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2018 HR Daily First Half MLB Awards

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Hard to believe, but the first half of the 2018 MLB season is officially in the books. Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Washington was a wild and appropriate ending to a first half that has been full of surprises. As per tradition, HR Daily is here to give you our picks for the MLB Awards of the first half. Like we did last fall at season’s end, we’ll show you each member’s pick and then proclaim the winner by majority. Let’s start with the Senior Circuit:

National League:

Comeback Player of the Year:

Top Contenders: Matt Kemp- Dodgers, Jason Heyward- Cubs, Jon Lester- Cubs

Darkhorses: Starling Marte- Pirates, Lorenzo Cain- Brewers

Votes: Mike (@MikeAddvensky): Matt Kemp, Seth (@MrMac91): Jon Lester, Matt K (@MattKrysz): Starling Marte, Me (@Flat_Manigen74): Matt Kemp

Your winner, with two of four votes is Los Angeles’ Matt Kemp.

Image result for matt kemp

USA Today.

It has been a remarkable bounce-back season for the 33-year-old Kemp. After spending the last four seasons journeying from San Diego and then Atlanta, Kemp returned to Dodger Stadium this year and instantly turned back into the player that finished as NL MVP runner up in 2011. Named an All-Star this year, for the first time since 2012, Kemp’s efforts have almost single handedly kept the struggling Dodgers in contention in the NL West. He is batting .309 with 15 HR and 60 RBI.

Cy Young Award:

Top Contenders: Jacob deGrom- Mets, Max Scherzer- Nationals, Jon Lester- Cubs, Aaron Nola- Phillies

Darkhorses: Zack Greinke- Diamondbacks, Patrick Corbin- Diamondbacks, Mike Foltynewics- Braves

Votes: Mike: Jacob deGrom, Seth: Jacob deGrom, Matt K: Jacob deGrom, Me: Jacob deGrom

Your winner, unanimously, is New York’s Jacob deGrom.

Image result for jacob degrom

USA Today.

No surprise at all here. Despite the train wreck that the Mets have been, Jacob deGrom is having the year of his career, and doing it with very little run support, which is reflected in his 5-4 record. Don’t be fooled by that at all, though, because The deGrominator boasts an MLB best 1.68 ERA, is tied second in strikeouts (149) and WHIP (.97) and is fourth in BAA (.202). The speculation of the Mets trading their golden goose has been rampant and the chances of deGrom calling someplace else home by season’s end are quite high. A trade to the American League may ruin his Cy Young hopes, but deGrom is having the best season of any pitcher when you consider the circumstances.

Rookie of the Year:

Top Contenders: Juan Soto- Nationals, Brian Anderson- Marlins, Christian Villanueva- Padres

Darkhorse: Seranthony Dominguez- Phillies

Votes: Mike: Juan Soto, Seth: Brian Anderson, Matt K: Christian Villanueva, Me: Christian Villanueva

Your winner, with two of four votes, San Diego’s Christian Villanueva.

Image result for christian villanueva

MLB.

Wow, do I feel bad for baseball fans in the 619. The San Diego Padres existence for the large part has been one of failure and mediocrity (with the obvious exceptions of Tony Gwynn, Trevor Hoffman and the 1998 season), and this season has been more of that. Not even the signing of superstar 1B Eric Hosmer has shaken the team’s fortunes. That being said though, this Villanueva kid has been a major breath of fresh air for the beleaguered franchise. San Diego can’t be an easy place for a first year player to break in, but Villanueva has hit a respectable 19 homers and driven in 43 with a .762 OPS. Like Aaron Judge last year, some may not consider the Mexican a true rookie due to his age (27), but he’s a first year professional none the less and one of the NL’s best right now.

Manager of the Year: 

Top Contenders: Brian Snitker- Braves, Craig Counsell- Brewers, Gabe Kapler- Phillies

Darkhorse: Torey LoVullo- Diamondbacks

Votes: Mike: Brian Snitker, Seth: Torey LoVullo, Matt K: Gabe Kapler, Me: Craig Counsell

WE HAVE A FOUR-WAY TIE! Not one of us voted for the same person, and we cannot accept this!

