1. Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals. The guy is flirting with the triple crown and is almost putting himself in the “walk him every time he’s up” category. Pujols has 4 grand slams so far this season and 10 in his career, both Cardinals records. To put it mildly, Pujols is a monster.
2. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers. Unfortunately for fielder he’s not the best first basemen in his division and may not even be in the top 2 (Lance Berkman) but he has returned to his form of two years ago with 22 HR and 76 RBI while still carrying a .313 average. This could also go Fielders’ teammate, Ryan Braun.
3. Brad Hawpe, Colorado Rockies. Hawpe had a breakout season in 2007 and is repeating his number from then but has raised is batting average 35 points from that season. Hawpe has been a huge part of the Rockies 30 game tear and he should help keep them in contention all season
1. Dan Haren, Arizona Diamondbacks. He doesn’t have the best record in the NL but he has a 2.16 ERA and is the hard luck loser in nearly every loss. He’s averaging a strikeout per inning which is slightly ahead of his career average and should set a career high in strikeouts this year.
2. Tim Lincecum, San Franciso Giants. Lincecum started off slow but has roared back into Cy Young contention with a 23 inning scoreless streak. He’s 9-2 with a minuscule 2.23 ERA and is averaging more than a strikeout per inning with 141.
3. Javier Vazquez, Atlanta Braves.
This may be a surprise to some people but Vaquez has been stellar in the first half, leading the league in strikeouts and an ERA just above 3. If the Braves are seriously considering trading Vazquez like reported they are out of their minds.
Rookie of the Year
1. Tommy Hanson, Altanta Braves. He’s started off 4-0 and would be 5-0 if not for Mike Gonzalez forgetting his role in his previous closing opportunity. Hanson has a 23 innings scoreless streak already this season and looks like he will be the real deal.
2. Casey McGehee, Milwaukee Brewers. Has filled in exceptionally for the injured Rickie Weeks, with a .343 average in 47 games thus far.
3. Colby Rasmus, St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals have been ravaged by injuries and Rasmus has been a stabilizing force in the OF.
Manager of the Year
1. Joe Torre, Los Angeles Dodgers. The team didn’t implode after the Manny Ramirez saga, that alone should get him the award. Leading the NL in wins helps quite a bit too.
2. Tony La Russa, St. Louis Cardinals. Even though the Cardinals have only one proven bat in their lineup and have been decimated by injuries, they’re still in the thick of things.
3. Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants. Has done an exceptional job with a much less talented roster than Torre.