No Regard

July 1, 2008

MLB Midseason Report: Part 1

We’re adding to our staff here at No Regard. Before this fine, currently anonymous, gentlemen officially debuts here, we thought we would let him have the first crack at our (true) midseason awards. Here’s how it works:

We will give you our current top five and our projected top five for:

MVP and Cy Young (Voting Points): 7-5-3-2-1

We will also give you our current top three and our projected top three for:

Rookie and Manager of the Year (Voting Points): 5-3-1

AL MVP right now

1.Josh Hamilton (TEX): Not a bad resume: Leads the league in RBIs, tied for first in home runs and hitting over .300. Plus, the Rangers are respectable and his well-known life story will get him a few extra votes.

2.Milton Bradley (TEX): I can’t stand him. And he has been fantastic (see: fluke).

3.Carlos Quentin (CHW): Arizona should have never thrown him away. Quentin carried the Windy City Sox through May and led them to a surprising perch atop the division.

4.Ian Kinsler (TEX): It’s a real shame this team still can’t pitch.

5.J.D. Drew (BOS): It’s only been a month, but holy torn tendon sheath — what a month!

AL MVP at the end

1.Josh Hamilton (TEX): He is the natural. He’ll put up some numbers – say, .305, 40 and 145 – that will be hard to ignore.

2.Alex Rodriguez (NYY): Why? Because it’s Alex Rodriguez. He’s always around here.

3.Manny Ramirez (BOS): Another good season for one of the best hitters of this generation.

4.Jermaine Dye (CWS): This is probably the least-sexiest pick for MVP ever, but he has taken over for Quentin and the White Sox are going to hold off the Tigers to win the division.

5.Evan Longoria (TB): I know he’s a rookie, but he’s getting real hot. The Rays will make the playoffs, and I could see him ending up with 30-35 home runs.

AL Cy Young right now

1.Cliff Lee (CLE): This is a very tough category to sort, but there is no doubt that Lee is the winner at the halfway point. He came back down to earth over the past few weeks, but for right now, he’s still riding the residuals from his ridiculous beginning.

2.Roy Halladay (TOR): Yeah, the Blue Jays are pretty bad, but it’s not his fault. Halladay is putting up some very impressive numbers for a team that is barely averaging four runs per game.

3.Mariano Rivera (NYY): At the age of 38, he’s putting up some of the best numbers of his historic career.

4.John Lackey (LAA): There just hasn’t been a better pitcher in the game over the past six weeks.

5.Joe Saunders (LAA): Saunders has provided quality innings for a team that desperately needed it coming out of spring training. Needless to say, nobody saw this coming from a guy with a career ERA of 4.70.

AL Cy Young at the end

1.John Lackey (LAA): He may very well continue this hot streak, in which case he will have deserved this.

2.Scott Kazmir (TB): Kazmir has been just about as good as Lackey since he came back from injury and, as I said before, this team is going to the playoffs. That sounds a bit like Jim Fassel.

3.Cliff Lee (CLE): He rebounded through a bit of a rough patch to post three straight quality starts this month, so I don’t think he’ll go away.

4.Roy Halladay (TOR): Toronto will continue to struggle. Halladay will continue to be an absolute horse.

5.Josh Beckett (BOS): He should probably have a couple more wins right now, but he is a slightly better second-half pitcher.

AL Rookie of the Year right now

1.Evan Longoria (TB): I didn’t think he would be very good to start. I was dead wrong.

2.Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS): He’s going to break the Red Sox’s franchise record for stolen bases in a season, and he’s the spark plug for the game’s second-best offense.

3.David Murphy (TEX): These Rangers are apparently the modern-day reincarnation of the ’27 Yankees.

AL Rookie of the Year at the end

1.Evan Longoria (TB): I think I gave this one away a little early.

2.Joba Chamberlain (NYY): Now a starter, Joba allowed just two runs in his past 18.1 innings entering July. He will claim a few more votes due to all of the hype surrounding him.

3.Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS): He won’t have the huge season that many predicted back in March, but he will break that stolen base record.

AL Manager of the Year right now

1.Joe Maddon (TB): If I could give him all three spots on this list, I would.

2.Bob Geren (OAK): Apparently, you can compete for a division title with a triple-A team.

3.Ozzie Guillen (CWS): The Tigers were supposed to run away with the AL Central. Ozzie (bleeping) Guillen has stopped that with his … quirky brand of managing.

AL Manager of the Year at the end

1.Joe Maddon (TB): It’s a lock. Just give it to him now. Name it the honorary Joe Maddon Award.

2.Bob Geren (OAK): He was my pick to win it at the beginning of the year. It will still look OK at the end of the year.

3.Ozzie Guillen (CWS): He will hold off Twins manager Ron Gardenhire for the division title and for this spot in the award voting.

NL MVP right now

1.Lance Berkman (HOU): The Astros aren’t going anywhere, but Berkman has been fantastic this year. Before the season is out, the talk about Berkman winning the Triple Crown will pick up.

2.Chipper Jones (ATL): He’s slumping. You can tell because his average is .394 entering July.

