Bautista, Reyes are first-half MVPs
Should a player whose team doesn't win its division or get to the postseason be voted the MVP Award?
The ages-old debate among baseball writers, who ultimately make the selections, has raged for years.
Historically, players who've had super years for losing teams haven't been chosen. Their team's success or lack of it often dictates their fate in voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
I believe there's merit to the belief that to be MVP, your team won.
On the other hand, how can you ignore outstanding seasons?
That's why if 2011 were to end today, my choices for MVP would be New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes in the National League and Toronto third baseman Jose Bautista in the American League.
It will be an upset if either the Mets or the Blue Jays make it to the postseason. The flip side of that is where would either of these teams be without Reyes and Bautista?
Reyes is currently on the disabled list, but had he not been on such a tear before being injured, the Mets would not have been able to climb above .500 after such a dreadful start.
Reyes, who can be a free agent after the season, leads the NL with a .354 batting average, in runs (65) and is second in stolen bases (30).
Bautista is a home run machine. He leads the Major Leagues (through Thursday's games) with 29 homers and is second in runs (69) and batting average (.333) in the AL.
There should be little debate about the two MVP choices for the first half.
I believe the Brewers' Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun, the Cardinals' Lance Berkman and the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen should be in the NL mix.
AL contenders are Boston's Adrian Gonzalez, the Yankees' Curtis Granderson and the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera.
The other major awards:
NL Cy Young: This is going to be close. The Phillies' Roy Halladay won it in 2010 and is my choice this year. He entered Friday night's game with an 11-3 record, a 2.44 earned run average and six complete games. There's some hesitation to jump completely on the Halladay bandwagon because the Braves' Jair Jurrjens has been almost as good. Jurrjens leads the NL with 12 wins and is tops with a 1.87 ERA. And don't count out Halladay teammate Cole Hamels.
AL Cy Young: I like the Yankees' CC Sabathia, who also has 12 wins, but the Tigers' Justin Verlander has a no-hitter, two two-hitters and a 14-strikeout game. The Angels' Jered Weaver and Tampa Bay's James Shields should also be considered.
NL Rookie: This is a slam dunk. How can Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel not get it? He has 27 saves and makes the Braves' bullpen one of their strong points as they try to catch the Phillies. He's striking out almost 15 batters per nine innings. The Braves also have first baseman Freddie Freeman, who has 13 homers and has driven in 45 runs. Braves starter Brandon Beachy should also be considered.
AL Rookie: Seattle pitcher Michael Pineda. He's 8-5 with a 2.58 ERA on a struggling team. Prospect Dustin Ackley, recently called up to the Majors, has already hit three homers and is batting just under .300. He'll be considered.
NL Manager: The Pittsburgh Pirates haven't had a winning season for eons, but they're in the NL Central hunt this year thanks to Clint Hurdle. He's an easy choice at the halfway mark, but don't count out the St. Louis Cardinals' Tony La Russa, who's kept the Cardinals in or close to first place despite injuries to some of their key players. Kirk Gibson has done a fine first-half job with Arizona.
AL Manager: Cleveland's Manny Acta has helped the Indians be one of the surprise teams of 2011. They're young and many people thought their amazing start was an aberration, but even after they had a dry spell, they rebounded and show no signs of not contending in the second half. Don't count out Detroit's Jim Leyland.
The great thing about baseball is the credibility of its 162-game schedule, a six-month marathon.
When it's all over and the "official" award winners are announced, it will be interesting to see how these first-half leaders stood up.
Or whether or not my face will be red.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.