MLB Mid-Season Awards Tracker

Who are the award favorites at the All-Star break?

We’re past the All-Star break, and with that comes the excitement of the trade deadline and stretch run. It’s also a great time to take stock of who has positioned themselves to win some award hardware after the season. Below are the leading candidates for MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year coming out of the break, along with other players in the hunt.


American League Front Runner:  Shohei Ohtani

The AL MVP will be Shohei Ohtani unless he misses significant time to injury down the stretch or gets traded to an NL team. Ohtani has been so good that no one else is even close in the American League. His 32 dingers and 1.050 OPS led MLB at the break, and he’d be a leading candidate even if he were a full-time DH. On the mound, he went 7-4 with a 3.32 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 11.8 K/9 in the first half. If this guy keeps it up, they’ll rename the award after him one day.

If you are a fan of WAR, the average of Ohtani’s bWAR (Baseball Reference) and fWAR (Fangraphs) is over two runs higher than the AL runner-up, Wander Franco, who would default to the front runner if Shohei ends up in the NL. Also in the mix would be the Texas duo of Corey Seager and Adolis García. Seager has been tremendous but missed a month due to injury, while Garcia leads the league in RBI. Luis Robert Jr. has quietly put together a stellar season as well, with an average WAR just under Franco’s. However, he isn’t likely to garner many votes playing for the disappointing White Sox.

National League Front Runner:  Ronald Acuña Jr.

Ronald Acuña Jr. is nearly as uncatchable as Ohtani in the NL. Atlanta’s right-fielder put up eye-popping stats in the first half, slashing .331/.408/.582 with 21 HRs, 79 runs, 55 RBI, and 41 SBs. Acuna has a legit shot at a 40 HR / 60 SB season, a feat that has never been accomplished. Even if Acuna’s production wanes in the second half and he falls short of this mark, his final numbers will be hard for another player to match. The only argument against him is that his team is chock-full of superstars also in the MVP conversation, including Matt Olson, Sean Murphy, and Ozzie Albies.

Should Acuna drop back, Mookie Betts appears best positioned to snag the crown from him. Betts’ average WAR is within spitting distance of Acuna’s, and he’s been the definition of an “MVP” this season for the Dodgers, starting several games at second base and shortstop in addition to his regular right field position. Like Acuna, Betts has plenty of talent around him, especially Freddie Freeman, who will also rank high on voter lists.

Cy Young

American League Front Runner:  Gerrit Cole

Unlike the MVP, the Cy Young races are wide open. Gerrit Cole is probably the favorite in the AL with his 9-2 record, 2.85 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 9.5 K/9 over 117 and two-thirds innings. However, plenty of other starters have made a strong case. Nathan Eovaldi put up similar numbers to Cole with a lower FIP. Shane McClanahan is 11-1 with a 2.53 ERA, just shy of Framber Valdez’s AL-leading 2.51 among qualified starters. Last,  Kevin Gausman can boast an average WAR in the same range as the others.

Could this be one of the rare years when a reliever wins the Cy Young? If he keeps up his current pace, Félix Bautista will make voters think about it. Bautista had 23 saves in the first half with a 1.07 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and other-worldly 18 K/9. Think about that – this guy averaged two strikeouts per inning pitched!

National League Front Runner:  Zac Gallen

Zac Gallen heads into the second half as the NL front-runner after winning 11 games with a 3.04 ERA, 1.5 WHIP, and 9.5 K/9 before the break. Like Cole, he’s far from a sure thing at this point, as several other NL hurlers can make a claim. Spencer Strider could be Gallen’s biggest threat, matching his 11 wins with a dominating 14.3 K/9. He’ll need to lower his 3.44 first-half ERA, though. Also in the running are the Cubs’ duo of Justin Steele and Marcus Stroman, the underrated Logan Webb, and the sentimental favorite, Clayton Kershaw, if he can return from the IL soon.

As in the AL, a few NL relievers will also give the voters something to consider. Alexis Díaz saved 26 games for the Reds in the first half with a 2.03 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 13.7 K/9. David Bednar may have been even better, except for the saves. Before the break, he posted a 1.27 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 10.7 K/9 with 17 saves.

Rookie of the Year

American League Front Runner:  Josh Jung

The Rookie of the Year race in the AL should be good. All-Star starter Josh Jung is the leader in the clubhouse after slugging 19 HRs, scoring 62 runs, and driving in 56 in Texas’ devastating lineup in the first half. He’s no lock, however, as preseason favorite Gunnar Henderson shook off a rough start to put his name back in the chase with a hot June and July. Elsewhere, Luke Raley has been a pleasant surprise in Tampa with his 15 HRs, and Masataka Yoshida hit .316 with ten HRs, 47 runs, 44 RBI, and six SBs.

Among AL rookie pitchers, Hunter Brown, Tanner Bibee, and Bryce Miller have impressed, while in the bullpen, Yennier Cano allowed only seven earned runs in the first half over 42 and two-thirds innings. The field is open in the AL as several players have a shot at the award with a big second half.

National League Front Runner:  Corbin Carroll

Corbin Carroll isn’t just the NL Rookie front-runner; he’s an MVP candidate. Carroll tied Freeman for average WAR behind Acuna and Betts in the first half, slugging 18 HRs and stealing 26 bases while slashing .289/.366/.549. He’s running away with this one barring a second-half meltdown.

Should Carroll open the door for another player, look no further than the Cincinnati Reds, who have four rookies in the mix. Spencer Steer is the only one who started the year with the big club, while Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz, and Andrew Abbott have impressed since being called up. De La Cruz is the most exciting of the quartet, but he’ll need to cut down on his K% to keep his average up.

Beyond the Reds, three other pitchers deserve a mention. Kodai Senga is 30, but he’s a rookie in MLB’s eyes and has been a steady contributor for the Mets this season. Bobby Miller and Eury Pérez were both pressed into service earlier than their clubs would have preferred this year, but both have lived up to the hype. Perez is already back in the minors as the Marlins monitor his innings, and Miller may suffer the same fate if the Dodgers add a starter at the deadline.

Scott Youngson

Scott is a SoCal native who, after two decades of fighting L.A. traffic, decided to turn his passion for fantasy sports into a blog - the now-defunct Fantasy Mutant. He currently writes for FantasyPros and Pitcher List and will vehemently defend the validity of the Dodgers' 60-game season championship.

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