CARNEY: Heading Into Break, My First Half Superlatives

We're way beyond the actual halfway point of the regular season (the Rays will play their 96th game of the year Sunday), but the All-Star break is the point where you try and narrow down who will be on the short list of consideration for postseason awards.  In this article I'll give you my choices for the most outstanding hitter, pitcher, rookie, and manager in the American League, and who else I think will also be considered for a similar award presented by the Baseball Writers Association of America (of which I am not a member).

MOST OUTSTANDING HITTER

Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

I don't know of another hitter in the American League (Mike Trout included) that inspires such fear in opposing pitchers like the Boston right fielder does. Betts is currently leading the American League in batting average (.362), slugging (.698), and OPS (1.148), and while he may be eighth in hits, 11th in doubles, sixth in home runs and 30th in RBI's, he has also only played 77 games this year (whereas most league leaders have appeared in between 94 and 96 games).  He's also leading all of MLB in wRC+ (203) and despite having played in 19 fewer games, is just 0.5 behind Trout in WAR.

Others to consider:

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians

Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians

MOST OUTSTANDING PITCHER

Justin Verlander, Houston Astros

His age now equals his jersey number, but the former Cy Young Award winner and MVP is still considered among the elite pitchers in all of baseball.  He may not be 14-2 like other pitchers in the American League, but he is still leading the league in ERA (2.09) and has struck out 160 batters (and has one final start Sunday against his former club the Detroit Tigers) in 131 2/3 innings and walked just 24.  The other noteworthy aspect of Verlander is that you know that he won't wilt down the stretch of a playoff push unlike certain other pitchers.

Others to consider:

Luis Severino, Yankees

Corey Kluber, Indians

Blake Snell, Rays

Gerrit Cole, Astros

MOST OUTSTANDING ROOKIE

Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees

With the start of the year that Shohei Ohtani had for the Los Angeles Angels, you would think that he would have run away with the award.  But once the pitcher/DH strained his UCL and spent a good majority of the first half of the year on the disabled list, that threw things back wide open.  And the 21-year-old second baseman has stepped right to the forefront, hitting .294/.350/.555 with 15 home runs and 42 RBI.  However, the rest of this rookie class can get right back into things now that Torres is expected to miss the rest of the month with a right hip strain.

Others to consider:

Shohei Ohtani, Angels

Miguel Andujar, Yankees

Jake Bauers, Rays

MOST OUTSTANDING MANAGER

Scott Servais, Seattle Mariners

Cool your jets, Rays fans.  I understand that Kevin Cash has done a wonderful job with the Rays, especially with all the injury issues that have occurred since the start of the spring.  But the Rays won 80 games last year and are on pace to win around 85 this year.  That's good, but Servais and the Mariners have gone from a 78-84 squad in 2017 to a team that is 20 games over .500 so far and has a real strong chance of making the postseason this year for the first time since 2001.  That gives him my vote.

Others to consider:

Kevin Cash, Rays

Alex Cora, Red Sox

Aaron Boone, Yankees


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