The 2019 Major League Baseball season has featured several compelling teams, players, and storylines. Here are midseason MLB Awards for the American and National League.
AL MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
It doesn’t matter if the Angels are in the playoff hunt, or rotting at the bottom of the AL: Trout is the best player in MLB.
Fresh off signing the most expensive contract in North American sports (Trout and the Angels agreed to a 12-year, $427 million extension in March), Trout is having another spectacular season. Hitting .301 while totaling 28 home runs and 67 RBIs, he’s on pace to have the most productive season of his career. Trout also owns an AL-best 1.098 OPS. To put this in perspective, the next highest OPS in the AL is Carlos Santana (.958).
Defensively, Trout has been his stellar self. He has committed just one error, is getting behind fly balls with ease, and preventing runners from taking a turn to second base given his strong arm. Trout has been the AL’s Most Valuable Player.
NL MVP: Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers
Christian Yelich is having a historic season, but Bellinger has been a wee bit better than the 2018 NL MVP.
After being a home run-or-bust-type hitter in the first two years of his career, Bellinger has become one of the best all-around hitters in baseball. Hitting .336 whole totaling 30 home runs, 71 RBIs, 54 walks, and just 56 strikeouts, he has been the driving force of the Dodgers offense. He also owns a 1.124 OPS.
Bellinger has been the most dangerous hitter in the sport this season and made the Dodgers the most complete team in the sport. What separates Bellinger from Yelich is that he’s a more steady hitter on the road, as well as his defensive versatility; Bellinger plays first base, as well as center and right field at a high level.
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
Verlander is as lethal in 2019 as he was in his “prime.” He has also been the most electric starting pitcher in the AL this season.
In 19 starts, Verlander has recorded a 2.98 ERA and an MLB-best 0.81 WHIP while totaling 153 strikeouts in 126.2 innings. Opponents are also hitting an MLB-low .168 against him. He continues to pitch deep into games, deceive hitters with his offerings, and flat-out dominate lineups.
Home runs have been an issue for Verlander, but he’s a big-game pitcher and continues to be the anchor of the Astros pitching staff. There’s not a pitcher in the AL you’d take in a pivotal game over Verlander.
NL Cy Young: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers
Is there a better story in MLB right now than Ryu?
Injuries have plagued the left-hander’s career, but this year he has been healthy and the best starting pitching in baseball. Ryu owns an MLB-best 1.73 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and has surrendered just 10 walks. He’s the ace of a pitching staff that includes Clayton Kershaw and 2018 Rookie of the Year finalist Walker Buehler.
If the Dodgers have to give the ball to a pitcher in a win-or-go-home game, they’re giving Ryu the nod. He’s making hitters look silly, has shown what he’s capable of, surrendered over two earned runs in just one of his 17 starts, and pitched through the seventh inning in nine starts.
AL Rookie of the Year: Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays
There have been plenty of developments in Tampa Bay this season, one of them being Lowe.
The second baseman is putting together a spectacular first full season in the big leagues. Hitting .276 whole totaling 16 home runs and 49 RBIs, he has been a necessary source of offense for manager Kevin Cash‘s lineup. He also leads qualified AL rookies in OPS (.862). The second baseman is a contact hitter who is a versatile fielder; outside of locking down second base, Lowe has played both corner outfield positions, as well as first base.
Before suffering an injury last week, Lowe was placed on the AL All-Star Game roster. The best is yet to come for the 25-year-old, and he will surely be a vital piece in the Rays’ push to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
NL Rookie of the Year: Pete Alonso, New York Mets
The Mets are a fire that can’t be put out, but Alonso is a significant bright spot in a dark season.
Alonso is flat-out demolishing baseballs. Totaling 30 home runs and 68 RBIs while hitting .280 and sporting a 1.006 OPS — which ranks sixth in the sport — he has been an irreplaceable source of offense in the Mets lineup. To hone on his power, Alonso owns a 17.9 barrel percentage, which ranks in the top two percent in baseball.
The first baseman has also been a steady presence in the field. He scoops one-hoppers with ease, has good awareness, and shown an ability to be a reliable force at the corner infield position. Alonso has the tools to be the next Paul Goldschmidt — perhaps with even more power.
AL Manager of the Year: Rocco Baldelli, Minnesota Twins
At 56-33, the Twins are in first place in the AL Central and a force to be reckoned with. They lead MLB in home runs (166), have a potent offense, and their starting rotation has been a reliable unit. Minnesota’s Achilles heel has been their bullpen, but Baldelli has done a plausible job maneuvering around the liability and managing a young roster.
Last season the Twins won 78 games and missed the playoffs. This season they’re likely going to surpass that amount in August and look poised to win their division for the first time since 2010. Credit is warranted across the board, which includes the manager.
NL Manager of the Year: Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers (60-32) have been a pig among guinea pugs this season, and manager Dave Roberts has pushed all the right buttons.
It’s not to say that the Dodgers are the only team in the NL having a great season because the Atlanta Braves have also been a highly competitive ballclub. At the same time, the Dodgers are the only team in the NL with a winning percentage above 60, and their roster literally has no weakness. Their lineup is invincible, they have the best starting rotation in baseball, and their bullpen has been a steady force.
Roberts has received criticism in the past for making bizarre pitching changes in both the regular season and postseason. But this season he has been phenomenal. He’s trusting his starters and making the appropriate tweaks to his lineup on a nightly basis. His team has feasted on the NL, and there appears to be no end in sight.