We wrap up the mid-season MLB coverage with a final article that crowns the Cy Young winners at the half-way point of the season. And without wasting any time lets jump straight into this one.
Your AL and NL Cy Young award winners are:
American League - Masahiro Tanaka
Tanaka stole the offseason headlines, and he's stolen the majority of the first half headlines for his miraculous rookie year with the Yankees. It's tough to imagine a player living up to the hype (and money) that Tanaka generated over the winter, but the 25-year-old phenom from Japan has actually exceeded it.
Yu Darvish and Mark Buehrle have been fantastic, but right now the race is between Tanaka and King Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners. And it would be pretty reasonable to consider handing the award to either Hernandez or Tanaka. I'm going to go with Tanaka for what he has done for a Yankees' pitching staff that has relied on him to stay in the race.
Tanaka leads the American League in wins and has the same ERA as Hernandez (2.10) - that tops the league too. His WHIP is decimal points higher than the King's and Tanaka has accumulated the best WAR in the AL in two less starts than Hernandez.
But this race is far from over. Tanaka will have to finish just as strong in the second half in his first Major League season, where questions of his durability will come up after a career in Japan, where teams implement six-man rotations. But I don't see any reason to think he'll drop off. Tanaka has put up ridiculous swing-and-miss numbers with equally as impressive control stats. Only David Price has walked fewer in equal number of innings.
The big story will also be Tanaka's bid to become the second player to ever win the Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young in the same season. Fernando Valenzuela was the only pitcher to ever accomplish such a feat in 1981. But his race with Jose Abreu for Rookie of the Year may very well end up being the tighter of the two. There's plenty to keep an eye on with Masahiro Tanaka in the last three months of the season. But he wins it for his great first half.
National League - Adam Wainwright
Waino leads the NL in wins and ERA so this choice seems fairly straight-forward. Johnny Cueto is hot on his heels, though. With more innings pitched and a better WHIP in a tougher home ballpark (for pitchers), Cueto might actually have had the better first half from a purely individual standpoint.
I'm going to give this mid-year Cy to Adam Wainwright, though. Year in and year out, this guy ranks near the top in just about every pitching category and he has never won a Cy Young in his career. Hopefully this is the year that all changes, and the Cardinals sure hope so. They will need as much as they can get from their ace with much of their staff banged up at this point of the year and the Brewers surging.
Look for Wainwright to put the Cardinals' staff on his back in the second half and win his first Cy Young ever. For now, he'll have to be satisfied with the half-way award.