Stripling / Muncy dominate “first-half” awards
It is strange to call something the first half when ninety-six games have already been played and only sixty-six games remain in the “second half” but that is what MLB has decided is our season.
With that in mind, the Dodgers needed all ninety plus games in the first half to climb into first place just before the All-Star break.
The Dodgers are in first place for none of the reasons you would have expected.
- Corey Seager was only in twenty-six games with mediocre production before going down for the season.
- They got nominal production from Clayton Kershaw who only threw seventy-five innings in thirteen starts and got three wins.
- Justin Turner has only played in forty-eight of the ninety-six games and when he has played he’s been the worst hitter in the lineup on the days that Logan Forsythe is on the bench.
That is three MVP caliber players who just haven’t come close to their historical production levels.
All that got evened out by Ross Stripling, Walker Buehler, Joc Pederson, and Max Muncy who own the Dodgers top awards for the first half.
Best First Half Pitcher – Ross Stripling, with Kenta Maeda giving him a little competition. Using fWAR or ERA or skilled metrics, Ross wins this hands down.
Best First Half Position Player: Max Muncy who has become invaluable to this team with his ability to play 1st, 2nd, and 3rd base. The other four Bellinger, Grandal, Taylor, and Kemp are fairly close together in fWAR but Kemp clearly dominates the quartet in the offensive metrics with his .370 wOBA and 137 wRC+.
First Half Rookie of the Year: Clearly Walker Buehler who was a huge boost to the rotation when they needed it most.
First Half Suprise – Non Max Muncy/Ross Stripling edition:
I’m going to go with Joc Pederson here even though Matt Kemp and Kiké Hernandez have a good case. There are surprises associated with Matt Kemp. Making the team given the salary implications, his attitude, his physical condition, but hitting, not a surprise to me.
So to explain this further. I thought Kiké could hit and field like he has done so not a complete surprise to me. I thought Matt Kemp could still hit, maybe not at this level for this long but I did still think he could hit.
Joc Pederson, on the other hand, I had basically given up on by the end of April and felt that Alex Verdugo might be a better option. That is why he’s my surprise pick because what he has done has shocked me even though he has had streaks before, I never expected this streak from his this year.
In the middle of April Joc was fighting for a spot on the roster. The Dodgers best position prospect seemed like a better option since they were both left-handed outfielders and one was tearing up AAA, and the other was struggling with an OPS of .535. Joc started hitting just enough to stay relevant on the major league roster and by the end of May owned an OPS of .718. Not great, but he was showing signs of life. Those signs of life exploded on June 2nd and Joc was the best hitter in baseball for the month of June with a wRC+ of 219 beating out his teammate Max Muncy. Joc has slowed in July but you can only burn like a shooting star for so long. Joc has always been a streaky hitter but he’s never had a month like he had this past June.
First Half Disappointment – Logan Forsythe has been a disappointment ever since he joined the team in the spring of 2017 but never more so than this year. Last year he could point to injuries, but this year, he simply can’t hit. For one brief moment last October Logan shined as a Dodger like someone who was just detailed but for most of his Dodger career, he has been as dull as a twenty-year-old paint job. At this point, he has lost his job to Max Muncy against RHP and is on the verge of losing his job completely. If the Dodgers do trade for any infield help (Machado, Scooter, Dozier) it will be Logan who loses his spot. Given he is making $9 Million his performance has hurt the organization because he makes it harder to stay under the competitive salary tax while trying to improve the team.