Normally I don’t like doling out awards for half-a-season, but everyone else does it so someone has to do it right when they’re more than likely doing it wrong.
Here’s the American League along with the people I selected in my book before the season started.
1. Mike Trout, OF—Los Angeles Angels
The Angels recalled him in what appeared to be a desperation maneuver similar to the way the Yankees recalled Robinson Cano in 2005. The difference being no one knew who or what Cano was. That’s including the Yankees since they’d offered him to the Rangers in the Alex Rodriguez trade a year earlier and the Rangers said no.
Trout was a star-in-waiting and has delivered. It’s no coincidence that the Angels’ ship righted when Trout joined the team and provided what the front office wants with pop and what manager Mike Scioscia wants with speed and defense.
2. Josh Hamilton, OF—Texas Rangers
In May it looked as if Hamilton was going to make a viable (and ironically a presumably clean) run at the “legit” home run record of 61.
No, I don’t advocate an asterisk or blotting out of the Barry Bonds record, but it can be discussed as if the modern records were achieved dubiously. Hamilton’s faded in June and July.
3. David Ortiz, DH—Boston Red Sox
Without him the Red Sox would probably be 4-5 games under .500 and pretty much buried.
4. Robinson Cano, 2B—New York Yankees
Quite simply there is nowhere to pitch to him to consistently get him out. With A-Rod, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira degenerating into one-dimensional, occasional threats, without Cano and Curtis Granderson the Yankees would be a pedestrian offensive club, if that.
5. Mark Trumbo, OF/1B/3B/DH—Los Angeles Angels
The day is going to come when he hits a ball and it never comes down.
Before the season I picked Jose Bautista. He’s having a big power year with 27 homers but his other numbers are down and the Blue Jays are a .500 team.
Cy Young Award
1. Justin Verlander, RHP—Detroit Tigers
He’s leading the Majors in strikeouts, innings pitched and has 5 complete games. For the second straight season the Tigers would be non-contenders without him and in 2012, they haven’t been all that good with him.
2. Chris Sale, LHP—Chicago White Sox
There are seamless transitions to the starting rotation from the bullpen and there’s blossoming into an ace. Sale has done the latter.
3. Jered Weaver, RHP—Los Angeles Angels
He’s 10-1 with a 1.96 ERA.
4. David Price, LHP—Tampa Bay Rays
He’s leading the league in wins and has the ability to dominate every time he goes out to the mound.
5. Jake Peavy, RHP—Chicago White Sox
Peavy is almost—not quite, but almost—back to the dominant pitcher he was in his best years with the Padres. His fastball isn’t as fast and his stressful motion is a constant concern for another injury, but he and Sale have saved the White Sox.
My preseason pick was Price.
Rookie of the Year
1. Mike Trout, OF–Los Angeles Angels
2. Jarrod Parker, RHP—Oakland Athletics
He has a great hits/innings pitched ratio of 65/85, has 67 strikeouts and only allowed 4 homers.
3. Will Middlebrooks, 3B—Boston Red Sox
Middlebrooks’s emergence expedited the departure (and essentially giving away) of Kevin Youkilis.
4. Jesus Montero, DH/C—Seattle Mariners
He’s struggling in his rookie year, but has 20 extra base hits while learning to catch a good pitching staff.
5. Addison Reed, RHP—Chicago White Sox
His ERA was blown up by one awful game in which he allowed 6 earned runs, but he’s stabilized the White Sox closer’s role and without him they wouldn’t be in first place.
My preseason pick was Montero.
Manager of the Year
1. Robin Ventura—Chicago White Sox
The absence of managing experience at any level made me a skeptic, but his laid back attitude is diametrically opposed to the former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen which has relaxed the clubhouse from its hair-trigger and has notably helped Adam Dunn and Alex Rios.
2. Buck Showalter—Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles are playing Buckball.
3. Bob Melvin—Oakland Athletics
Having that team with their ballpark issues and influx of youngsters has proven Melvin to be what he always was: a good manager.
4. Joe Girardi—New York Yankees
Girardi’s never gotten the credit he’s deserved. They’ve survived the aforementioned decline of A-Rod and the season-ending injury to Mariano Rivera.
5. Ron Washington—Texas Rangers
No he’s not a strong strategic manager, but the players play hard for him and they win.
My preseason pick was Manny Acta of the Indians.