By Rod Nunez
July 10, 2019
First half of the season is in the books with plenty of storylines, surprises and disappointments.
Ahead we've highlighted our midseason awards, biggest surprises and disappointments so far this season. There's still another half a season left, so a lot can change between now and the end of the season.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers: The left handed slugger posted video game type of numbers in April, when he finished the month with a .431/.508/.890 triple slash line, a 1.397 OPS and 14 long balls. Currently he sits at .336/.432/.692 with 30 HR's, while leading the National League in runs scored (70), on base percentage (.432), OPS + (191) and total bases (220).
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels: is this a surprise? Not for us! Mike Trout, once again, seems to be the best player, by far, in the American League. He finished the first half with a .301/.453/.643 line. Trout leads the American League in HR's (26), OBP (.453), slugging (.646), OPS (1.098), OPS + (191), Total Bases (195) and not surprising, Intentional Walks (11).
Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers: This season, no starter is pitching better than Ryu, who boasts a 10-2 win-loss record with a league leading 1.73 ERA. He also leads the league in ERA + (241), WHIP (0.908), BB/9 (0.8) and SO/W (9.90). Making him a clear choice for this recognition.
Charlie Morton, Tampa Bay Rays: Morton edges out the competition by posting a 10-2 win-loss record with a league leading 2.32 ERA and 2.84 FIP aside from these categories, his overall body of work includes a solid 2.9 BB/9 and 11.3 SO/9.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Pete Alonso, New York Mets: Mets fans haven't had much to cheer for this season, but Alonso, the current Home Run Derby Champ, has emerged as a franchise cornerstone after finishing the first half with a .280/.372/.634 line to go with a 1.006 OPS. He has collected 30 HR's, threatening to break the record for most long balls hit by a rookie in a single season, set by Aaron Judge when he went yard 52 times in 2017.
John Means, Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles southpaw posted an unimpressive 3.83 career ERA in the minors, but he hasn't had much trouble retiring MLB hitters, finishing the first half with a 7-4 win-loss record and a 2.50 ERA, not too far from the AL leader, Charlie Morton (2.32 ERA). At the very least, Means is a great storyline to follow this season.
Biggest Surprise Player
Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks super-utility player has always been a highly regarded young player and this season he's breaking out in a big way. Marte has gone from a solid .260/.332/.437 line in 2018 to a superstar-like .311/.359/.559 line in 2019 with 20 HR's, all while playing solid defense up the middle (2B, SS and CF).
Tommy La Stella, Los Angeles Angels: Last off-season, the Chicago Cubs traded the out-of-options La Stella to the Angels for a Player To Be Named Later or Cash Considerations since he didn't fit the Cubs long-term plans and did not have a guaranteed roster spot.
At the time, the infielder had 10 career home runs in 828 at bats. Since joining the Angels, he has gone on a tear, hitting .300/.353/.495 with 16 long balls in 283 at bats, while striking out only 27 times, making him another great storyline to follow this season.
Biggest Disappointing Player
Edwin Diaz, New York Mets: After being, arguably, the best reliever in baseball in 2018, when he led the league in saves (57) to go along with a 1.96 ERA and 15.2 SO/9, Diaz is now in jeopardy of losing his job as the Mets' closer after finishing the first half with a 5.50 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 7 long balls allowed in 34.1 innings of work, after allowing only 5 in all of 2018.
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians: In 2018, Ramirez' only blemish was the fact that he got overshadowed by superstars like Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez and his teammate, Francisco Lindor. Otherwise, he put up a solid .270/.387/.552 triple slash line while joining the 30-30 club with 39 HR's and 34 stolen bases. He also drew 106 walks while striking out only 80 times. This season, however, he is nowhere near the player he was in 2018, hitting only .218/.308/.344, his power has completely disappeared, as he has managed to hit only 7 HR's in 317 at bats.
Biggest Surprise Team
Arizona Diamondbacks: After trading away Paul Goldschmidt and losing Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock via free agency, the D’backs were not considered to be contenders this season. And yet, they have managed to hold second place in the National League West with a 46-45 record, + 53 run differential and only 1.5 games behind in the Wildcard race.
Minnesota Twins: If there are still non-believers out there, you need to re-think your position. The Twins finished the first half with a 53-36 record and the best run differential (+116) in the American League, while leading the AL Central by 5.5 games. Talk about a season full of storylines.
Biggest Disappointing Team
New York Mets: Mets ownership revamped the organization from top to bottom last off-season, starting with the controversial hiring of former sports agent, Brodie Van Wagenen as the General Manager. The new GM immediately brought some big names aboard in the form of Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, to join a team that already had the talented Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler and top prospects Ahmed Rosario and Pete Alonso. So far, they have only managed a 40-50 record while getting underwhelming results from Cano, Diaz, Syndergaard and Wheeler. Not to mention, a bevy of on and off the field distractions.
Los Angeles Angels: The Angels keep failing to put a playoff team out there while they still have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout and the extremely talented two-way player, Shohei Ohtani. So far, they have only managed a 45-46 record this season. With every year that goes by, their window of opportunity gets smaller and smaller.
Let's see what the second half of the season brings, who emerges and who vanishes as well as new storylines.
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