Yankees First Half Awards
Miraculously, the All-Star Game is now behind us, and the second half of the season is about to begin. Through injuries, RISP failures, and flat out inconsistent play, the Yankees are somehow continuing to be the best team in baseball at 52-33. I’m very proud of the Bombers and what they have accomplished with all that’s been thrown their way, so I’m going to hand out some first-half awards to the most deserving Yanks on the team. At the end of the regular season, I’ll give the same awards out, and see who kept those honors in the second half.
YANKEES MVP – Robinson Cano (.313 AVG, 20 HR, 51 RBI)
For what I believe would be my third straight year giving him the award, Robinson Cano is the Yankees’ First Half MVP in my mind. Getting off to an unusual slow start in the early part of the season, Cano has really heated up since the start of May, batting .344 since. He leads the team in RBI, batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS, so stats-wise, he is the clear cut MVP. He also already has 20 home runs, thanks to hitting 9 in his last 25 games. He’s well on his way to break his home run record of 29 in 2010, and should be in the thick of the running for the AL MVP come season’s end. My runners up are Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson. Both had great first halves, but without Cano the Yankees are probably treading water right now.
YANKEES CY YOUNG AWARD – Rafael Soriano (2-0, 1.60 ERA, 20 SV)
This is a questionable and tough award to hand out. Typically, the Cy Young goes to the best starter, but it’s hard to choose from this bunch. I could say CC Sabathia, but he’s had a handful of rough outings. Andy Pettitte has only made 9 starts, and Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, and Hiroki Kuroda have all had inconsistent stretches. So to me, the Yankees “Cy Young” so far, is their closer Rafael Soriano. Who would have thought that when Mariano Rivera went down for the season, Soriano would step up and be one of the best closers in baseball – not to brag, I did. I strongly supported the idea of giving Soriano a chance to redeem himself after a mediocre first year in New York, and so far he’s done way more than that. It’s a shocker to me he’s not an All-Star, and he has regained the swagger and poise that made him such a feared closer in 2010, when he saved 45 games for the Rays. There’s just no doubt that Sori is the most consistent and reliable pitcher this year for the Yankees.
YANKEES ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – David Phelps (3.05 ERA in 41.1 IP)
To some, this award doesn’t mean much, because there’s only a couple rookies who have been on the roster for longer than a week. But the one who has been here the longest, and now is in AA being stretched out, is David Phelps. At the beginning of the season, he was a stud, being the long man in the bullpen, getting key outs and turning away fierce hitters. When the Yankees needed him to spot start, he answered the call and did great, scattering 3 runs over 3 starts. Most recently, he struck out 8 over 7 innings of work against the Rays a little more than a week ago. Congrats David, hopefully the award can be sent to ‘ya in Trenton.
YANKEES COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Phil Hughes (9-7, 4.33 ERA, 92 SO)
Granted, Phil Hughes is nowhere near a solid starter, but he is head and shoulders above where he was last year. After being out of shape and injured early on in 2011, Hughes finished the year with a 5.79 ERA in just 17 games. Reverting back to the offseason program and mentality that made him a great #3 starter for the Yankees in 2010, Hughes has since become that again here in 2012. After more downs than ups from April to the middle part of May, Hughes has really turned it on of late, allowing just 5 earned runs in his last 7 starts. The thing that clinches this award for Hughes, besides no other player really in a comeback situation, is that he has been healthy and has grown to be a consistent starter, knocking on wood, since May. If he keeps it up, he has a chance to start the fourth game in a 7-game series, considering CC, Kuroda, and Pettitte get the first three. Keep it up Phil.
So there you guys have it. Those are my awards for the first half of the Yankees season. Do you agree? Are there more awards you can think of? More deserving players? Comment below!