Now that we have hit the halfway point of the 2012 MLB season, it’s time to reflect back on what has been a very good 83 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Entering play on Saturday the Bucs sit at 46-37 and hold a one-game lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central Division.
With that being said, it seems like the perfect time to look back on the first half of the season and hand out the Pirates mid-season awards.
MVP: Andrew McCutchen: This was a no-brainer as many publications , including ESPN’s Jayson Stark, have McCutchen as their first half national league MVP. It’s hard to argue with them as he leads the National League in hitting at .360.
In addition to leading the Bucs in batting average, he also leads in: hits (108), home runs (16), RBI (56), OBP (.413), runs (54), triples (five), total bases (183), stolen bases (14), SLG (.610) and OPS (1.023).
I shudder to think where the Bucs would be without Cutch in the lineup.
LVP: Jose Tabata: To say Tabata has been a disappointment would be an understatement. His lack of production and sometimes lack of effort has earned him a demotion to Triple-A and his .230 AVG, 3 HR and 11 RBI has been a sore spot in the Pirates lineup all season long.
Cy Young: James McDonald: J-Mac has been nothing short of outstanding and it is a crime that he’s not heading to the All-Star Game. McDonald has thrown a team-high 103.0 innings and has a nice 8-3 record (before his start Saturday). In addition, his 2.45 ERA is tops among all Pirates starters and he leads the team with 90 strike outs and the league is hitting only .197 against him.
Cy Yuck: Erik Bedard: Bedard was a tough luck starter for most of April and May and has pitched much better than his 4-10 record would suggest he has. But he clearly hasn’t been the same pitcher since injuring his back on May 9 in a start against the Washington Nationals. With the way the rest of the staff has performed, Bedard edges out Kevin Correia for this honor as Correia has thrown well as of late and Bedard has lost four consecutive starts.
Rookie of the Year: Jared Hughes: Hughes has been outstanding coming out of the Bucs bullpen. He’s appeared in 33 games, throwing a total of 43 innings and has a nice 2.09 ERA. He really doesn’t have much competition for this award though.
Best Moment: Drew Sutton’s Walk-Off: Sometimes moments come along that make everyone believe and that’s what Sutton did Tuesday night vs. the Houston Astros, leading the Bucs to a come-from-behind win in a game they had no business winning . Hopefully there will be many more moments like Sutton’s in the second half of the season.
Most Improved Player: Pedro Alvarez: I have been begging people to be patient with Pedro and now it is starting to pay off. Realistically, this is Alvarez’s first full season in the majors and while he’s going to have his ups-and-downs and strike out a ton, if I would have told you that Pedro would have a chance to hit 31 homers and driven in 97 runs, well i’m pretty sure you would have been happy with that.
That’s exactly what Alvarez is on pace to do after finishing the first half with 16 homers and 49 RBI. In addition, that batting average is up to .234 and I will take that. The guy is a run producer and a major reason why the Bucs are where they are at the moment.
Unsung Hero: Jason Grilli: You can make a case that Grilli had an All-Star first half as well. He’s been outstanding filling the eighth inning role. Grilli has struck out 51 batters in 32.2 innings of work and has a 1.93 ERA to show for it. In addition he has a 0.98 WHIP and the league is hitting only .149 against him.
He’s been nothing short of outstanding and edges out Michael McKenry for the award.
In addition, I would like to note the fact that Clint Hurdle is likely the National League Manager of the Year at this point of the season and there should be an award somewhere for A.J. Burnett, who’s presence alone, plus the outstanding work he’s done on the mound has been invaluable to the Pirates success.
Topics: A.J. Burnett, Andrew McCutchen, Clint Hurdle, Drew Sutton, Erik Bedard, James McDonald, Jared Hughes, Jason Grilli, Jose Tabata, Kevin Correia, Michael McKenry, MLB, Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates