With St. Louis opening up the second-half of the season with an impressive 3-2 over the Dodgers last night, it’s time for the much-anticipated First-Half Awards segment where I will give out coveted imaginary awards to Cardinal players.
A couple of editor notes. For those of you who are die-hard fans of the weekly Power Rankings section (Anyone? Anyone?) I decided to just combine the three games against the Dodgers with last week’s games against the Pirates and Brewers. Those power rankings will be coming out on Monday morning. I also would like to give a shout-out to consistent Redbird Rant reader and hard-core Cardinal hater Connor Jeffers who recently just bet me that the Reds would have a better record than the Cardinals by the end of the year. For future information Connor, I like bottled Yuenglings. Now onto the awards!
CY Young: Adam Wainwright
I forgive Adam Wainwright for being the main culprit in the N.L.’s All-Star loss and for allegedly grooving pitchers to Derek Jeter. Hey, he’s just a classy guy or maybe he was trying to prove the absurdity of having the All-Star game be worth so much. Regardless, Wainwright has been not only the Cardinals best pitcher; he may be the best pitcher in baseball. Wainwright is tied for the league in wins with 12, his 1.89 ERA is a healthy amount below any other pitcher (Clayton Kershaw excluded who does not have enough innings pitched to qualify to yet) and hitters are only batting a stupidly low .198 against him. Need we go on? Yes, because Wainwright’s stats just keep on getting better. Minus two starts against the Cubs and Giants, and Wainwright has only allowed 13 runs in 16 starts. In nine of those starts, he’s gone seven innings and allowed zero runs, something no other pitcher in the history of baseball has done in there first 18 starts. It’s safe to say that the Cardinals would not be in the position they are now without the right arm of Wainwright.
The 50-Cent Award: Shelby Miller
Alas, whenever there is a best at something there is always a worst at something. This award is named after the immortal 50-Cent who may have thrown out the worst first pitch in the history of baseball, brought your courtesy here. While St. Louis as a staff has pitched pretty well, Shelby Miller sticks out like a sore thumb. Miller is going through a bit of a sophomore slump as his record sits at a measly 7-8 with a 4.29 ERA. Miller leads the team in a category nobody wants to be a part of, earned runs, as he has given up 52 runs, which is 12 more than any other starter. Miller is also 2-8 in his last ten starts and as a result has been sent down the bullpen until further notice. Miller might not be as bad as 50-Cent, but at least when 50-Cent is on the mound he is unhittable.
MVP: Matt Adams
While this award should admittedly go to Adam Wainwright, for the sake of writing about somebody else lets give to Matt Adams. Before the Brewers series, I saw a ridiculous stat that the Cardinals are 19-2 in games where Adams has an RBI. I’m not sure if that is for the entire season or just post DL, but the fact remains that when Adams drives in runs, the Cardinals have a great chance of winning. Adams is second in the N.L. with a .325 average and is fourth on the team with 41 RBIs. Adams provides a punch to a St. Louis offense that has seen the likes of Allen Craig and Matt Holliday struggle to produce. Adams is also one of the lone Cardinal power hitters this year, aside from Jhonny Peralta. For St. Louis to continue its hunt of the Brewers, the team is going to need the big bat of “Big City.”
LVP: Allen Craig
While everyone saw Allen Craig receiving this award, I’m not sure any of us would predict him to have the season he is having now. After being one of the top hitters in the league in 2013 and 2014, Craig has taken a huge step backward. Craig is hitting a putrid .244 and only has seven dingers on the season. Craig has particularly struggled in situations with runners in scoring position, a stat he led the league in the past two years. I for one am still a believer in Craig; you don’t just go from being one of the best hitters in baseball to terrible overnight and I still believe that he is going to turn it around. Craig also is still third on team with 43 RBIs so it’s not like he has been a total bust. But with Craig now splitting time Oscar Taveras in right field, it is going to be tough for Craig to regain his dominant form of past seasons.
Top Newcomer: Pat Neshek
With Kolten Wong’s recent power surge, I thought about giving this award to him as well as launching an investigation to see if was using PEDs while on the DL. But Pat Neshek has been dominant for St. Louis and has solidified the back-end of the bullpen by being a bridge in the eighth inning for Trevor Rosenthal. After only signing a minor league deal in the spring, Neshek has dominated hitters by posting .69 ERA in 39.1 innings pitched. With that fascinating sidearm delivery that almost looks painful while watching, Neshek has only allowed three runs to cross the plate while pitching for the Birds. Deservedly, Neshek earned a spot in the All-Star game where he almost gave up as many runs has he has on the entire season. Maybe the Cardinals just wanted the challenge of playing at another teams park when they reach the World Series again. With the arrival of Neshek and the steadiness of Rosenthal, it’s hard not to feel good about the Cardinals chances when they take a lead late into ballgames.