3.Chase Utley (PHI): Utley went through a big 1-for-29 slump in mid-June, but much like Berkman and Jones, there was a time where pitchers found it impossible to get him out.

4.Dan Uggla (FLA): Most of his statistics are very similar to Utley’s. They are tied for the league lead in home runs.

5.Albert Pujols (STL): He strained his calf in June and looked to be out for a while. He came back 15 days later and has picked up right where he left off with a .359 average and 17 home runs.

NL MVP at the end

1.Albert Pujols (STL): I took Prince Fielder to win the award in March. Pujols has simply become one of the players you can’t second-guess. Getting the Cardinals to the playoffs after such low expectations will help his cause here.

2.Lance Berkman (HOU): I don’t think he will cool off that much. If I think he is going to be in the running for the Triple Crown, you know I think he’s going to be up around here.

3.Chase Utley (PHI): Utley will fall short of giving the Phillies three consecutive MVPs, but he’ll probably set a ton of production records for a second baseman.

4.Hanley Ramirez (FLA): Ramirez is unmatched in his combined talent at the plate and on the bases. Now that his team is in contention, he’ll get some consideration.

5.Derrek Lee (CHC): Besides Kerry Wood closing games, Lee deserves the most credit on the field for the Cubs playing with the best record in the National League.

NL Cy Young right now
1.Edinson Volquez (CIN): Second in wins and Ks, while leading in ERA? Yeah, I think that qualifies. He’s had a couple of rough outings lately and his ERA has shot up more than a half of a run – to 2.08.

2.Tim Lincecum (SF): If he played for a team, he would have at least three more wins right now.

3.Brandon Webb (ARI): He would be the guy I would take if I needed to win one game. And he’s been this good consistently for nearly three seasons. He already has 12 wins as we enter July.

4.Dan Haren (ARI): He has a lower WHIP and more strikeouts than Webb. Haren is still underrated too often, but I guess last year wasn’t any fluke after all.

5.Ben Sheets (MIL): So this is what happens when Ben Sheets stays healthy. It’s been so long, I nearly forgot.

NL Cy Young at the end
1.Brandon Webb (ARI): I don’t have A-Rod winning the AL MVP, but I am not betting against the best in this field right now.

2.Tim Lincecum (SF): Watching Lincecum gives you the same thought as when watching that “Chocolate Rain” video on YouTube: How is something so forceful coming out of that little, baby-faced body?

3.Jake Peavy (SD): Welcome to the NL West, where batters want to take their name off the lineup card.

4.Johan Santana (NYM): Everyone knows that Santana is a second-half pitcher. Too bad the Mets won’t improve with him.

5.Edinson Volquez (CIN): He pitches in a hitter’s haven, he walks too many batters and he will hit a physical wall soon. Still, he’ll finish with totals worthy of this spot.

NL Rookie of the Year right now

1.Kosuke Fukudome (CHC): I don’t think he should be eligible, but he is and leads all “rookies” in runs and batting average.

2.Jair Jurrgens (ATL): The Braves have to be ecstatic seeing how that Edgar Renteria trade worked out. Jurrgens enters July on a streak of 21.1 innings pitching without allowing an earned run.

3.Geovany Soto (CHC): Solid offensive production out of the catcher position.

NL Rookie of the Year at the end

1.Kosuke Fukudome (CHC): He’ll win it because he knows how to handle the grind of playing a full season. That has always seemed unfair, but no one ever wants to listen.

2.Geovany Soto (CHC): As you can see, the winner is most likely going to come from the north side.

3.Joey Votto (CIN): He’ll have many years where he will hit at least 30 home runs. People will have to settle for about 25 this year.

NL Manager of the Year right now

1.Fredi Gonzalez (FLA): Somebody tell me how Florida became the epicenter of Major League Baseball success?

2.Lou Piniella (CHC): That decision to move Wood into the closer’s role has worked like a charm. Of course, Cubs fans realize that much can still go wrong.

3.Tony La Russa (STL): His team is contending without Chris Carpenter, but rejects Kyle Lohse and Braden Looper have become aces of the staff. That deserves some notice for La Russa and his staff.

NL Manager of the Year at the end

1.Lou Piniella (CHC): The Cubs will lock up the best record in the league and Lou will lock up his third manager of the year award.

2.Tony La Russa (STL): This team really should have no chance of reaching the playoffs, but because of those surprise pitchers and the complete transformation of Rick Ankiel, they will get the wild card.

3.Fredi Gonzalez (FLA): I think the Marlins’ pitching staff is too weak to carry them to the playoffs, but from what the team has done already, everything else is pretty much gravy.

2008 MLB Playoffs

American League winners: East: Red Sox
Central: White Sox
West: Angels
Wild Card: Rays

Division Series: Red Sox over White Sox in 3; Angels over Rays in 5.
League Championship: Red Sox over Angels in 6.

National League winners: East: Phillies
Central: Cubs
West: Dodgers
Wild Card: Cardinals

Division Series: Cubs over Dodgers in 4; Cardinals over Phillies in 5.
League Championship: Cubs over Cardinals in 7.

World Series: Red Sox over Cubs in 6

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