Boy, has this season gone by fast. It feels like just yesterday the Boston Red Sox were hoisting the 2013 World Series trophy, and everyone else was waiting for the season to start again. It feels like just yesterday that Opening Day was here and that the teams were back on the field to start a new season with a clean slate. But this first half of the season has gone by fast. Really fast. Now we are at the All-Star break, and it is time to give out some "first-half awards," talk about some surprise teams, and just recap what went on during this fantastic first half of the 2014 season.
National League Awards:
MVP: Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers
Jonathan Lucroy has been the best player in the National League this season. He's more valuable to the Brewers than Troy Tulowitzki is to the Rockies. It is not only his offense that is near the top of the National League, but his handling of the Brewers pitching staff is arguably just as good as Yadier Molina's handling of the Cardinals pitching staff. While Lucroy's 3.7 WAR is tied for fifth in the National League and his OPS ranks 9th. So far on the season, Lucroy is batting .315/.385/.494 with nine homers and 44 runs batted in. Those are MVP worthy numbers on any level.
Honorable Mentions: Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gomez, and Giancarlo Stanton
Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Only two rookies, Hamilton and Chris Owings, have WARs above one. While Owings has had a good season, Hamilton has been more impressive. He's hitting a slash line of .285/.319/.423 with 38 stolen bases, which ranks second in the National League to only Dee Gordon, who has an astounding 43 stolen bases. Hamilton's 4.7 percent walk rate is not great, but he is getting on-base on a fine rate. One other plus to Hamilton's game is his defense; he boasts a 9 defensive runs saved this season and a 23 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) prorated to 150 games. Hamilton's case is better than anyone else's.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Owings and Tommy La Stella
Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
A no-hitter, a 40+ innings scoreless streak, and a sub-2 ERA. That's enough to be not only a Cy Young award winner, but also MVP. On the season, Clayton Kershaw is 11-2 with a 1.78 ERA and a 1.60 FIP in 96.1 innings pitched. Kershaw leads all National League pitchers with a 3.7 WAR, 1.72 xFIP, and ranks third in the National League in left-on-base percentage with an 83.6 mark. Kershaw also has a 126 to 13 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In terms of FIP, Kershaw is having the greatest seasons of his career. The Dodgers are fantastic in his starts, as they are 11-3 when Kershaw is on the hill.
Honorable Mentions: Adam Wainwright and Stephen Strasburg
Manager of the Year: Ron Roenicke, MGR, Milwaukee Brewers
Ron Roenicke has dealt with the issues surrounding Jean Segura quite well. Not to mention, he took the Brewers, a team that was supposed to be around the bottom of the National League Central, into contention, with one of the hottest starts of the season. While they have cooled off greatly, they still are playing very good baseball, which has to come back to the managerial experience of Roenicke. Not to mention, Roenicke has challenged 14 calls this season, and nine were overturned, for an astounding 64.2% success rate. His work for the Brewers has taken them far and could take them further.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Williams and Bryan Price