It seems hard to believe but the first half of the 2017 MLB season has come and gone. The AL emerged victorious in a surprisingly tight All-Star Game, winning on Robinson Cano’s home run to lead off the tenth.
The first half of the season was a great one, with surprise teams making statements and numerous players reestablishing their places. If the end of the season hardware was awarded today, here’s whom I think would come out on top.
Rookie of the Year: Cody Bellinger- LF- Los Angeles Dodgers
The 22 year old is one of two rookies who have absolutely electrified the league so far this season. Called up in late April after an injury to the practically forgotten Joc Pederson, Bellinger’s impressive power stroke immediately sparked the Dodgers and helped the team overcome something of a slow start. Los Angeles has the best record in baseball at the All-Star break, thanks in large part to their rookie sensation’s 25 HR and 58 RBI. (Other possibilities: Kyle Freeland.)
Manager of the Year: Bud Black- Colorado Rockies
Though they have slowed a bit in recent weeks, no one can deny that the emergence of the usually-dormant Rockies has been the story of the year so far. Led by the prowess of Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado and DJ LaMahieu, the Rockies look like a very good team for the first time in years. Their first year skipper is the reason why. The calm and intelligent style that Buddy Black has brought to Denver has turned the team around in a big way and brought out the best in nearly everyone wearing the black and purple pinstripes. Arizona and LA have passed the Rox in the NL West recently, but the team led for a majority of the first half and look very dangerous headed down the stretch. if they can regain that form, Black will have his second carrer MOY title coming his way. (Other possibilities: Torey Lovullo, Dave Roberts.)
Comeback Player of the Year: Ryan Zimmerman- 1B- Washington Nationals
This one is the absolute toughest to name by far because so many Senior Circuit players have reemerged this season. But the most captivating performance has come from the Nats’ first baseman. Ryan Zimmerman was once a promising young slugger for Washington, winning Silver Sluggers in 2009 and 2010. But the infielder’s potential began to fade at the same time that stars like Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez arrived. This year, Zimmerman has returned with one heck of a bang, batting .330 (fourth-MLB) with 63 RBI (seventh-MLB) in the first half, earning an All-Star start. He’s provided even further protection for Harper and Daniel Murphy and is a big reason why Washington is dominating the NL East. (Other possibilities: Zack Greinke, Andrew McCutchen, Greg Holland.)
Cy Young Award: Max Scherzer- RHP- Washington Nationals
Scherzer is the reigning winner in the NL, and he’s turned the volume up to 11 this season. His fastball is nearly untouchable when it’s working, and it always is. His 2.10 ERA and .78 WHIP lead the MLB, while his 173 Ks are second. Already a dominant pitcher in the AL, the two-time Cy Young winner has become a phenom in the NL and his fiery competitiveness makes him even more intimidating. He has more than established himself as the ace of the Nationals and looks to be cruising towards a Cy Young repeat. (Other possibilities: Carlos Martinez, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke.)
MVP: Paul Goldschmidt- 1B- Arizona Diamondbacks
Goldy has always been a force to be reckoned with for the D-Backs, no matter how good or bad they’ve been. Criminally underrated despite two MVP runner-ups, Goldschmidt is the heart and soul of the Diamondbacks and 2017 could be his best season yet. He’s not leading the NL in anything, but his line is formidable and you must also consider that Arizona is practically on his back. Batting .314 with 19 homers, 67 RBI and a .577 Slugging %, this looks like the year Goldschmidt will finally earn what he deserves, and it’s no coincidence that Arizona is doing damage as a result. (Other possibilities: Nolan Arenado, Daniel Murphy, Joey Votto.)
Manager of the Year: AJ Hinch- Houston Astros
It’s finally all come together for Houston. After a promising 2015 season, the Astros derailed last season and many of their hot young stars went cold. For manager AJ Hinch, all of the pieces are not only at last in place, but also performing exceptionally. Houston had six All-Stars at this year’s game and not one of them was undeserving. Hinch has a potent young lineup to work with and he’s gotten 100% out of it this season. He’s an easy choice. (Other possibilities: Paul Molitor, Joe Girardi, Kevin Cash.)
Comeback Player of the Year: Ervin Santana- RHP- Minnesota Twins
Santana came from the Braves to the Twins in 2015 with the expectation of helping the team get to the next level. Then he was suspended for PEDs. Up until this season he has not lived up to that hype, but 2017 has been a renaissance for the righty. Establishing himself as the Twins’ ace, the 34-year-old owns a 2.99 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, earning him his second career All-Star selection. Minnesota has been a surprise this season and are in the thick of things in the AL Central, and if Santana keeps it up they could provide some upset. (Other possibilities: Carlos Correa, Michael Brantley.)
Cy Young Award: Chris Sale- LHP- Boston Red Sox
Changing the color of his sox (shameless pun, I know) in the offseason turned Chris Sale from “the other guy” to “the guy”. He has paid Boston back eleven-fold for the investment they made in him, going 11-4 with a 2.75 ERA (second-AL) and an AL leading .90 WHIP and 178 Ks. His first-half brilliance earned him a second consecutive All-Star start, an honor not seen for 15 years. The Red Sox did get off to a slow start, but Sale has steadied the ship all season and looks like a cinch for his first Cy Young Award. With him leading a formidable but still underachieving rotation, Boston is scary. (Other possibilities: Jason Vargas, Ervin Santana, Dallas Keuchel.)
