The first quarter of the MLB season is in the books. Baseball is similar to a basketball game in which it’s a season of slumps and successes. Many columnists and sportswriters like to give out mid-season awards during the All-Star break. I would like to hand out awards for the roughly the first 25% of the season and would like to continue this every quarter. In doing this it would help in seeing who should win these awards at the end of the year. Some may agree, some may disagree, others may have other candidates they thought should have been selected. I’ll do awards for the American League and National League and then for MLB as a whole.
1. Josh Hamilton- .389 AVG 18 HR 47 RBI 33 R 17 BB .442 OBP .785 SLG 1.227 OPS
Josh Hamilton is easily the first quarter MVP of the American League. He leads the league in all the triple crown categories right now and it’s not even close. He also leads the league in slugging and OPS. He’s a close second in on-base percentage. He’s also leading his team to the second best record in the league just a game behind the Baltimore Orioles.
2. Justin Verlander- 5W 1L 2.14 ERA 68 SO 0.80 WHIP 67.1 IP 14 BB
Justin Verlander is the reigning AL MVP. He has certainly earned the respect of being considered for it again. He is one of the best pitchers in the game over the past few years and is definitely showing his dominance again this year. He leads the league in earned run average, strikeouts, innings pitched, and WHIP. He is pretty much picking up where he left off last year. He almost threw his third no-hitter earlier this week. He has the kind of stuff that enables him the opportunity to throw a no-hitter.
3. Adam Jones- .308 AVG 14 HR 29 RBI 32 R 9 BB .353 OBP .610 SLG .964 OPS
Adam Jones is the best player on the best team through the first quarter of the season. He deserves to be mentioned in the MVP conversation at least this far into the season. The Orioles were only and afterthought playing in a division that has powerhouses like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays. The Blue Jays have even shown some promise. The Baltimore Orioles finished last in their division last year and have turned it around right now. Adam Jones is a big reason for their success. I think he deserves credit.
1. Justin Verlander- 5W 1L 2.14 ERA 68 SO 0.80 WHIP 67.1 IP 14 BB
As mentioned before, Verlander is simply a beast. Lowest ERA, most punch outs, lowest WHIP, most innings pitched. The more I look at Verlander’s work, the more I am in awe. He is the best pitcher in the league. Need I say more?
2. Jake Peavy- 5W 1L 2.39 ERA 55 SO 0.91 WHIP 64.0 IP 11 BB
Jake Peavy is having a bounce back season so far after battling injuries for the past few seasons. This is the pitcher the White Sox hoped to have acquired in 2010. He is pitching like the Jake Peavy of old on the Sand Diego Padres. He’s third in the league in ERA, second in WHIP, and has one of the lowest walk totals for a starting pitcher. He’s also shown he can go the distance and has thrown 2 complete games, one being a shutout.
3. Yu Darvish- 6W 1L 2.60 ERA 58 SO 1.33 WHIP 52.0 IP 26 BB
Yu Darvish had a lot of expectations coming into the season. He was paid handsomely to come in and be the ace of a staff who had just lost their ace to free agency. He is essentially a rookie in this league and has shown that he can hang with them so far. He does allow plenty of walks, but his ERA shows that he can manage baserunners. He has the fourth best ERA, is tops in the league in wins, and fifth in strikeouts. He is also a candidate to win rookie of the year. Welcome to the league Yu.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Who else could it be? This team was written off before the season started. How could the Orioles compete with the talent that they are surrounded by in their division. Better than the Yankees? The Red Sox? The Rays? The Blue Jays? Yea. Believe it. Buck Showalter has gotten the most out of his roster who doesn’t seem like they could compete within their division. The Baltimore Orioles 27-15 record is best in the league. Yea, those Baltimore Orioles. Buck Showalter has the best record in the league in arguably the best division in baseball.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Yu Darvish is having a great rookie season thus far. He’s shown the ability to pitch and pitch well especially in a great hitters park. He is one of the best pitchers in the league right now and is doing so in his first season in the majors.
