All-Star week is in the books. The hometown kid, Todd Frazier, won a surprisingly compelling Home Run Derby on Monday. And the American League continued its dominance (15 of the last 19) with a 6-3 win on Tuesday night, securing the White Sox (haha) home field advantage in the World Series.
Before we dive into the second half of the season, let's take a look back at the first. Here are our first half awards. As always, let us know what we got right and wrong.
American League (Paul)
MVP: Josh Donaldson
The Toronto Blue Jays third baseman received the most All-Star fan votes of all time (14,090,188). In this case, the fans got it right. Donaldson leads all AL third basemen in SLG, home runs, runs, and RBI. His WAR is 4.3, tops among third basemen, and third overall in the AL. He also made the catch of the year:
Cy Young: Chris Sale
Sale's WAR is 4.1, which is first among AL pitchers and second behind Max Scherzer among all pitchers. In 119 innings, Sale has struck out 157 batters. That results in a MLB-leading 11.84 K/9. He tied Pedro Martinez for the all-time steak of consecutive starts with at least 10 strikeouts at 8.
Rookie of the Year: Devon Travis
Unlike the NL, the 2015 AL class of rookies is a bit underwhelming. Travis, the Blue Jays second baseman, leads all AL rookies in WAR at 2.0. In just 208 plate appearances, Travis has 7 home runs and 15 doubles (.492 SLG). Along with Donaldson, Travis has helped the Blue Jays offense score 486 runs, tops in baseball by more than 70.
Most Surprising Team: Houston Astros
In 2014, the Astros had 79 wins. For the whole season. At the break this year, they have 49. Before a recent losing streak, they found themselves leading the AL West (today, they would be the second Wild Card). They lead baseball in home runs with 124 and have a good starting rotation, led by AL All-Star game starter Dallas Keuchel.
Most Disappointing Team: Seattle Mariners
The Mariners were a hot pick to win it all in 2014 (including from yours truly). To say they have underperformed would be accurate. The Mariners enter play on Friday with 41 wins, 7 games back of the second Wild Card. Most of their problems have come at home, with a 20-27 record at Safeco Field. The Mariners lineup has scored 312 runs, 14th in the AL and 27th in baseball. Robinson Cano made $12 million in the first half and compiled a WAR of 0. I'd say that's disappointing.
National League (Peter)
MVP: Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper has officially arrived. His 5.7 WAR leads the universe, including the rightful AL first half MVP, Mike Trout. At just 22 years old, Harper has a .339/.464/.704 slash line. That means he's first in baseball in OBP and SLG and third in AVG. The NL average is .253/.313/.390. He's also played great defense in right field based on all metrics. And because Paul included a video, I'll do the same:
Cy Young: Max Scherzer
Harper's teammate and fellow chocolate syrup fan, Max Scherzer, is my NL first half Cy Young winner. He has a 4.7 WAR; as Paul mentioned, that's first among pitchers. In 132 innings, Scherzer has given up 89 hits and 14 walks (!!!). That's a 0.78 WHIP. And oh yeah, he's struck out 150 batters. During one three game stretch, Scherzer pitched 26 innings and gave up 2 runs on 6 hits (and one HBP) while striking out 33. This choice was easy. Jacob deGrom, Jake Arrieta, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Gerrit Cole all have a ways to go to catch Mr. Scherzer.
Rookie of the Year: Joc Pederson
The Dodgers young star barely edges out Cubs 3B Kris Bryant. Pederson, whose WAR is slightly lower than Bryant's (3.1 to 3.4), gets my ROY vote because of his defense in center field. Pederson, who almost won the Home Run Derby earlier this week, hit 20 home runs and has an OBP of .364. Bryant is right at his heels, though. It should be a great second half race to watch.
Most Surprising Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Even though the NL has played out as most people thought, the Cardinals surpassed everyone's expectations. They were the fastest team to reach 50 wins since the 2005 White Sox. At the break, they are the best team in baseball with a record of 56-33 (31-11 at home). How much of this success can we attribute to computer hacking? Time will tell...
Most Disappointing Team: Miami Marlins
Unlike the Cardinals, the Marlins haven't lived up to preseason expectations. Even with the ridiculous numbers Giancarlo Stanton put up, the Marlins offense averaged just 3.7 runs per game, 13th in the NL. The great manager experiment of 2015 hasn't helped. Former team GM Dan Jennings hired himself to replace Mike Redmond in mid-May. With Redmond: 16-22. With Jennings: 22-29. Perhaps Dan's next move is to hit himself cleanup...