Gabe Kapler, who is regenerating his reputation after a terrible stint with the Phillies. But I feel similarly about Counsell as I do about Cora. Counsell is the best manager in the league. He takes not just changing talent annually in Milwaukee, but shifting strengths and weaknesses of a team and makes it work.
- Kapler, Giants. 3. Luis Rojas, Mets. 4. David Ross, Cubs. 5. Dave Martinez, Nationals.
AL Rookie of the Year
Casey Mize, Tigers
The righty was 1-5 with a 6.28 ERA through his first 11 starts (seven in a cameo last year and four this season). Since then he has pitched befitting the No. 1-overall pick in the 2018 draft: 4-3 with a 3.06 ERA averaging while holding opponents to a .217 batting average. He and fellow rookie Tarik Skubal are hinting at being the cornerstone of an emerging Detroit rotation.
It is such an impressive AL rookie class that Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena (yep, he still qualifies as a rookie) and two former Yankees farmhands, Oakland starter James Kaprielian and Boston reliever Garrett Whitlock, didn’t make the top five, despite strong cases to do so.
- Adolis Garcia, Rangers. 3. Akil Baddoo, Tigers. 4. Luis Garcia, Astros. 5. Emmanuel Clase, Indians.
NL Rookie of the Year
Trevor Rogers, Marlins
Like Mize, he had a seven-start cameo last year that did not go well (6.11 ERA). In 16 starts this year, though, the lefty has never allowed more than three runs in pitching to a 2.14 ERA. Miami appears destined for last in the NL East and a trade of its best hitter, Starling Marte, but any contender that has to face Rogers, Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez in the second half is going to face one of the best starter trios in the majors. Pittsburgh’s Ke’Bryan Hayes missed most of April and all of May with an injury, but he is so talented he could rally from here to win this award.
- Ian Anderson, Braves. 3. Dylan Carlson, Cardinals. 4. Jonathan India, Reds. 5. Patrick Wisdom, Cubs.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Joel Sherman