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As the MLB hits the midway point in the next week, the unpredictability that is the sport is alive and well.
There have already been two perfect games and three no-hitters, one which took six pitchers to accomplish the feat.
Josh Hamilton had a four home run game, something that Carlos Delgado in 2003 had been the last to accomplish.
A knuckleballer has stolen the show as the games best pitcher.
Both the Tigers and Phillies â€“ who many thought would be among the best in their respective leagues â€“ sit three and five games below .500 respectively.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are two games behind the NL Central leading Cincinnati Reds, sitting at 39-35 with MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen leading their offensive charge.
Many thought the Chicago White Sox had the potential to lose 90 games or more, but right now theyâ€™re in first place under first-year manager Robin Ventura in the AL Central at 40-35.
The first half of the season has also seen two preseason MVP candidates land on the DL.
Matt Kemp was a preseason favorite to win the MVP and his early season numbers definitely fueled those talks before he landed on the DL twice with a bum hamstring.
After a tumultuous offseason, things didnâ€™t get much better for the Boston Red Sox as 7 games into the season Jacoby Ellsbury suffered a dislocated shoulder on a hard slide into second base. Ellsbury was looking to build on a 32-homer, 39-stolen base season from a year ago.
The defending World Series champions have also had their fair share of injuries. The Cardinals have been without former Cy Young-winner Chris Carpenter for the whole season, Lance Berkman since mid-may, and a handful of others over the course of the season.
Even with the rash of injuries, the Cardinals still only sit two games back in the NL Central. St. Louis always does a great job hanging around so weâ€™ll have to see what happens if and when they finally get healthy.
When focusing on the surprises of the first half from individual players, the list has to start with the most highly sought after free agent in MLB history in Albert Pujols. After going 33 games to start the season the without a homer the veteran slugger is batting on 260 which is well below his 325 career average.
Other former all-stars who are vastly underperforming compared to their career averages are Braves catcher Brian McCann and Red Sox first basemen Adrian Gonzalez.
With the underperformers, there are of course those who are excelling. The following is a list of the award winners at the halfway point.
AL MVP: Josh Hamilton
Runner-ups: Mike Trout, Paul Konerko, Robinson Cano, ???
Why Hamilton: Hamilton has done his best to put a troubled offseason behind him by putting up fantastic numbers in hopes of getting a long-term contract with the Rangers. With a .312 batting average, 24 home runs, and 67 RBI Hamilton sits in the top ten in all the major offensive categories. Heâ€™s also on a team with the best record in baseball.
The case for the rest: Since Trout was called up, the Angels have been on a tear and so has the rookie, batting an American league best .344 and 21 stolen bases.
Konerko at the age of 36 is third in the AL with a 333 average and is the leader for the first-place White Sox both on and off the field.
This is a bit of a stretch, but Robinson Cano has the best numbers on arguably the best team in baseball. Itâ€™s hard to keep him out of the discussion.
The final spot features question marks because there are plenty of fringe players and no one truly has separated himself. Some names to keep an eye on are Adrian Beltre, Mark Trumbo, Miguel Cabrera, Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, and Jared Weaver.
NL MVP: Joey Votto
Runner-ups: Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Yadier Molina/ Carlos Ruiz
Why Votto: A big reason the Reds are in first place is because of Joey Votto and his .353 average and otherworldly .478 on base percentage. Votto has capable sidekicks in Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips but his plate discipline puts him a step above. Votto has walked more than anyone in Major League Baseball and has the highest wins-above-replacement (WAR) rating of any player in the National League. As long as the Reds and Votto keep playing the way they have been expect Votto to take home the MVP at the end of the season.
The case for the rest: The Pirates have scored the second fewest runs in all of baseball, but Andrew McCutchen is not the reason why. McCutchen is batting .336 with 14 home runs, 48 RBI, and 14 stolen bases for the surprising Pirates.
Doing his best to fill the void left from Albert Pujols, Carlos Beltran is batting .312 and leads the NL in both home runs with 20 and RBI with 59. Beltran is a big reason why the Cardinals are staying afloat with all the injuries theyâ€™ve had.
As the fences moved in, David Wrightâ€™s numbers have gone way up. Wright is really the only threat in the Mets lineup, batting .357 and has the Mets contending in the NL East.
