Monday, May 19, 2008

Halfway Heroes

Now that we have reached the mid-point of the season, its time to honor the players that have performed above all others.

AL MVP: Adam Martin, Charlotte Knights, 3B
Thanks to a slow start in the power department, reigning MVP Valerio Guillen of the Boston Red Sox who is still having a superb season, is my current runner-up for this award. Leading the way by a very slim margin is Charlotte Knights third baseman, Adam Martin. Martin currently leads the AL in home runs and RBIs and is one of the major reasons why the Knights are one of the top teams in the league.

NL MVP: Jake Clapp, Philadelphia Phillies, SS
The Jake Clapp legend continues to grow. After starting the season at third base, Clapp moved back to shortstop to make room for Rafael Nieves in the scary Philadelphia lineup. This season looks like another addition to his Hall of Fame resume as he leads the league in home runs and RBIs while still fielding an adequate shortstop. No need to mention a runner-up in this race as no one is even close.

AL Cy Young: Darren Chance, Chicago White Sox, SP
With no truly dominant pitching performer out there, Darren Chance appears to be on his way to a second consecutive AL Cy Young award. If only the guy could get some consistent run support then perhaps his league leading 2.68 ERA would garner a better record than 7-3. With 13 quality starts out of 17 games pitched, he is as close as you get to a sure thing when he takes the mound. There are quite a few pitchers that are very close for this one including fellow run support victim Sam Gruber of the Orioles, Kansas City's Patrick Rivera and Stephen Fischer, as well as annual Cy Young candidate Jeff Bollea of Boston.

NL Cy Young: Pedro Cabrera, St. Louis, RP
Yes, I know the odds of a closer winning a Cy Young are slim to none, but with no stellar performances by any starting pitcher (the best at this point probably being Phillip Lindsay of the New York Mets) I have decided to go with a dominant closer who has probably been the most valuable pitcher to his team. With his record of 28 saves in 29 opportunities, Cabrera is going out there game after game in tight situations preserving Cardinal leads and is the single most important person to their current first place standing. Also having dominant seasons in the closer role are Ken Upshaw of the Phillies and Dan Kennedy of the Diamondbacks.

AL Rookie of the Year: Travis Murphy, Anaheim Angels, 1B/DH
Despite waiting in the minors for the first 20 days or so this season, Travis Murphy has impressed in his major league debut and looks to be the frontrunner for the award in what is a somewhat light rookie class in the AL. Murphy is trailed by a couple of Twins for this honor in catcher Jolbert Saenz and centerfielder Sam Kubinski.

NL Rookie of the Year: Kevin Marte, Montreal Expos, 1B
There is an excess of good candidates in the NL this season. George Bush of San Francisco is having a fabulous season on the mound. The power displays of the Padres' Willie Jose and the Braves' Eric Roosevelt have been impressive. Tony Masao of the Cubs has been outstanding this season hitting for average and power. But the only rookie this season who doubles as an MVP candidate (if Jake Clapp didn't exist) is the Expos' Kevin Marte. His spectacular season which includes an OPS over 1, is one of the top reasons for the Expos current division lead.

AL Closer of the Year: Vic Castillo, Kansas City, RP
Yes, I know the sim awards this based on a formula that allows someone to win simply because they had more save opportunities, which is why I have renamed it for this article. Its a relatively weak year for AL closers this season as all of the top guys have been tagged at some point this season. But currently leading the way as the most unhittable closer this season with 20 saves in 22 chances is Castillo. Right on his heels is Portland's Ignacio Benitez.

NL Closer of the Year: Pedro Cabrera, St. Louis, RP
See NL Cy Young commentary.

Other Noteworthy Performances:
5/17/08 Fred Rolle of the Seattle Mariners turned in the season's only no-hitter thus far with a 3-0 shutout of the Chicago White Sox.

5/18/08 Jose Roque of the Baltimore Orioles went yard four times against the Texas Rangers in a 17-4 blowout.

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