Handing out the first-half awards

You know all that stuff I just wrote about the NL half-Cy award? Um, here we go again. Until the last couple of days, there was no good way to separate King Felix, Chris Sale and Masahiro Tanaka in this AL half-Cy derby. They've all been outrageously good. Their numbers were almost indistinguishable. And their teams would be floating on life rafts on some remote sea, waiting for the rescue boats, without them. So I found myself thinking: Throw a dart. Play rock, paper, scissors. Bring on the penalty-kick shootout. They all deserve this award. But as great as Sale has been, he's thrown way fewer innings than Felix and Tanaka. So that bumped him down the list. Then Tanaka went out and gave up 10 hits and five runs in Cleveland on Tuesday, before heading for an MRI machine, the disabled list and a long, disheartening confinement in the trainer's room. And that created just enough space between him and Felix that it makes this choice way more clear-cut than it seemed a week ago. Look, I can't tell you how blown away I've been by the brilliance of Tanaka, especially in a year in which he had the weight of two nations (Japan and Yankee) hanging between his shoulder blades. But then there's Felix, whose relentless excellence never ceases to dazzle all of us who can't wait for him to get back to the mound every five days. Ten straight starts of seven innings or more, two runs or fewer? Who does that? Nobody. Well, nobody (within the same season) since Mike Scott in 1986, anyway. Opposing cleanup men are hitting .164 with no homers and a .218 slugging percentage against this guy. Insane. Then there's this: At this rate, the King would finish this season with a WHIP of 0.89, an opponent batting average of .201, and 264 whiffs in 248.1 innings (which comes to 9.57 K/9 IP). And you know how many AL starters in history have ever matched or beaten that WHIP, opponent average and strikeout ratio over that many innings? Correct answer: None. So with all due respect to the great Tanaka, is there any pitcher in this league who is better than Felix Hernandez right now? Nope. Not. A. Soul.

Apologies to: Tanaka, Sale, David Price, Scott Kazmir (and I could easily list 10 more -- but it's a five-man ballot).

NL Cy Yuk: Sergio Romo, Giants

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