Just like last year when we had a tie for AL MVP between Aaron Judge and Jose Altuve, we will let you, our readers, have the final say here. Go to our Twitter (@HomeRunDaily) and cast your choice for one of these four! You have until 8:30 PM ET tomorrow!

National League MVP:

Top Candidates: Freddie Freeman- Braves, Nolan Arenado- Rockies, Javier Baez- Cubs

Darkhorses: Eugenio Suarez- Reds, Jesus Aguilar- Brewers, Paul Goldschmidt- Diamondbacks

Votes: Mike: Freddie Freeman, Seth: Nolan Arenado, Matt K: Freddie Freeman, Me: Freddie Freeman

Your winner, with three of four votes, Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman.

Image result for freddie freeman

USA Today.

Like deGrom, not much of a surprise here. Freeman was in the midst of an MVP campaign last year when he was hit on his left hand on May 17, the resulting fracture knocked him out until the Fourth of July. He still played very well after this, but the month and a half on the shelf ruined his MVP chances. It’s going to take another big injury to prevent Freeman from taking that crown this year. The Braves first baseman has been on a different level this year and helped bring his previously dormant team back to life. The American-Canadian is batting .316 with 16 HR, 64 RBI and .939 OPS. There’s no two ways around it, those are stupidly good numbers. The Braves may be destined for great things this season if they can recover from their recent slump, and Freeman will be leading that charge.

American League:

Comeback Player of the Year:

Top Contenders: Matt Duffy- Rays, Manny Machado- Orioles, Gerrit Cole- Astros

Darkhorse: Kyle Gibson- Twins

Votes: Mike: Matt Duffy, Seth: Matt Duffy, Matt K: Michael Brantley, Me: Gerrit Cole

Your winner, with two of four votes, Tampa Bay’s Matt Duffy.

Image result for matt duffy rays

CBC.

After finishing second to Kris Bryant in 2015 NL Rookie of the Year voting, it slowly started to seem as if Matt Duffy would join the group of players that peaked as rookies and then went on to mediocrity. A trade to Tampa Bay and a severe achilles tendon injury that caused him to miss all of 2017 did not help his cause. However, this year, the Duffman has returned with a vengeance, batting .317 with a .784 OPS. He was shockingly left off the American League’s All-Star Game roster, but it takes nothing away from this guy’s incredible perseverance.

Cy Young Award:

Top Contenders: Justin Verlander- Astros, Luis Severino- Yankees, Gerrit Cole- Astros, Chris Sale- Red Sox

Darkhorses: Blake Snell- Rays, Charlie Morton- Astros, Trevor Bauer- Indians

Votes: Mike: Luis Severino, Seth: Chris Sale, Matt K: Chris Sale, Me: Chris Sale

Your winner, with three of four votes, Boston’s Chris Sale.

Image result for chris sale

Boston Globe.

Sale has yet to disappoint since changing his Sox from white to red and continues to establish himself as Boston’s ace and one of the AL’s best. Don’t get me wrong, I know that Sale was the front-runner for the award at the half, last season, but ran out of gas down the stretch, he wound up finishing second behind Corey Kluber. The Condor’s performance in the first half of this season has been just as good however, and it also appears that the new Red Sox manager Alex Cora is taking more efforts to reduce his innings than John Farrell did last season. His first half line of 10-4, 2.23 ERA, 188 Ks, .90 WHIP and .184 BAA earned him a third consecutive All-Star Game start, something that hadn’t happened for a pitcher since Hall of Famer Robin Roberts’ trifecta from 1953 to 1955. If Sale can hold it together in the second half this time around, he will earn a well deserved first Cy Young Award after finishing in the top six for the past six seasons in a row.

Rookie of the Year:

Top Contenders: Gleyber Torres- Yankees, Shohei Ohtani- Angels

Votes: Mike: Gleyber Torres, Seth: Gleyber Torres, Matt K: Gleyber Torres, Me: Gleyber Torres

Your winner, unanimously, New York’s Gleyber Torres.

Image result for gleyber torres

NY Post.

2018 hasn’t been that big a year for rookie action. After we were spoiled last season by Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, Andrew Benintendi and Trey Mancini, this season has been plain dull. Everyone in the world was intrigued to see what Shohei Ohtani was going to do, and while he’s been good, he hasn’t lived up to the hype (not his fault though, the hype was too big for anyone). The Yankees’ Gleyber Torres emerged from underneath Ohtani’s shadow and has been quite impressive, showing us just why fans in the Bronx have been so excited since he was acquired from the Cubs as part of the return for Aroldis Chapman. The future superstar is batting .294 with a .905 OPS, earning him an All-Star appearance. Not bad at all for a guy who turned the drinking age last December.

