MLB Midseason Award Winners: MVP

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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.  

AL MVP

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.

 

NL MVP

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.

Brewers reliever Josh Hader in hot water over racist, homophobic tweets from 2011-12

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Brewers reliever Josh Hader didn’t have a good night. He gave up four hits and a three-run homer to put the National League in a big hole in the All-Star Game. That’s the kind of thing that has to stick with you.

Oh, and he was also revealed to be a SUPER BIG racist, misogynist and homophobe. That’s gonna stick with him too, and may land him in trouble with Major League Baseball.

Someone decided to dig through Hader’s Twitter history this evening and when they did they found some ugly, ugly stuff in there from back in 2011-12.* Hader was found to have used the n-word, liberally. He said “I hate gay people.” He said some super misogynistic stuff about wanting a woman who will cook and clean for him, among other pretty damn vile things. There were multiple references to cocaine. He said “I’ll murder your family” to one person and made some total non-sequitur tweet simply saying “KKK.” You name a social media etiquette line that one can cross and Hader not only crossed it, but he totally and gleefully trampled over. If you want to see that vile stuff you can see it over at The Big Lead, which screen-capped it. I presume Hader has deleted them by now.

The news of Hader’s old, unearthed tweets bubbled out as the All-Star Game was going on, and reporters met Hader in the locker room right afterward for comment. Hader owned up to them — there was no “I was hacked” excuses offered here — saying that the tweets were a sign of immaturity when he was 17 years-old. He said he plans to apologize to his teammates, saying they don’t reflect on him as a person now. His quote: “No excuses. I was dumb and stupid.” Which, well, yes, obviously.

That may not be the end of it, however:

These tweets are old, Hader may be a different person now and people can do a lot of growing up between 17 and 24. But Major League Baseball is not happy tonight, I can assure you, that an ugly social media incident blew up during its biggest showcase of the regular season.

Will Hader be disciplined? Hard to say, given that Hader wasn’t even drafted yet when those tweets were made and given that MLB’s social media policy was not even in place then. But it would not shock me at all if more comes of this than Hader merely apologizing to his teammates. Stay tuned.

*There are several putative Hader tweets floating around Twitter right now of a more recent vintage. Hader has locked his account, however, and they cannot be confirmed, and many people who were able to access his account before it was locked said those tweets were not there before, with the suggestion that they were Photoshopped. We are neither in the position to — nor do we have the inclination to — verify which of Hader’s tweets are legitimate and which are fabricated. We know, however, that there is more than ample, awful stuff that he has owned up to and we’ll leave it at that for now.