2014 MLB 1st-half awards: Bests and worsts at the break

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Trout finally gets his due.

With the first half of the season in the books, we can already see players, and teams, on the rise, and others falling from grace.  Here is a look at the best and worst of the 2014 major league baseball season, so far.

Fangraphs' version of WAR (wins above replacement) is used in this article.

American League:


Most Valuable PlayerMike Trout, Angels, leads the league in WAR, OPS, wOBA, wRC+, and, for you old fashioned types, has 22 homers, 64 RBI, and 10 steals. He even has his team in a playoff spot, so far.

Rookie of the Year: Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox. Batting .287/.338/.631 with a .969 OPS, and is leading the league with 29 home runs. The Cuban first baseman will be a powerful force to be reckoned with for many years to come.

Manager of the Year: Lloyd McLendon, Seattle Mariners has the M's sitting in a playoff spot in his first year back at the helm, ahead of teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Rangers. 

Best Team: The Oakland A’s have baseball's best record, although they were recently swept by the Tigers and have lost some of their lead to the Angels and Mariners, making for a hot second half race in the AL West. (I'm still picking the Tigers to win it the pennant, though).

Best hitter: Mike Trout has the highest wOBA in the league at .425, beating out Victor Martinez's .419. His base running and defense only widen the gap in talent over the rest of the league.

Best defensive player: Alex Gordon, a converted infielder playing left field, has provided the greatest value defensively with 17 defensive runs saved, and a 23.7 UZR. He edges out Oakland's third baseman, Josh Donaldson.

Worst defensive player: Torii Hunter costs his team more runs than any other player, defensively. With a negative-13.0 Defensive Runs Saved, and -12 UZR, the former Gold Glove winner is a mere shadow of his former defensive self.

Worst offensive player
: Billy Butler, as a DH, should be providing more offense, but his fWAR this year has been non existent as he struggles below replacement level (at least until he plays against Detroit).

Best pitcher: Felix Hernandez is 11- 2 with an ERA of 2.12, an FIP of 2.02, and an WAR of 5.3, which equals Trout's output.

Worst pitcher: Erasmo Ramirez of the Mariners has the lowest WAR at -0.4, although almost any starter on the Red Sox or the Rangers not named Darvish would give him a run for this title.

Best relief pitcher: Dellin Betances of the Yankees has made the All Star team, although hasn't been named the closer for his own team yet. He works multiple innings and has a 2.1 WAR as a reliever.

Worst relief pitcher: Four Astros lead the list of the worst, with Anthony Bass from Wayne State University leading the way with an WAR of -0.7.

Best base runner: Jose Altuve of the Astros leads the league in stolen bases and a 5.0 BSR.

Breakout player: J.D. Martinez was picked up by the Tigers after clearing waivers and being released by the Astros. He has hit .346/.380/.654 with an OPS of 1.034, the highest in the league among players with at least 200 plate appearances.

Comeback player: Victor Martinez, the Tigers' DH, missed the entire 2012 season and was slow to regain his form in 2013. The 35-year-old is second only to Trout in wOBA and is among the league's top-five qualified hitters in average, home runs, OBP, and slugging.

National League:


Most Valuable Player:
Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies leads the league in batting and in WAR at 5.2, with 21 homers as a shortstop.

Rookie of the Year:
Billy Hamilton, the speedy outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds, is batting .283/ .315/.419   with a .735 OPS and 38 stolen bases.

Manager of the Year:
Ron Roenicke, the former bench coach for Mike Scioscia in Anaheim, has led the Milwaukee Brewers to the lead in the National League's Central Division.

Best Team:
The Los Angeles Dodgers, after a sluggish start, have made up 9-1/2 games on the Giants to take over the West division lead.

Best hitter:
Tulowitzki's offense, unlike Trout, is all batting, with a .448 wOBA which easily leads the major leagues.

Best defensive player:
Jason Heyward, the Braves' outfielder, leads all his peers with a plus 16.3 defensive rating, while also leading the league in UZR and the majors in DRS with 27 runs saved.

Worst defensive player:
Matt Kemp of the Dodgers hasn't been the same since returning from the disabled list, which is why LA is calling Andre Ethier a center fielder.

Worst offensive player:
Nate Schierholtz of the Chicago Cubs has a slash line of .204    .250    .314 for an OPS of .564 and a wOBA of just .251.

Best starting pitcher:
Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers' ace, is conjuring up comparisons to Sandy Koufax. He is the best pitcher in the game.

Worst starting pitcher:
Marco Estrada of the Milwaukee Brewers has an ERA of 4.98, an FIP of 5.69, and an fWAR that is 0.90 below replacement level.

Best relief pitcher:
Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds edges out the Braves' Craig Kimbrel, with an FIP of 0.65 and a staggering K rate of 17.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

Worst relief pitcher:
Chris Perez of the Dodgers has an WAR of 0.7, an FIP of 5.17, an ERA of 4.54,

Best base runner:
Billy Hamilton of the Reds edges out Dee Gordon of the Dodgers by a slim margin. 

Worst base runner:
Adam LaRoche, the underrated first baseman for the Washington Nationals can hit, but he can't run.

Breakout player:
Dee Gordon managed barely 100 plate appearances in 2013, spending most of the season in the minor leagues. He has found his stroke and is now an All Star.

Comeback player: Johnny Cueto, starting pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, logged just 60 innings in 2013, but has returned to dominance, with a 2.06 ERA in 138 innings.

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