1. Matt Kemp- .359 AVG 12 HR 28 RBI 29 R 20 BB .446 OBP .726 SLG 1.173 OPS
Matt Kemp to me is the best player on the planet. He’s a five-tool guy. He is currently on the 15-day DL and still has some of the best numbers in the national league. He has led his team to the best record in the majors at 28-13. The Dodgers don’t have much talent after Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp in the starting lineup, but the two are one of the best combos around the majors. Many believe Matt Kemp deserved MVP last year and I think he’s going to put together a campaign that cannot be denied this season.
2. David Wright- .412 AVG 4 HR 24 RBI 29 R 28 BB .513 OBP .626 SLG 1.138 OPS
David Wright is having a phenomenal year. Ok, maybe I’m biased because I’m a Mets fan, but it’s not like I put him at number 1. He’s batting .412 and is on base slightly over 50% of the time. He’s also doing this with little protection in the lineup. His walks are up and his strikeouts are down. His home run totals are not as high as one would expect, but I’ll take .412 with 4 bombs any day at this point in the season. Nobody expects the Mets to compete this year, nobody expects Wright to continue to hit .400, but this year, thus far has surprised a lot of people.
3. Carlos Beltran- .291 AVG 13 HR 33 RBI 28 R 22 BB .399 OBP .619 SLG 1.018 OPS
No Pujols, no problem. Carlos Beltran has plugged himself into this Cardinals lineup and they continue to head the NL Central division. Carlos Beltran looks like the Beltran of old. Give the guy credit he is having MVP like first quarter. He leads the league in homers and is second in runs batted in. Maybe some pitchers in the league deserve a candidacy, but I think it’s way more impressive if you dominate an AL lineup than a NL lineup. No NL lineup is that scary right now and the lack of DH doesn’t help either.
1. Brandon Beachy- 5W 1L 1.33 ERA 39 SO 0.89 WHIP 54.0 IP 14 BB
Beachy is having a great first quarter. He leads the majors in ERA. He is fourth in the league in WHIP. He is leading his team to the best record in the NL East which is the best division in the NL. He doesn’t have the strikeout power that many would be in awe of, but he doesn’t allow many walks and that ERA is just downright silly.
2. Clayton Kershaw- 4W 1L 1.90ERA 51 SO 0.88 WHIP 61.2 IP 12 BB
Clayton Kershaw is last season’s Cy Young award winner and my pick to win it at the end of this season. Dodgers have the best hitter and best pitcher in the league. Kershaw is the ace of the best team in baseball and his number prove it. He owns the third lowest ERA in the majors and the third best WHIP. He’s top 10 in punch outs and second in innings pitched. Kershaw could be the Cy Young at the end of the season.
3. Stephen Strasburg- 4W 1L 2.21 ERA 64 SO 1.02 WHIP 53.0 IP 13 BB
Strasburg is one of the best young pitchers in the game and definitely fun to watch. He is a power pitcher with control. He leads the league in strikeouts and is top 10 in ERA. He might be the horse that many staffs would like to have because of prior injuries, but his stuff is electric. He is the ace of a staff that might be the best in the NL. Strasburg when healthy is a phenom that is a treat to watch.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
I’m probably being biased here, but they own the fifth best record in the league. Most thought that they would own the fifth best record in the NL East. Collins does more with a roster that is filled with question marks than any other manager not named Buck Showalter. He utilizes his 25-man roster and has had some injuries that haven’t really slowed the team down. His only pitfall is bullpen management, but he doesn’t have much to work with there either.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Wade Miley- 5W 1L 2.14 ERA 30 SO 1.19 WHIP 46.1 IP 14 BB
Miley has really shown that he can pitch. He is arguably the best rookie pitcher in the league right now. Through the first quarter of the year he has been strong, even though most rookie pitchers tend to slow down in the second half. Right now Miley is a big contributor to his team with 5 wins and a low 2 ERA. I know pitchers don’t play as much as batters, but he is an asset to his team. Two pitchers could take home ROTY honors this season.