There was no baseball yesterday. There is no baseball today. There will be baseball tomorrow, but not until 7:05 PM, so it’s basically three days without anyone throwing a pitch in anger. Let’s kill the time, then, by arguing about who, if the season ended today, would be your award winners. First up: the MVP Award.
Until May 28 this was Mike Trout‘s award to lose, as he was hitting a monster .337/.461/.742 and, once again, playing superior defense in center field. Heck, if there was justice in the world it’d be his fourth or fifth MVP award. Some people argue six. I mean, he’s the best player in baseball, full stop, so they’re not silly arguments. Injuries happen, however, and if Trout’s wrist injury is going to prevent him from winning the actual MVP Award come November — and I suspect it is, barring a historic second half run that propels the Angels into serious contention — he’s certainly out of the running for the first half award.
It’s hard to argue in favor of anyone other than Aaron Judge here. He leads all of baseball with 30 homers, leads all of baseball in on-base and slugging percentage, is fifth in batting average and seventh in RBI. In just the American League he’s near the top in all three triple crown categories, trailing Nelson Cruz by a handful of RBI and Jose Altuve by 18 points of batting average. I doubt he seriously challenges for the Triple Crown — Altuve is the best hitter-for-average on the planet these days — but it’s a monster season all the same. If you want to throw in the intangible stuff, the Yankees have been relevant all season, defying expectations of a down year, at least until the past couple of weeks. That’s largely on Judge’s shoulders and he’ll get — and deserve — credit for that.
With a nod of respect to Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Mookie Betts and perhaps Chris Sale, there’s not a serious answer other than The Judge.
A much more interesting race here as there are an easy half dozen dudes who could win it without anyone having a right to get too upset. Joey Votto (.315/.427/.631), Paul Goldschmidt (.312/.428/.577), Bryce Harper (.325/.431/.590) and Justin Turner (.377/.473/.583) are all strong candidates. Votto leads Harper and Goldschmidt in OPS, but not by a ton. Turner is having a phenomenal year, though he is jusssst short of having enough plate appearances to qualify among the league leaders). If you want to throw in the soft factors, Turner is playing for the best team in the NL, Harper’s Nats are running away with the East and the the Diamondbacks have been surprisingly competitive.
But they’re not the only ones worth discussing! Corey Seager and Daniel Murphy, each top-three MVP finishers last year, are having strong seasons. Harper’s other teammates, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon, are turning fantastic campaigns. Nolan Arenado has been flashing gold glove defense to go along with his .905 OPS. Both Max Scherzer — yet another Nat? Jeez! — and Clayton Kershaw are having wonderful years that, in the ordinary course, would thrust a pitcher into the MVP conversation.
There aren’t many wrong answers here. If Turner keeps up his phenomenal pace and breaks into the qualifiers he’s probably the best pick for the full-season MVP. That’s a big if, so let’s just revisit him in November. At the half season mark I’m gonna go with Harper, but my lord, it’s a tossup. You can’t go wrong with any of these guys.