Rookie of the Year & MVP: Aaron Judge- RF- New York Yankees
Are you surprised for either? What we’ve seen from Aaron Judge so far in 2017 has been spectacular for any player, not just for a rookie. The 6’7, 282 lb. right fielder has electrified the MLB with his power, defense and humble attitude. His hitting has wowed everyone, breaking the Yankee record for home runs by a rookie….before the All-Star break. His 30 homers, .329 AVG and 66 RBI are all in the top five in the AL. The 25-year-old could cool off in the second half, but that doesn’t seem likely. At this rate, he joins Freddy Lynn and Ichiro as the only players to be ROY & MVP in the same year. All rise for the Judge. (Other possibilities: Andrew Benintendi.)
Yankees’ Preparing Record-Setting Contract Offer for Gerrit Cole
The New York Yankees are looking to make free agent front-line starter Gerrit Cole an offer he simply cannot refuse.
According to the New York Times’ Bob Klapisch, the Yankees are working on a making a record-setting seven-year, $245 million contract offer to Cole, which would set anew mark for pitchers in terms of overall value as well as average annual value.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman and Mark Feinsand, while the Yankees have not officially made the offer to Cole, they are not far from doing so. Cole and his agent Scott Boras have requested interested teams to submit their initial offers.
Cole is expected to draw interest from the Los Angeles Dodges and and the Los Angeles Angels, who could throw their hat in the ring of what could be a fevered bidding war to land Cole, who is widely considered to be the cream of the free agent crop this year.
The Yankees have made it their priority to sign Cole this offseason, and appear to be taking a clear, and aggressive approach, to get that deal done as soon as possible.
Rays’ Blake Snell Rips Tommy Pham Trade During Twitch Stream
Tampa Bay Rays’ ace pitcher Blake Snell wasn’t a big fan of the Rays recent trading of Tommy Pham to the San Diego Padres for veteran outfielder Hunter Renfroe and infield prospect Xavier Edwards, and aired his thoughts during a recent stream on Twitch.
Snell, who is one of many MLB players trying to battle it out as one of the best Twitch channels, was streaming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on one of his Twitch streams when the news initially broke regarding the trade, and offered his raw, unfiltered reaction.
Blake Snell lol pic.twitter.com/sjwTZNU5f6
— Red Sox Stats (@redsoxstats) December 6, 2019
Snell gripes that “We gave Pham up for Renfroe and a damn slapd–k prospect?”. While Snell went on to talk more on the trade, and even later apologized on the stream and told the the Tampa Bay Times he was just frustrated over losing Pham.
Pham was a big part of the Rays postseason run last season.
“I apologized on [Twitch] just saying I’m sorry I’m just upset we’re losing a guy like Tommy who helped our team in so many ways!” Snell said in a text to the Tampa Bay Times. “Didn’t mean any disrespect to Edwards who I didn’t know who he was until after I said that. I was just sad to lose Tommy. … Pretty much we could’ve got [Nationals rookie Juan] Soto, I was just sad to lose Tommy. It’s tough losing someone you respect so much and enjoy being around.”
“He actually reached out to me earlier today and explained that he was a good friend of Pham’s and he kind of just reacted in that moment and said what he said, but that he didn’t mean any disrespect or any hard feelings,” Edwards said. “I’ve got to take him at his word, and just looking forward to getting after it.”
Cubs Non-Tender Addison Russell
While the Chicago Cubs tendered contracts to six arbitration-eligible players for the 2020 season, there was one notable name they decided to non-tender: Addison Russell.
According to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Russell, 25, will now hit free agency following five years with the Cubs, the last two proving to be rough for the infielder.
The Cubs tendered Russell for 2019 after he was suspended for 40 games near the end of the 2018 season for violating the league’s domestic abuse policies, forcing him to miss the first 28 games of the 2019 season.
Russell, a National League All-Star in 2016, was later demoted to the minors, after he struggled on the field.
“We decided to non-tender Addison Russell today simply because the role we expected him to play for the 2020 Cubs was inconsistent with how he would have been treated in the salary arbitration process,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said in a statement. “In the year since we decided to tender Addison a contract last November, he has lived up to his promise to put in the important self-improvement work necessary off the field and has shown growth, as a person, as a partner, as a parent and as a citizen. We hope and believe that Addison’s work will continue, and we have offered our continued support of him and his family, including [ex-wife] Melisa [Reidy].
“In the last year, the organization has also put in the important work necessary to bolster our domestic violence prevention training for all employees, all major league players, all minor league players and all staff. We also offered healthy relationship workshops for the players’ partners and provided intensive, expert domestic violence prevention training for player-facing staff. This heightened training and our increased community involvement on the urgent issue of domestic violence prevention will continue indefinitely. We wish Addison and his family well.”
Russel was a key factor in the Cubs winning the World Series after a 108 year drought back in 2016, with a Grand Slam in Game 6 which catapulted the Cubs back from a 3-2 deficit in the series.
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