Well, here we are, halfway through another magical baseball season. And we know what you're thinking:
Does Clayton Kershaw serve more doughnuts than Krispy Kreme?
Does Giancarlo Stanton launch more rockets than NASA?
Would people in, say, Kansas recognize a single member of the best team in baseball, the Oakland A's, if they all sat next to them at a breakfast buffet?
Well, we won't be answering any of those questions in this sparkling column, which we know you all look forward to so much. But we will be handing out our annual midseason awards, honoring the good, the bad and the ugly of a fascinating half-season. So ... the envelopes please:
I can't tell you how close I came to presenting this prestigious half-trophy to Andrew McCutchen, a guy you'd feel good about including in any MVP discussion in just about any season. And there's an excellent case to be made for Troy Tulowitzki, although his crazy home/road splits (.433/.514/.767/1.281 home versus .265/.367/.463/.830 road) represent a mile-high counterargument I wish I didn't have to consider. But this, to me, is the Year of Giancarlo. Or at least the Half-Year of Giancarlo. "It started from day one of spring training," said his GM, Dan Jennings. "It felt like he came in and said, 'OK boys, it's my club, and I'm going to lead by example.' And he's done that, on both sides of the ball." No kidding. Here's the onslaught Stanton has inflicted since: seven home runs of 440 feet-plus; three of 460 feet-plus; 10 of 420-plus. Ridiculous. He leads the league in home runs (21), home run ratio (one every 16.2 at-bats), most homers with runners on base (13), RBIs (63) and a couple of our sabermetric favorites -- secondary average and win probability added. The wins above replacement calculators tell us that he and Tulo are the only five-win position players in the league. And you name the significant offensive category, you're pretty much guaranteed to find Stanton ranked in the top five. He's even swiped eight bases without being thrown out, putting him in position to become the first player since caught-stealing became an official stat to hit 35 homers and steal at least a dozen bases in a season without being caught. And he's done all this in a season in which he not only leads the league in intentional walks (15) but has drawn almost twice as many as anyone else. "I know it sounds like I'm being a homer," Jennings said, "but he ought to be the MVP, the starting right fielder in the All-Star Game, and he should win a Gold Glove." Well, I can't control most of that. But I can give this guy an MVP of the half-year award anyway. And that'll have to do.