As we go into the All-Star break, let's take a look at the first half's outstanding performances...who would be our first half MVP's, Cy Young's and Rookies of the Year?
We'll start with an easy one. Kansas City's Lorenzo Manto is having perhaps the best season ever by a middle infielder in the history of Kinsella. He leads the league in average, OBP, and OPS; and he's second in slugging, stolen bases, doubles and runs. Runnerup: Texas' Juan Marrero, who playing a sterling (maybe gold) CF in addition to slamming 30 homers. Honorable mention: Toronto's Carlos Cruz (.655 Slugging, 32 HR's), Seattle's James Hunter (.401 OBP, 25 HR's), and Cleveland's Douglas Martin (.300 BA, 33 HR's). Overrated: KC's Hersh Taylor is having another fine year, but his teammate Manto is at least as repsonsible for his 105 RBI as he is.
AL Cy Young
3-way race among Charlotte's Warren Justice and Tampa Bay's Branch Vitiello and Santos Lorenzo. Forget wins and look at the qualitatives. Lorenzo has been the stingiest with baserunners but has been slightly homer-prone. Vitiello has the lowest slugging against. OPS against: Lorenzo - .581; Justice - .594; Vitiello - .601. It's Lorenzo by a whisker.
It's an all-pitching race for AL Rookie, with Kansas City's Sun Wanatabe and Armando Taveras, and Tampa Bay's Fred Lewis the candidates. These three have put up remarkably similar numbers across the board...Lewis is slightly less walk-prone and slightly more homer-prone than the KC pair. Tough choice but the pick is Lewis - slightly lower BA, OBP and Slugging-against.
This has been a 2-man race between Atlanta's Dee Dee Hutton and San Fran's Sam Kubinski. They're 1-2 in OPS (by a fairly wide margin over Cincy's Douglas Carpenter). Hutton has the better hitting numbers, while Kubinski plays a much more critical position defensively (although detractors could say he doesn't play it all that well). The nod: Kubinski, due to the greater defensive contribution. Honorable mention: Carpenter (1.006 OPS and 33 HR's) and Atlanta's Chad Seabol (.966 OPS, .981 Fielding % at 2B).
NL Cy Young
The Mets' Walt Hernandez in a runaway. He's put up a ridiculous .516 OPS-against (closest competitor: Andres Cedeno at .568). Teammate Cedeno is a distant second. Honorable mention: St. Louis' Luis Duran and Miguel Padilla, San Fran's Cristobol Redondo.
Almost the exact opposite of the AL, the NL race this year features hitters. The leading contenders are a pair of Milwaukee prospects, CF Bruce Lewis and 3B/RF Bobby Simmons. I like Simmons' better OBP (.370 vs. .345 for Lewis), but Lewis has provided more power (.583 slugging vs. Simmons' .524) and better defense. Lewis is the pick, with Simmons the runnerup. Honorable mention: Mets' C Fred Canseco (.430 OBP), Arizona 1B David Cubillan (.862 OPS) and Frisco setup man Joe Canseco (2.15 ERA in 46 innings).