The All-Star break represents many things. For teams and fans alike, it is both the artificial halfway point of the season and a sorely needed four day respite from the daily grind. For folk like us, it is the most acceptable of arbitrary endpoints in the Major League Baseball season, giving us carte blanche to draw bold conclusions about the year to-date. Or, at the very least, as good a reason as any to muse on the season thus far. With that in mind, we decided to hand out some imaginary awards for the first half of 2015; though, to be fair, these are imaginary versions of the already imaginary versions that we give out at the end of every season. Such is life outside of the BBWAA. In addition to the standard award fare (being MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year for both leagues), each writer voted for three Yankee-centric awards - Offensive Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, and the ignominious Least Valuable Player.
Without further ado:
AL MVP: Mike Trout - .312/.405/.614, 68 R, 26 HR, 55 RBI, 9 SB, 184 wRC+, 5.6 fWAR, 5.9 bWAR
The 23-year-old reigning MVP currently sports career-bests in SLG, ISO, wOBA, and wRC+, and he's on-pace to set a career-high in home runs, to boot. He's also hitting the ball harder than before, with career-highs in both line drive rate and hard-hit percentage. It's almost absurd that Trout is still improving his game, given the historically brilliant start to his career ... and yet here we are.
Also receiving votes - Josh Donaldson
NL MVP: Bryce Harper - .339/.464/.704, 59 R, 26 HR, 61 RBI, 4 SB, 216 wRC+, 5.7 fWAR, 6.2 bWAR
As good as Trout has been, Harper has been on an entirely different level offensively - he's been, dare I say, borderline Bonds-ian (albeit with an elite free pass rate, instead of video game numbers). This is the sort of breakout that we were waiting for when Harper was posting numbers that were "damn good for a young player;" numbers befitting of the young man that graced the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 16. And now, at all of 22, he has been the best player in baseball in 2015. I, for one, am thoroughly enjoying the ride.
Also receiving votes - N.A.
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale - 119.1 IP, 90 H, 23 BB, 157 K, 2.72 ERA, 2.21 FIP, 4.1 fWAR, 3.4 bWAR
Sale leads all starting pitchers in strikeouts, K/9, K%, K-BB%, and whiff rate. He's induced 318 swings and misses - no other pitcher has over 300. He struck out 10+ batters in eight consecutive starts, and has reached double-digits in ten of his seventeen starts. I guess what I'm getting at is this: it's really freaking hard to make contact against Chris Sale.
Also receiving votes - Dallas Keuchel
NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer - 132.0 IP, 89 H, 14 BB, 150 K, 2.11 ERA, 2.20 FIP, 4.7 fWAR, 4.7 bWAR
Scherzer is head and shoulders above the competition in most every respect - he's averaging over 7 IP per start, striking out nearly eleven batters for every one he walks (two-plus ahead of the second-place Michael Pineda), and he's leading the Majors in H/9, FIP, WHIP, and both versions of WAR. In addition to being dominant on the whole, he has also been remarkably consistent, throwing at least 6 IP in all but one of his starts and allowing more than 2 ER only four times. Diminishing returns be damned, Nationals fans must be exceedingly happy with Scherzer's seven-year deal thus far.
Also receiving votes - N.A.
AL RoY: Carlos Correa - .276/.312/.507, 18 R, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 5 SB, 128 wRC+, 1.4 fWAR, 1.6 bWAR
In 2012, the Astros were accused of taking Correa as an easy sign with the first overall pick in the Rule IV draft, passing up on more talented players like Byron Buxton and Mark Appel. Three years and three top-15 prospect rankings by Baseball America later, Correa is raking at the big league level, showcasing the tremendous all-around talent and maturity that Houston's front office fawned over. This selection may seem premature, given that he's only played 32 games ... but the runner-up missed about a month, and Correa has been too good to overlook.
Also receiving votes - Devon Travis
NL RoY: Kris Bryant - .269/.376/.472, 47 R, 12 HR, 51 RBI, 8 SB, 136 wRC+, 3.5 fWAR, 2.9 bWAR
This was the only choice that was a dead heat, with Bryant edging out Pederson by one vote. Baseball America's top-rated prospect has been as good as advertised this season, posting well above-average offensive numbers (including a 25-ish home run pace) with plenty of walks and a ton of strikeouts. Interestingly enough, defense at the hot corner is/was the greatest flaw in Bryant's game, but UZR absolutely loves his glove and everything else sees it as just about average.
Also receiving votes - Joc Pederson
Yankees Offensive Player of the Year: Brett Gardner - .302/.377/.484, 63 R, 10 HR, 42 RBI, 15 SB, 140 wRC+, 2.6 fWAR, 3.5 bWAR
Gardner is in the midst of what may end up being his best season, with career-highs in ISO, wOBA, and wRC+. With 70-plus games to play, he needs only 0.2 oWAR to tie his career-best mark, and he's also running the bases with more efficiency than he has since his 2012 season was all but lost to injury. Rodriguez has been a tick better with the bat (and a great story), but Gardner's speed pushes him a bit ahead of the pack - and, while the category is 'offensive player of the year,' the fact that Rodriguez is a full-time DH does hinder his cause at least a bit, as he is strictly a hitter.
Yankees Pitcher of the Year: Dellin Betances - 47.0 IP, 20 H, 19 BB, 77 K, 1.53 ERA, 1.69 FIP, 1.9 fWAR, 2.0 bWAR
Betances has largely been the same pitcher that he was in 2014 thus far - his K-BB%, ERA, and FIP are eerily similar, and he's on-pace to throw roughly the same number of innings. That being said, he is both walking and striking out more batters, and pitching more often. Overall, he's been dominant once more ... the inputs have simply changed.
Pineda probably deserved a bit more love, but his numbers are still a bit skewed by a rough stretch from mid-May through mid-June, leaving him with a league-average-ish ERA despite some stellar peripherals.
Also receiving votes - Michael Pineda
Yankees LVP: Carlos Beltran - .260/.309/.430, 21 R, 7 HR, 30 RBI, 0 SB, 102 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR, -0.5 bWAR
This may well be the upset of the century (though, I'm not sure who was 'upset' - Beltran, or Sabathia). Beltran has been somewhere around replacement-level this season, combining horrendous fielding with a roughly average bat. His .481 OPS in April and inability to stay on the field color our perception a bit, as he has been surprisingly solid with the bat since the weather warmed up (.299/.346/.494 since May 1). Here's hoping that he can stay healthy and continue to hit once he returns from the DL.