News & Notes

After the First Half, Rangers' Kinsler, Cardinals' Pujols Are Second to None

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Among our more inspired preseason predictions in this space were Justin Verlander winning the AL Cy Young (he's 6-9) and the Mariners (36-57 through Friday) winning the AL West. (In truth, those were mistakes on the part of our editor, because we're fairly certain we picked Justin Duchscherer, not Verlander, and the Angels over the Mariners.) But here's our chance for a mulligan -- our first-half awards:

AL MVP: Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers. We still like our preseason pick of A-Rod, who missed three weeks because of injury but will have the numbers by the time the season's over. In the meantime, Kinsler gets the nod for his .934 OPS and 23 steals in 24 attempts.

NL MVP: Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals. Chipper Jones and Lance Berkman are having better years, but we're passing them over because they're doing it for bad teams. Pujols (1.079 OPS) remains the most dangerous hitter in the league.

AL CY YOUNG: Duchscherer, Athletics. 10-5, 1.78 ERA, .186 opponents' batting average in his first year as a starter. Wow. We'll take that over Cliff Lee's 12-2, 2.31 and .234 any day.

NL CY YOUNG: Edinson Vólquez, Reds. The strikeout machine gets the nod in a close call over the Giants' Tim Lincecum, although there is no pitcher in baseball who's more fun to watch than the latter.

AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays. Unless Joba Chamberlain reels off about 10 wins in the second half, it's Longoria's to lose.

NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Geovany Soto, C, Cubs. He's leading all rookies in almost every offensive category, and doing it for a first-place team, at a premium position.

AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Ozzie Guillén, White Sox. Tampa Bay's Joe Maddon will be a popular pick, but he actually has better players than Guillén, who somehow has his flawed team in first place.

NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Fredi González, Marlins. A terrific manager -- and a ton of home runs -- can camouflage a lot of other problems. The Cardinals' Tony La Russa would be our runner-up.

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