2012 MLB American League Midseason Awards Picks and Predictions: With the All-Star break less than a week away, it is time to hand some hardware for the first half of the 2012 MLB season. Of course, a lot can change in the second half of the year. Injuries can derail players, and someone always seems to make a bug push in September that propels them to one of the major awards. Still, a few players have certainly helped their causes by getting off to strong starts. Here is a look at the frontrunners for the top regular-season awards, as well as a special dubious honor I added in.
2012 MLB American League Midseason Awards Picks and Predictions
American League Most Valuable Player: Mike Trout, Outfielder, Los Angeles Angels
Forget that he is just a rookie and that he wasn’t called up until a month into the season. Trout has been nothing short of phenomenal since joining the Angels, and it is no coincidence that Los Angeles is 37-23 since he arrived in the majors. He has been the combination of power and speed that Willie Mays Hayes thought he had in Major League II. Trout leads the AL in both batting average and stolen bases, and he ranks fourth in on base percentage. He also ranks in the top 10 in runs scored and slugging percentage. Trout has 10 home runs and 36 RBIs from the leadoff spot, and by the way, he has amassed these numbers in roughly 20 fewer games than the guys he is competing against. Throw in the fact that he makes highlight plays in centerfield on a routine basis, and this pick is easy for me.
American League Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Starter, Detroit Tigers
A strong argument can be made for Chicago’s Chris Sale and Los Angeles’ Jered Weaver, but Verlander is still the man to beat. Despite an infield that looks like it makes nightly visits to the Golden Corral, Verlander ranks fourth in the American League in ERA, second in WHP and third in batting average against. More importantly, there is no better workhorse in the majors today. He leads the majors in innings pitch by almost two full games, and he also leads the majors in complete games and strikeouts. Verlander still ranks in the top four in all major statistical categories and has thrown 30 more innings than Sale and 44 more innings than Weaver. There is no question he is the frontrunner for another Cy Young.
American League Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout, Outfielder, Los Angeles Angels
Unlike Tyson Chandler, who managed to be named NBA Defensive Player of the Year but somehow only made the NBA All-Defensive second team, Trout is both the best player and the best rookie in the American League. If guys like Josh Hamilton, Robinson Cano and Jose Bautista can’t hold him off despite a 20-game head start, Yu Darvish and Will Middlebrooks don’t have a prayer. I’ll listen to arguments in regards to Trout’s MVP candidacy, but his status as the Rookie of the Year favorite is not debatable.
Comeback Player of the Year: Adam Dunn, Designated Hitter, Chicago White Sox
He is batting just .213 and is on pace to absolutely obliterate the single-season record for strikeouts, but Dunn is also back to smashing home runs this season. After hitting at least 38 homers in all seven of his full-time seasons in the majors, Dunn experienced a massive power outage last year, batting a ridiculous .159 and managing just 11 home runs. He has recaptured his power stroke this season, and he is currently third in the majors with 25 homers. He is also fourth in the American League with 60 RBIs and leads the league with 66 walks. The strikeouts and poor batting average are acceptable as long as he keeps knocking balls over the fence.
Biggest Bust: Carlos Santana, Catcher, Cleveland Indians
Santana was supposed to be in the conversation for the best offensive catcher in the majors this season. Well, that hasn’t exactly been the case. He is hitting a dismal .218 this year and has managed just five home runs and 29 RBIs. Heck, Josh Hamilton almost hit that many homers in one night, and Jose Bautista had more RBIs than that in June alone. To make matters worse, Santana has not hit a homer since May 15, and he hasn’t had a multi-RBI game since May 11.
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