Votto, Hamilton slam dunks as first-half MVPs
With the season's halfway mark in sight seldom have there been such overwhelming favorites to win MVP honors in each league.
At this stage Cincinnati's Joey Votto and the Rangers' Josh Hamilton are slam dunks in the NL and AL, respectively.
As I scan the leaders in each league it's impossible for me to pick anyone else for these coveted awards. At least by the All-Star Game break.
Votto, who won the NL MVP in 2010, is a huge reason the Reds are clinging to first place in the Central Division.
Hamilton, despite injuries, is having a monster season and is the face of the Rangers who have the best record in the Major Leagues.
Votto, with 14 homers and 47 RBIs, leads the Majors with a .653 slugging average and a .484 on-base percentage.
Joey's .359 batting average is second by a point to the Mets' David Wright.
That brings us to Wright. It says here he is No. 2 to Votto for the MVP. His eight homers and 41 RBIs have helped make the Mets one of the most surprising stories of 2012.
Carlos Beltran, who leads the NL in RBIs with 56 and is tied with 2011 MVP Ryan Braun in homers with 20, has made a strong comeback this season with the Cardinals. He's certainly in the MVP picture as well.
Like Votto, Hamilton won the MVP for his league in 2010. It's difficult to see anyone overtaking him this season. Seldom has a five-tool player shown so much consistency. Simply put, he's the best player in Major League Baseball. All of this will greatly increase his value as a free agent in November.
Hamilton's 64 RBIs leads the Major Leagues. He's batting .319, has 22 home runs and a .646 slugging percentage, which is first in the AL.
Unless slowed by injuries, he should run away with the award.
Paul Konerko of the surprising White Sox is a threat and my No. 2 choice. He leads the AL with a .342 average, has driven in 39 runs and hit 13 homers. His .417 on-base percentage is best in the American League.
The Tigers' Miguel Cabrera and the Orioles' Adam Jones are also high on my list.
The other major awards:
NL CY YOUNG -- The Mets' R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball have had batters talking to themselves all summer. It's also helped him to an 11-1 record and a 2.31 earned run average. He's the leading candidate for the NL Cy Young.
He has 106 strikeouts and a 0.91 WHIP, not to mention becoming the first pitcher in 24 years to pitch back-to-back one-hitters. On Sunday the Yankees ended his string of 44 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run.
Matt Cain, who recently threw the first perfect game in Giants' franchise history, is 8-0 in his last nine starts. He's 9-2 with a 2.27 ERA and is second to Dickey here. The Phillies' Cole Hamels is in the mix as well, and my sleeper for the award come November is Washington's Stephen Strasburg. He's 9-1, with a 2.46 ERA, and his 110 strikeouts lead the National League.
AL CY YOUNG -- How can it not be the Tigers' Justin Verlander as the halfway mark approaches? His team is struggling, but he hasn't skipped a beat from 2011 when he was both the AL MVP and unanimous winner of the Cy Young.
Those who think the Rays' David Price (10-4, 2.95 ERA), the Angels' C. J. Wilson (8-4, 2.44) or the White Sox Chris Sale (8-2, 2.24) should be higher than Verlander are wrong. Justin has gotten shoddy run support from the Tigers, but has compiled an 8-4 record, with a 2.52 ERA. His 117 2/3 innings are the most in the Majors. He has four complete games.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR -- Another debate, but it has to be the Nationals' Bryce Harper. The 19-year-old outfielder has been even better than his buildup -- batting .286 with seven homers and 20 RBIs -- one of many reasons Washington leads the NL East.
There's a strong argument for Arizona's Wade Miley, whose 2.19 ERA is third best in the NL. He's won nine of 12 decisions. Also to be considered is Mets' outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who's batting .281 with seven homers and 25 RBIs.
AL ROOKIE -- Angels outfielder Mike Trout makes this selection easy. He wasn't called up until April 28, but is already batting .338 with seven homers and 29 RBI. Also in running are the Rangers' Yu Darvish (9-4, 3.45) and the Orioles Wei-Yin Chen (7-3, 3.38).
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR -- It has to be Davey Johnson. Who would have thought the Nationals would be leading the NL East and ranked fourth in our Power Rankings? He's the perfect skipper for the young team. Second choice is the Mets' Terry Collins.
AL MANAGER -- It's hard to pick between the White Sox' Robin Ventura and Baltimore's Buck Showalter. Ventura, with no previous managerial experience, has had Chicago in or close to first place for most of this month. The veteran Showalter, on the other hand, has the Orioles 10 games over .500 as they attempt to make the postseason, and have a winning season for the first time since 1997. Flip the coin and it's Ventura.
We'll have to wait until after the World Series to see who really wins these awards.
My leaderboard could change drastically by then. Then again maybe it won't.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.