I say this every year, but only because the thought dominates my brain for 72 hours each July: I hate the All-Star break. Two days with no games sandwiched around an exhibition contest. Yuck.

Anyway, here are my midseason awards ballots, which missed the deadline to be included in the BP staff balloting by a hair or dozen. If you’re new to this column, welcome to my biases: I favor performance at up-the-middle positions, and I try to strip what a player has done from the context in which he did it as much as I can.


  1. Bret Boone
  2. Carlos Delgado
  3. Nomar Garciaparra
  4. Melvin Mora
  5. Esteban Loaiza
  6. Alex Rodriguez
  7. Manny Ramirez
  8. Brendan Donnelly
  9. Alfonso Soriano
  10. Milton Bradley

I’m certain that the top two players are the top two in the league, and fairly confident in my choices for the #3 and #4 positions. After that, you can take the six I’ve listed here, and a dozen other guys like Edgar Martinez, Ichiro Suzuki, Tim Hudson, Vernon Wells, Jorge Posada and Jason Varitek, and throw them in a pile. Down-ballot MVP voting is never easy, and it’s more difficult when you’re doing it after just a half-season of performance.

Loaiza has truly been amazing, worth just shy of five wins in the White Sox first 94 games, which is a huge number. He stands out from the crowd of position players having good years. I can see the arguments against listing Donnelly, but he’s allowed three runs all season long, generally protecting small leads in the eighth inning. The leverage of his innings is probably higher than any other pitcher in the game, and I had a hard time listing him even that far down.


  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Albert Pujols
  3. Jim Edmonds
  4. Gary Sheffield
  5. Edgar Renteria
  6. Javy Lopez
  7. Jose Vidro
  8. Mike Lowell
  9. Scott Rolen
  10. Rafael Furcal

With all due respect to Pujols, who has been great in the first half, let’s look at what just happened: he had an absolute monster three months, at the end of which, he wasn’t as good as Barry Bonds in Bonds’ off-year. Having been ordained the front-runner by the media, Pujols will have to lose the award on the field, which sets up the likelihood that Bonds will be robbed of awards 12 years apart.

The rest of this ballot was easier to construct, given the agreement of EqA and VORP on most of these guys. That the Cardinals are even in a race is astounding given that they have four of the nine best players in the league. If Walt Jocketty gets them any help, the Cards will run away in the second half.

AL Cy Young

  1. Esteban Loaiza
  2. Brendan Donnelly
  3. Tim Hudson
  4. Mark Mulder
  5. Pedro Martinez

Hudson and Mulder are a wash; consider my vote a nod to the hard luck in which Hudson has pitched all year, and the likelihood that major media will look at the W column and think there’s a big difference between the two. I fully expect that some Oakland Athletic will win the Cy Young Award this year, and who does will have as much to do with Miguel Tejada and Keith Foulke as with the pitchers themselves.

NL Cy Young

  1. Jason Schmidt
  2. Kevin Brown
  3. Brandon Webb
  4. Kerry Wood
  5. John Smoltz

It’s not an exciting group, as evidenced by the fact that two guys with less than 100 innings show up in the top five. Smoltz is the most likely of these pitchers to win the actual award because Brown and Schmidt will miss time to injuries, and Webb is going to regress some. Wood’s control problems and lousy run support mean that he is unlikely to have the wins necessary to stand out.

AL Rookie of the Year

  1. Hideki Matsui
  2. Angel Berroa
  3. Rocco Baldelli

I really hate empty batting averages, but I can’t find a way to squeeze Mark Teixeira onto the ballot ahead of Baldelli, who has a significant edge in defensive value. I think by the end of the year, though, Tex will be the best or second-best rookie–behind Matsui–in the league. Berroa has quietly had one heck of a season, and if Matsui hadn’t played so much center field, I might have made Berroa my choice.

NL Rookie of the Year

  1. Brandon Webb
  2. Dontrelle Willis
  3. Jae Weong Seo

Hee Seop Choi‘s injury, suffered in a collision with Kerry Wood, cost him three weeks of playing time. Dusty Baker’s old-people fetish is costing him a lot more, and is what gets Seo onto the list. Willis has more and better press, but Webb has been the better pitcher, and tremendously important in the Diamondbacks’ run to contention.

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