Every MLB team has played more than 81 games, and the first half of the season is set to officially come to an end with the 2015 All-Star Game on Tuesday. Many of the division races look like they could be unexciting as the league heads into the latter part of the year, but the battle for individual awards could prove to be fun to watch.
Young talent has dominated baseball in 2015, and there’s a chance all of the major awards will be won by players who are still in their 20s. While a few players are living up to their newly signed, lucrative contracts, others are making the case that they deserve to be paid like the top stars in the sport.
Below are midseason awards for the 2015 MLB season.
AL MVP: Mike Trout
For the fourth consecutive year, the Los Angeles Angels outfielder is the best player in the AL. His .305 batting average, .400 on-base percentage and 24 home runs all rank in the top eight in the league, and his .604 slugging percentage leads all AL players. He continues to play above-average defense, and while he’s not stealing as many bases as he once did, his speed and base-running skills have him ranked second with 64 runs scored.
Trout does have some legitimate competition for the award, namely in Josh Donaldson, whose 4.9 WAR is second only to Trout’s 5.4 WAR. But the Toronto Blue Jays third baseman’s OPS is nearly .100 points less than that of Trout. Jason Kipnis and his .335 average, as well as Miguel Cabrera and his AL-leading 1.034 OPS could also be considered for the award.
NL MVP: Bryce Harper
After entering the league with so much hype, the Washington Nationals outfielder is finally performing like the best player in baseball. Harper leads the majors in OBP (.471), SLG (.709) and WAR (6.1). Washington began the season as the World Series favorites, and after a slow start, Harper propelled them to first place in the NL East with his stellar play. Hitting .343 through 78 games, Harper is on pace for close to 50 home runs, 120 RBI and 40 doubles.
If Harper wasn't playing so well, Paul Goldschmidt would stand out as the clear No.1 MVP candidate. He’s the current leader in the race for the NL Batting Title with a .349 average, and his 68 RBI are tied for the league lead. The Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman also has 16 stolen bases and a .466 OBP. But Harper has him beat handily in the power department, considering Goldschmidt is slugging .618.
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
The Chicago White Sox starter is only tied for 19th with seven wins, and seven pitchers have been better than his 2.80 ERA. But he’s been as good as any AL pitcher in 2015. His 2.33 FIP ranks second only to Max Scherzer, and he’s been incredibly consistent. He’s had a quality start in 10 of his last 11 outings, going at least eight innings and allowing no more than two runs five times during that span. He also set a record during that stretch, striking out at least 10 batters in eight consecutive games.
Sale will certainly have tough competition for the award when the year comes to an end. Houston’s Dallas Keuchel leads the AL with 11 wins and a 2.14 ERA. Defending AL Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber has a 3.45 ERA and a 4-9 record, but he leads the AL with 148 strikeouts and his FIP is third in the Majors. Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer ranks in the top seven in strikeouts, WHIP and ERA.
NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer
Last offseason’s top free agent has been everything the Nationals could have hoped he’d be. With Stephen Strasburg struggling and Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister producing ERA’s above 4.00, no pitcher has been better than Scherzer. His 9-7 record and 2.12 ERA don’t come close to telling the whole story, considering he has a 0.80 WHIP, 10.44 strikeout’s per nine innings and an MLB-leading 2.06 FIP. He might have put together the best pair of back-to-back starts in MLB history, throwing a one-hit shutout, followed by a no-hitter.
If the voting for NL Cy Young was held at the All-Star Break, Zack Greinke would be sure to get his share of votes. His 1.48 ERA is far and away the best in baseball, and he’s been very impressive with a 0.89 WHIP and just 20 walks in 115.1 innings. But Greinke has been much more fortunate with balls put in play, giving Scherzer the edge.
AL Rookie of the Year: Carson Smith
Relievers don’t often get a lot of recognition when it comes to awards, but Smith has been terrific for the Seattle Mariners. He only has five saves, but the 25-year-old has made his presence felt with a 1.80 ERA in 35 innings. He has 45 strikeouts and just six walks allowed, giving him a WHIP of 0.77.
Lance McCullers has only made 10 starts for the Houston Astros, but his 2.16 ERA and 1.10 WHIP have him in contention for the award. If he continues this pace for the rest of the year it will be difficult for voters not to put him atop the ballot at season’s end
NL Rookie of the Year: Kris Bryant
The Chicago Cubs third baseman has been everything that he was advertised to be before he was called up from Triple-A. He’s been the team’s best hitter other than Anthony Rizzo, posting a .381 OBP and slugging at a .478 clip. Bryant leads the team with 50 RBI.
Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Joc Pederson could easily win the award. His 20 home runs are tops among rookies, and his .860 SLG is a hair ahead of Bryant's.