The first half of the Major League Baseball season is just about in the books, and it’s time to hand out some awards.
Major League Baseball uses a very loose definition of “half” when it comes to breaking its season into a first and second half. The All-Star Game marks the “halfway” point in the league’s eyes, but by that point, most teams will have played over 90 of their 162 regular-season games. Truthfully, the league went past the halfway point of the 2019 season last week, making it as good a time as any to pass out awards for the best first-half performances of the year.
Once again, baseball is seeing an offensive explosion. Nearly half the league is averaging more than five runs per game after only four teams topped that mark last year. Home runs are up close to 20 percent from last season, and the league is on track to shatter its record for most overall home runs hit in a single season. The current record is 6,105, set in 2017. If the current trends hold, the league will crank over 6,600 balls out of the park this season.
The wild offensive numbers make for a fun time selecting award winners. The very best offensive performers are putting up numbers that match up well with the best seasons in MLB history. The environment also makes the impressive pitching performances of the Cy Young contenders that much more impressive.
While the league has a few more days until it’s officially ready to bring the first half to an end, there’s more than enough information for us to hand out our own set of awards for the best performances across the league.
American League MVP: Mike Trout
This is about as obvious as award selections get. Mike Trout is the clear-cut American League MVP for the first half of this season. The greatest player of his generation has somehow managed to take his game to an even higher level in 2019.
Barring an injury or another AL hitter turning into Steroid Era Barry Bonds for the season’s final three months, Trout will finally win his third MVP award. Missing a few months in each of the past two seasons has kept him from taking home the hardware since 2016, but he was still the best player in the league in 2017 and 2018.
Trout is hitting .297/.452/.606 with 22 home runs and 57 RBI through 81 games. He leads the AL in OPS and OPS+ and the major leagues in walks and on-base percentage. Trout has also walked more frequently than he has struck out. There’s no denying Trout is the MVP of the American League to this point of the season despite his team’s place out of the playoff picture yet again.