Of course he's not a rookie, either was Ichiro (who won) or Hideki(came close). So you think that when the team that I rooted for as a kid gets a player from the Japanese Leagues that he's not going to get my vote? Please! Yes Japanese players according to Hoyle should not be considered rookies, the caliber of competition they face over there is far superior to the USA's minor leagues or college counterparts. But since there is no rule against it, even though I realize it is wrong that this loophole exists, I will exploit it !! "Dice-K" has been as good as advertised, 10-6 with a strikeout to walk ratio of 123-38, and allowing only 51 runs in over 118 innings. Showed some shakiness at the end of May beginning of June, but seemed to have bounced back before facing the Red-Hot Tigers in his last start.
A.L. MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Eric Wedge Cleveland Indians
If John Wayne was ever a MLB manager he would have been Eric Wedge. When Cleveland Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro first started talking about then Triple A Buffalo Bisons manager Eric Wedge in the fall of 2002 when he was a candidate for the parent club's vacant field boss job, the words dynamic and intense came up a lot. Those words still apply. Wedge can say more with a glare or a raised eyebrow than most people could say in a 10 minute monologue. He treats people as individuals, yet realizes, no part is greater than the whole. The word TEAM means a lot to Eric Wedge, a philosophy he has stressed since day one. That is why the Cleveland Indians this year are playing better than the sum of their collective parts. Because of Wedge's team concept.
A.L. Division Leaders And Wild Card
Boston fell back to earth just before the break being swept by the suddenly Red-Hot Detroit Tigers. But unless they have a total collapse, in the second half they should be able to maintain what is now a double digit lead against all division foes. Los Angeles has had a very nice first half, the question is how will their only real competition so far this year Seattle deal with the loss of Mike Hargrove. In the Central it looks like you have the only real race, with Detroit currently ahead at the break over Cleveland by one game. However Cleveland has spent more time in first place in the Central than any other team, this division like last year will probably contain the eventual Wild Card team, either Detroit or the Indians. DARK HORSE: The New York Yankees. Yes I know they are seemingly out of it, with an ancient starting pitching staff except for Wang, and a bullpen that looks like it is popping rivets with every game they play. But it's the Yankees. I have seen too many journeyman pitchers go to the Bronx in seasons past and watch them turn into Ron Guidry for two months. The fixes never last for long ie; Bobby Abreu but they don't have to in Yankeeland it's all about today, who cares about tomorrow. As long as King George is still calling the shots, I learned long ago don't ever count the Yankees out!
Prince Fielder Milwaukee Brewers
No controversy here, best player on a story book team. This young man had huge expectations hoisted upon him before he was even drafted, almost unheard of in Baseball where the prospects usually do not have the cache of their counterparts, in the NBA, the NFL. or even the NHL. But Fielder because of his father former MLB slugger Cecil, had a reputation, he was a known quantity. And Fielder has lived up to all the hype and more! Leading the league with 29 homers and a .620 slugging percentage. Second in the league in RBI with 70 and fifth in the league in runs scored with 62. Young Mr. Fielder, "Welcome to the world of gentlemen."
N.L. CY YOUNG WINNER
Jake Peavey San Diego Padres
Probably my most difficult choice, I debated between Peavey and the Dodgers Brad Penny for hours before finally settling on Peavey. Penny with a 10-1 record and a 2.39 ERA, was a very tempting choice over Peavey at 9-3 with a 2.19 ERA. But when in doubt, you go to the scoreboard. Yes, if the season ended today both teams would be in the playoffs, but San Diego would win the division. Decision; Peavey.
Hunter Pence Houston Astros
N.L. ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
You may be sitting in font of your screen right now saying who? This young man is for real, and he is good! People in Baseball knew this guy was going to be special, just not this soon. He didn't even start the season in the Bigs! But this young man with the humble demeanor, and All American Boy looks and personality have made him a hero in Houston, as well as Arlington,Texas where he hails from. All he is doing is leading the National League in batting average, and playing stellar defense in centerfield for the Astros. This young man is getting known in a hurry and so far it's all positive.
N.L. Manager Of The YEAR
Ned Yost Milwaukee Brewers
He's got the Milwaukee Brewers in first place in the National League Central at the All-Star break! With a 4.5 game lead over second place Chicago! He's got second best winning percentage in the National League! With the Milwaukee Freakin Brewers! They haven't contended since the Coolidge Administration (I am actually exaggerating a bit they only came into existence in 1970). Not only should this man win N.L. Manager Of The Year, they should make him mayor!
N.L. Division Leaders And Wild Card
A lot more volatility in this league than in the American League, with basically all three divisions really all within reach of teams that are further down in the standings. The Mets, have at times looked like they were on the verge of running away with it, only to slip back to the pack. In the West San Diego, and the Dodgers can feel the breath on the back of their necks, not only from the D-Backs, but the Rockies are still alive. Probably the team that looks the safest at the present time is Milwaukee, who is an unproven group, who have basically taken advantage of the fact that the three teams most experts picked to contend the Cardinals, Astros, and the Reds, have come no where near to what people's expectations were. It definitely could go down to the wire in all three divisions. DARK HORSE: Atlanta Braves, certainly within reach of the Mets and the Wild Card spot. And Andrew Jones can't have as bad a second half as he did in the first, can he?
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