Manager of the Year:

Top Conteders: Bob Melvin- Athletics, Scott Servais- Mariners, Alex Cora- Red Sox

Darkhorse: , Kevin Cash- Rays, Mike Scioscia- Angels

Votes: Mike: Alex Cora, Seth: Scott Servais, Matt K: Scott Servais, Me: Scott Servais

Your winner, with three of four votes, Seattle’s Scott Servais (try saying that three times fast).

Image result for scott servais

Seattle Times.

There are many deserving candidates in the AL for this award, and like the NL, the voting for it at season’s end is likely to be very tough for the BBWAA. Servais’ Mariners have been one of the stories of the year in the American League and are fighting for contention in a very tight AL West, with the similar surprise of the Oakland Athletics also adding to the intrigue. Even with the Mariners losing their biggest piece, Robinson Cano, to a half-season PED suspension, they haven’t missed a beat and are only five out of the division leading Astros, thanks to the continued consistency of Nelson Cruz and Jean Segura’s breakout. Servais should be commended for holding his team together through the trials they’ve faced. Seattle inherited North American professional sports’ longest playoff drought from the NFL’s Buffalo Bills this past winter. Will they break it on their first attempt?

American League MVP:

Top Contenders: Mike Trout- Angels, Mookie Betts- Red Sox, Jose Ramirez- Indians, JD Martinez- Red Sox

Darkhorse: Jose Altuve- Astros

Votes: Mike: JD Martinez, Seth: Mookie Betts, Matt K: Jose Ramirez, Me: JD Martinez

Your winner, with two of four votes, Boston’s JD Martinez.

Image result for jd martinez

NESN.

Martinez has lived up to the hype in Boston, and then some. Signed as a counter move to the Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, Martinez’ remarkable first half has ensured that the Red Sox haven’t fallen behind their storied rivals. What makes Martinez so valuable to Boston is that he’s done exactly what was expected of him. He’s sparked the Red Sox offense and taken pressure off other key bats. The end result? Only the Sox being in first place in a season where nobody though they would. In fact, Boston has led the AL East for a majority of the year.  It more than likely won’t happen, but the 30-year-old player currently has a shot at the Triple Crown with his .325 AVG (third), 29 HR (second) and 80 RBI (first). For those of you who believe primary designated hitters shouldn’t win MVP, he’s played left field a good number of games and his defense has been solid. Martinez’ all-around production has helped propel the Red Sox past the powerhouse Yankees. He’s been an MVP in every sense so far during his tenure in Beantown.

What are your choices? Be sure to let us know on Twitter!

 

 

 

American League

Rangers Sign Rafael Montero

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The Texas Rangers have agreed to terms on a minor-league deal with right handed pitcher Rafael Montero, according to the Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant.

Montero is still working back from Tommy John surgery, and was once a top prospect in the New York Mets organization , but struggled transitioning to the major league level, putting together a woeful 5.38 ERA over 192 1/3 innings pitched.

 

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American League

Astros Sign Robinson Chirinos to One-Year Deal

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The Houston Astros are signing free agent catcher Robinson Chirinos to a one-year deal with $5.75 million, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Chirinos had a career year in 2017 while playing for the Texas Rangers, but had a dramatic dip in production during the 2018 season and was no brought back by the team. Chirinos isn’t considered a defensive stud behind the plate either, and will join Max Stassi in the Astros catching rotation.

 

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American League

Angels Announce Coaching Staff

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The Los Angeles Angels have announced the coaching staff for brand new manager Brad Ausmus.

Pitching coach Doug White, hitting coach Jeremy Reed, and assistant hitting coach Shawn Wooten have already been announced as additions to Ausmus’ staff.

Long-time MLB infielder Mike Gallego will work with infielders and coach third base. Jose Molina, the former big league catcher, will work with catchers. Additionally, Jesus Feliciano will be slated to work with the outfielders and former slugger Paul Sorrento will join the hitting coaches team.

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