NL MVP: Albert Pujols – An easy call. He misses 18 days with a strained oblique and still leads the league in homers. A run at 60 bombs cannot be ruled out. He single-handedly makes the Cardinals a threat in the National League.
AL MVP: Jim Thome – My top three picks for AL MVP so far all play designated hitter. Travis Hafner would be a fine choice, but because he plays for a team seemingly out of it, he sits third. Big Papi is just as good of a choice as Thome, as 87 RBI are pretty impressive at the break. Still, I’ll give it to Thome; he plays for baseball’s best team and has a 70-point advantage in OPS over Ortiz. Make no mistake, Aaron Rowand is the best defensive centerfielder in baseball, but GM Kenny Williams really made a brilliant move bringing in Thome.
NL Cy Young: Jason Schmidt – There really isn’t an overwhelming pick here. To put it in perspective, the No. 4 finisher in the AL voting this year would absolutely qualify as the National League’s best pitcher. Schmidt has received the league’s sixth-worst run support, so he doesn’t have many wins to show for his effort. He has been rather dominant, however, holding opponents to just a .216 average. Since April ended, his ERA is 2.05. Not to mention he’s had one of the most dominant performances of the year – a 16-strikeout gem against the Marlins.
AL Cy Young: Francisco Liriano – Like I said, the fourth place finisher in the AL is having a season that would win in the NL. An argument could easily be made for Jonathan Papelbon, Johan Santana and/or Roy Halladay. All are having Cy Young caliber campaigns. My pick goes to Liriano because, well, he has been baseball’s best pitcher this year. I’ve already been effusive enough in my praise, but Liriano’s numbers really do stand out above all the rest.
NL Rookie of the Year: Josh Johnson – Prince Fielder is having a fine season, but when it comes to rookies, it’s all about the Marlins. Dan Uggla, Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham are all solid nominees, and if Jeremy Hermida hadn’t been injured, he’d probably be in the mix as well. The winner so far, however, is teammate Josh Johnson. He leads the entire league in ERA for crying out loud (he needs to pitch 1/3 of an inning to gain eligibility). Did I forget to mention that he’s yet to surrender more than three earned runs in any single start this year?
AL Rookie of the Year: Francisco Liriano – Maybe the best way to handle this situation is give Liriano the Cy Young and Papelbon the ROY award. This year’s ROY second place finisher will no doubt have the best numbers of any runner-up in the history of the game.