Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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I know a few things will happen in the second half of the baseball season.
The Rockies won't win 21 games in a row, Matt Holliday will be traded, Troy Tulowitzki will not hit above the Mendoza Line, the Yankees will make the playoffs, the Rays will be under .500 by the end of August, the Cubs won't win the World Series (but the Milwaukee Brewers will) and the National League West winner will make the playoffs with a losing record.
My honors for the season's first half and some predictions for post-season awards include:
A.L. first-half MVP - Jermaine Dye
He's quietly having the best season in the American League, on that other team from Chicago. Dye has been a cog in the White Sox lineup and has helped the team to the top of the Central Division. He's hitting .311 with 21 home runs and 58 RBI in one of the most dangerous lineups in the league.
N.L. first-half MVP - Lance Berkman
The big Texan also known as "Big Puma" is on a tear, even if he plays for one of the most pitiful teams in the majors. For one stretch this season, Berkman was impossible to get out. While he's cooled down recently, he's in the top 10 of all the Triple Crown categories. He's on pace for 130 RBI, 40 home runs and 30 stolen bases.
A.L. Rookie of the Year - Evan Longoria
Nobody has come close to Longoria. While the average is only .272, he comes up in big moments. Whether it was the sweep of the Red Sox earlier this year or in the All-Star game at Yankee Stadium, the former Long Beach State player isn't afraid of the big moment. It helps that he has 16 home runs and 53 RBI just after the break.
N.L. Rookie of the Year - Geovany Soto
He's one of the main reasons the Cubs are one of the best teams in baseball. In addition to providing pop to the lineup, he's also caught for one of the best pitching staffs in the game. He's hitting .288 with 16 home runs and 56 RBI.
A.L. Cy Young - Mariano Rivera
Closers usually don't win the award unless they have a lights-out season, and that's what Rivera is doing. He's perfect in save opportunities and has a 1.25 ERA. In save opportunities, his ERA is less than one. If he can help the Yankees make the playoffs, he might make a push for MVP.
N.L. Cy Young - Tim Lincecum
He's just fun to watch pitch. Whether it's his funky delivery or seeing a 5-foot-11, 170-pound dude bringing it near 100 mph, Lincecum is the best show in San Francisco. Plus, he leads the league in strikeouts and has 11 wins on a team with a lineup that's more suited for Triple A ball than the big leagues.