At age 39, Carlos Beltran is on pace for 30-plus homers and 100-plus RBIs and has been the clear Yankees MVP so far this season.
By Andrew Marchand
CLEVELAND — The New York Yankees finished the first half of the season at an appropriately mediocre 44-44. To make the playoffs, they probably need to win 44 more games in the second half. That would mean they can lose only 30. That’s tough to imagine; especially with a schedule that begins with a 10-game homestand against the Red Sox, Orioles and Giants before a trip to Houston.
Nonetheless, after taking three of four from the Cleveland Indians, they are feeling a little better. Let’s take an accounting of the first half and look ahead to the second half as we hand out our first-half awards.
The Babe Ruth Award (MVP): Carlos Beltran is on pace for around a .300 average, 30-plus homers and 100-plus RBIs — and he is doing it at age 39. He has been the most valuable Yankee in this first half. Of the three old guys — Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira being the two others — he is the only one who has really showed up. In this apparent rebuilding year, he has given the Yankees something really valuable — a trade commodity.
The Carl Pavano Award (Least Valuable Player): There are a lot of choices for this one, but Teixeira receives the LVP because out of all the disappointing Yankees he has produced the least value compared with what they needed from him. Out of sync and injured the entire first half, he is the biggest difference between last year’s first half and this year’s. A year ago at this time, he was the Babe Ruth Award winner.
The Derek Jeter Award (biggest jump as a player): Jeter addedanother ring this weekend so we will give him the honor of being part of our awards show. Jeter was known for his signature jump throw from the hole, while this designation goes to the player who has made the biggest jump in his game.
It is none other than Jeter’s replacement, Sir Didi Gregorius. We wrote nice things about Didi this weekend.
The Whitey Ford Award (best pitcher): This is easily Andrew Miller, who has been amazing this year. First off, he made it comfortable for the organization by stepping aside from the closer role to welcome inAroldis Chapman. Other guys would not have handled it as well. Then, he has pitched to a 1.37 ERA in 39 1/3 innings. He has struck out 69, which means more than half of his outs have come on Ks.
The Bernie Williams Award (most underappreciated): Chase Headley gets this one. Headley might have been the worst player in baseball the first month. In 19 games in April, he had a .418 OPS. In May, his OPS was .795. In June, it was .766. So far in July, it has been in the .900 range.
Headley has not been great overall, because that first month was so horrendous. However, he has been a pretty good player for three of the four months of the season, which should make it so he is not one of the faces of the Yankees’ failures.
Runners-up: Rob Refsnyder, Sabathia
The Steve Donohue Award (most important to stay healthy):Named for the Yankees’ trainer, this award goes to the player who must stay healthy. The easy answer is “All of the above,” but we’ll go with Beltran because he can’t get hurt if the Yankees are going to contend and, more importantly in our opinion, because of his trade value.
The A-Rod Award (most intriguing player): It has to go to A-Rod, because even though one of the great players in the game’s history is a bench-warmer, it will be interesting to see how this story ends. A-Rod is vowing that he is not done and his time will come. He didn’t start nine of the last 10 games before the break. It is pretty hard to make an impact when you don’t get in the game.
Also, how can the Yankees justify keeping Rodriguez on the roster if he doesn’t field and now is basically not allowed to try to hit? He is owed $30 million through the end of next year.