Josh Hamilton : Texas Rangers
Stats: .312 BA 21 HR 93 RBI .368 OBP .558 SLG .926 OPS 6 for 6 on Stolen Bases
While Hamilton plays for a team that isn't necessarily great, he has been a big part of why the Texas Rangers are above .500 right now. 4 games above .500 to be exact. Still in striking distance, the Rangers have relied heavily on the bat of Josh Hamilton. He, and Milton Bradley, have been two of the better offensive players in the entire league. While Hamilton does strike out a little more than some people may want, he hits for great power and he drives runners in. If he continues to play like this, we could very well see him get 170 RBIs this year.
Hamilton has been a great addition for the Rangers.
Chase Utley : Philadelphia Phillies
Stats: .292 BA 25 HR 69 RBI .373 OBP .586 SLG .960 OPS 10 for 10 on SB
The Phillies have been hanging tough this year, especially without Jimmy Rollins for a little while early in the year. Now, they are ahead of the fighting Florida Marlins and New York Mets. Another MVP title may be coming to Philly as well. Chase Utley has been a huge reason why the "Phiting Phils" have been so good. He stepped in while the reigning MVP from last year, Rollins, was out. Utley has slowed a little bit, but has remained patient and still has been hitting for great power. While he hasn't driven as many runs as people like Hamilton, he still has 69 RBIs and is well on pace to be around 125 for the season's end.
Chase Utley has helped the Phils get into first place in the NL East
AL Cy Young:
Justin Duchscherer : Oakland Athletics
Stats: 10-5 1.78 ERA 63 Ks 21 BBs .86 WHIP .186 BAA
While Cliff Lee exploded onto the scene early in the year for the Indians, Cleveland has fallen well out of the race and have determined that their time is up. With C.C. Sabathia being traded, Cleveland looks out of it. In the meantime, Justin Duchscherer of the Oakland A's has quietly turned himself into a formidable starter in Oakland's rotation. He has done it all in his career. He's been a middle reliever, setup man, even has 14 career saves, and now is doing it as a starter. While Duchscherer doesn't K as much as the next guy, he still has good stuff and doesn't allow too many base runners. With Oakland still well in it (despite the Rich Harden trade), Duchscherer may become a centerpiece that the A's can build around for the upcoming years.
Duchscherer has become Oakland's ace.
NL Cy Young:
Ben Sheets : Milwaukee Brewers
Stats: 10-3 2.85 ERA 108 Ks 28 BBs 1.11 WHIP .235 BAA
While there have been more dominant pitchers in the National League (Edinson Volquez and Tim Lincecum namely), neither pitches with more pressure than Sheets. With the Brew Crew trying to bring this team to the playoffs for the first time in a quarter century, Sheets has been the dominant ace that he's always been. There's something different though...he's staying very healthy AND he's playing on a winning team. His most complete seasons have come when the Brewers weren't all that great and his other seasons have been injury filled and many DL trips. Sheets, and newly acquired Sabathia, have a great chance of bringing this team to the playoffs this year, ending their drought.
Can Sheets lead the Brew Crew to the playoffs?
AL Rookie of the Year:
Evan Longoria : Tampa Bay Rays
Stats: .280 BA 16 HR 53 RBI .352 OBP .523 SLG .875 OPS 6 for 6 on SB
Ever since being called up to be the Rays' third baseman, Evan Longoria has stepped up and helped turn this once sad state of a team to a bright, young, possible World Series contender. Even though he wasn't with Tampa Bay for the first 10 or so games of the year, Longoria has done enough to be a front runner for the AL ROY and has made his first All-Star team. Can he lead the Rays to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history?
Longoria has a bright future ahead of him.
NL Rookie of the Year:
Geovany Soto : Chicago Cubs
Stats: .286 BA 16 HR 55 RBI .367 OBP .521 SLG .888 OPS
Another rookie who made the All-Star team in his first complete year, Geovany Soto has raised many eyebrows with his power. While having an explosive start to the season, Soto has balanced out a little and is still hitting .286. Soto is the first rookie catcher to start for the NL All-Star team and many more All-Star games may be ahead of him. This kid has been impressive and is quite possibly the Cubs' catcher of the future.
Can Soto keep up his great 1st half?
AL Manager of the Year:
Ron Gardenhire : Minnesota Twins
Twins in 2nd place in AL Central 53-41 1 GB of Chicago White Sox
Especially after the trade of Johan Santana, not very many people expected the Twins to play the way they have. Their key? Young pitching and fundamental baseball. Watch out for this team and a late season push led by pitchers like Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker, and Nick Blackburn.
Will the Twins make the playoffs?
NL Manager of the Year:
Tony LaRussa : St. Louis Cardinals
Cardinals in 2nd place in NL Central 52-42 5 GB of Chicago Cubs
Through all of the injuries the Cardinals have endured ( Mark Mulder, Chris Carpenter, Albert Pujols), LaRussa has managed to turn this team into a team of contenders. With the help of pitching coach Dave Duncan, LaRussa has turned Kyle Lohse and Todd Wellemeyer into formidable starters. While I don't believe St. Louis will keep it up, this scrappy team surely won't give up. Tony LaRussa is definitely manager of the year if he can lead St. Louis to the playoffs through the likes of Milwaukee and Chicago, both of which added an ace each to their respective rotations.
Cardinals' never give up attitude is what has made LaRussa look so good.
Final MLB Standings predictions:
AL East W-L GB
Boston Red Sox 96-66 _
Tampa Bay Rays 94-68 2
New York Yankees 88-74 8
Toronto Blue Jays 80-82 16
Baltimore Orioles 77-85 19
AL Central W-L GB
Chicago White Sox 89-73 _
Detroit Tigers 87-75 2
Minnesota Twins 82-80 7
Cleveland Indians 75-87 14
Kansas City Royals 70-92 19
AL West W-L GB
Los Angeles Angels 95-67 _
Oakland Athletics 85-77 10
Texas Rangers 79-83 16
Seattle Mariners 60-102 35
AL Wild Card W-L GB
Tampa Bay Rays 94-68 _
New York Yankees 88-74 6
Detroit Tigers 86-76 8
Oakland Athletics 85-77 9
NL East W-L GB
New York Mets 92-70 _
Philadelphia Phillies 88-74 4
Atlanta Braves 81-81 11
Florida Marlins 80-82 12
Washington Nationals 59-103 33
NL Central W-L GB
Chicago Cubs 99-63 _
Milwaukee Brewers 92-70 7
St. Louis Cardinals 87-75 12
Pittsburgh Pirates 76-86 23
Houston Astros 73-89 26
Cincinnati Reds 70-92 29
NL West W-L GB
Los Angeles Dodgers 82-80 _
Arizona Diamondbacks 80-82 2
Colorado Rockies 76-86 6
San Francisco Giants 73-89 9
San Diego Padres 64-98 18
NL Wild Card W-L GB
Milwaukee Brewers 92-70 _
Philadelphia Phillies 88-74 4
St. Louis Cardinals 87-75 5
Atlanta Braves 81-81 11
I apologize for the unevenness.