The MLB season has reached the fake mid-point that is not really a mid-point at all. I attended the All-Star Game last night and had a wonderful time. Who am I kidding, I'm writing this before the game. I can't write something after the game, it will be like 1am when I get home. Traffic! Instead of writing about a very exciting event, here are some mid-season award winners/predictions for the National League! I predicted these awards back in March, but I'll gladly change my predictions based on MORE DATA!!!!!!!
Rookie of the Year
March Prediction - Billy Hamilton
Current Favorite - Billy Hamilton
New Prediction - Bill Hamilton
I'm making just a slight change to my March prediction, assuming that Billy Hamilton will shorten his name to "Bill" by the end of the season. That's exactly what happened when Billy Haywood was having a successful first season as a manager in Little Big League and we all know that life imitates art.
I thought Hamilton would literally run away with this award. I assumed that he would rack up massive stolen base totals and they would overshadow his otherwise lackluster production. I was half-right. Hamilton has 38 stolen bases and 6 triples AND his overall production has been good. Fangraphs has him at 3.2 WAR and his defense rates highly according to most measures. He has been an above-average offensive player even without the stolen bases.
Hamilton is figuratively running away with this award as well, as no other NL rookie is even close to his equal. Chris Owings is having a good season, but cannot compare to Hamilton. Unless Hamilton completely falls apart, he's already won this award in July.
Cy Young Award
March Prediction - Stephen Strasburg
Current Favorite - Adam Wainwright
New Prediction - Clayton Kershaw
I have a blind spot that allows me to only see Stephen Strasburg as the pitcher from his MLB debut. I will never forget that game and it continues to cloud my judgment. Strasburg is a great pitcher, but choosing him over Kershaw was both silly and stupid. Kershaw has proved that he is the best pitcher in baseball but I freaked out because he had a minor injury in March. Kershaw recently threw 41 scoreless innings, staring at me the entire time.
Wainwright would win this award if the season ended right now. Kershaw has been just as good, but Wainwright has pitched more. By the end of the season, that won't matter as much and Kershaw will probably have an ERA under 1 and a full beard.
Back to Strasburg, he is having a really great season. His luck stats are unfortunate. If those reverse, he could have a dominant second half. If he does, I get to boast about being right in March, while quietly deleting this section. I'll just pretend I got some ink on the Word doc and it can no longer be read.
March Prediction - Andrew McCutchen
Current Favorite - Troy Tulowitzki
New Prediction - Andrew McCutchen
Tulowitzki is always an MVP candidate, he just can't stay healthy. This season, he's played a lot of games and he's been ridiculously productive. In fact, he's been the best player in the National League, providing great value on offense and in the field. Of course, the Rockies are a terrible team and he has a pretty massive home-field advantage that shows up distinctly in his home/road splits.
Andrew McCutchen has been nearly Tulowitzki's equal, but has a less striking (albeit still present) home/road disparity. The Pirates are a pretty good team, and they seem to benefit from their superstar player. If you had to bet on who would stay healthy for the rest of the season, you'd be a fool to choose Tulowitzki over McCutchen. Although, I hope both stay completely healthy.
If you prefer an MVP candidate from a playoff team, then Carlos Gomez is your guy. I simply cannot believe that the same guy who used to swing at pitches that bounced is a legitimate MVP candidate just five years later. Here we are. Gomez has always had all the tools, but now he's utilizing them. Carlos Gomez is one of the best players in baseball. Read that again, Twins fans. Now, please stop vomiting and crying.
I still lean McCutchen because I think he is the best player in the National League. For me, MVP is the best player, and the word "valuable" was inserted by time travelers who wanted to instigate fights between writers and fans. The gap between Tulowitzki and McCutchen has been slowly closing and McCutchen is too dynamic too be contained.
March Prediction - Los Angeles Dodgers
Current Favorite - Los Angeles Dodgers
New Prediction - Washington Nationals
Last year, I vowed to pick the Nationals every single year until they actually won the World Series. I stayed true to that vow for exactly one year, abandoning them for the Dodgers in March. Well, I'm back! The Dodgers have been great so far, but the Nationals aren't far behind. The Dodgers have great pitching, but so do the Nationals. The Dodgers have had the better offense, but the Nationals haven't had Bryce Harper for the majority of the season.
Which brings me to the main reason behind my Nationals prediction: I think Harper is going to absolutely explode in the second half. Well, figuratively. We've been hearing about his power and potential for so long, it seems like the time is right for his breakout. Looking for a breakout is a bit unfair, considering he was a really great player last season. However, he wasn't the player everyone expected, so he'll need to surpass being great to meet his lofty expectations. I think he joins the elite in the second half.
With Harper exploding, Strasburg's luck improving (hopefully) and solid players everywhere else, I think the Nationals will reach the World Series in 2014. I have returned to my Nationals Vow and it feels really good. On Friday, I'll complete this same exercise in the American League. Mike Trout. Mike Trout Mike Trout. Mike Trout, Mike Trout. Mike Trout. Mike Trout Mike Trout Mike Trout. See you then!