Catchers who can control a game behind the plate and put up good offensive numbers are hardly dime-a-dozen but Yadier Molina and Carlos Ruiz are doing just that. Both are batting well above .300 and will make it very hard for voters to choose an All-Star starter and Gold Glove winner.
AL Cy- Young: Chris Sale
Runner Ups: Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, David Price, CC Sabathia
Why Sale: Quickly emerging as the best left-hander in baseball is 23-year-old Chris Sale. With a 9-2 record, 2.27 ERA, and the second lowest WHIP in the AL, Sale is already drawing comparisons to Randy Johnson, who won 300 games in the majors. Aside from a slight injury scare earlier in the season, Sale has been dominant every 5th day for the 1st place White Sox.
The case for the rest: Whenever talking about the AL Cy Young, Tigers workhorse Justin Verlander has to be included. Heâ€™s leading the league in strikeouts and innings pitched. Heâ€™s a close second and could claim his 2nd straight Cy if Saleâ€™s innings are limited late in the season.
With a no-hitter and an 8-1 record, Jared Weaver is putting up great numbers, the only thing holding him back was a trip to the DL.
David Price and CC Sabathia are the two best pitchers in the AL East and two of the best in all of baseball. A recent trip to the DL for Sabathia might push Price over the edge.
NL Cy-Young:Â R.A. Dickey
Runner-Ups: Matt Cain, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Cole Hamels
Why Dickey: Itâ€™s a toss up between he and Matt Cain but Dickey gets the slight edge. The 37-year-old knuckleballer has reinvented both his career and how the knuckler is perceived.Â Dickey throws it much harder then previous knuckle ballers did. Dickey is 11-1 this year, tying for the most wins heâ€™s had in an entire season. His current 2.31 ERA would be the lowest heâ€™s ever had, and at 106 strikeouts, he needs only 28 to tie his high for a single season.
The case for the rest: As mentioned above, the contest between Cain and Dickey was a tossup. The Giants ace has two fewer wins but has a lower ERA, one more strikeout, and a slightly lower WHIP.
Stephen Strasburg has rebounded quite well from Tommy John surgery, posting a 9-2 record with 118 strikeouts, and a 2.60 ERA. Leading the NL in strikeouts, heâ€™s thrown about 10 fewer innings then anyone else. His teammate Gio Gonzalez is second in strikeouts with 108 and has a 2.78 ERA, forming a dynamic 1-2 punch atop the Nationalsâ€™ starting rotation.
After admitting to hitting Bryce Harper on purpose, Cole Hamels got plenty of attention for all the wrong reasons. What people should be focusing on his stats â€“ heâ€™s 10-3 with 106 strikeouts and a 3.03 ERA.
AL Rookie Of The Year: Mike Trout
Runner up: Yu Darvish
Why Trout: Trout has provided a spark at the top of the order for the white-hot Angels. Los Angeles is 37-19 since his call up and is now leading the wild card race. Trout has been better then advertised as heâ€™s so far shown there isnâ€™t a hole in his game.
The case for the rest: Since coming over from Japan, Darvish has pitched quite well for the first-place Rangers. The 25 year old is 10-4 with 106 strikeouts and is making his case to be an American League All-Star. Darvish has been one of the few Texas pitchers able to stay healthy this season, as the injury bug has bitten the team early and often.
NL Rookie Of the Year: Wade Miley
Runner-ups: Bryce Harper, Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Why Miley: One might be surprised to see Bryce Harper not taking home the award, but heâ€™s been in the majors for only the past couple months and his numbers have been slipping as of late. Miley has been the best pitcher on the Diamondbacks roster so far this year. Heâ€™s 9-3 with a 2.19 ERA, far better than what 20 game winner Ian Kennedy has done so far this season.
The case for the rest: Harper has come in with all the attention a prospect can get and has shown flashes of brilliance, but hasnâ€™t shown that consistency quite yet. He still has been the best position player for the first place Nationals and could easily over take Miley later in the season.
The Mets donâ€™t have much offense, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis has been putting solid numbers, batting .275 with 7 homers. Heâ€™ll be the sleeper in this voting for the rest of the season.