The 2023 Major League Baseball season is currently at the All-Star break. The true halfway point is actually a few weeks in the rearview, but the break is a natural point at which we bank what we've seen as the "first half" and look ahead toward the "second half" of the season.
One of things in which we take stock here would be a look at where each of the major awards stand. Let's roll out the "first half" awards winners. Keep in mind, these aren't predictions and say absolutely nothing about sustainability or any buzzword like that. The first half is complete and these selections are based on nothing else but first half performance. Pretend the season ended if you must.
Ahead we move with the faux-hardware.
American League MVP: Shohei Ohtani, Angels
This isn't close and the only arguments against Ohtani would come from people either ignorant or purposely trying to avoid naming him for whatever reason.
Ohtani is hitting over .300 while leading the league in home runs (32), triples, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+, total bases and offensive WAR. He's driven home 71 runs, scored 63 times and stolen 11 bases in 15 attempts. In and of itself, that's a quality MVP case. He's also 7-4 with a 3.32 ERA (133 ERA+), 1.10 WHIP and 132 strikeouts in 100 1/3 innings on the mound.
Add it up and he's obliterating everyone, unsurprisingly, in WAR. If you don't like WAR, just ask yourself if one of the most valuable hitters and one of the most valuable pitchers in the league were the same dude and, if that's the case, if anyone else is even close to as valuable.
The whole "his team has to be in playoff contention" argument doesn't really hold water here because the Angels are within striking range and were actually in playoff position until a few days ago.
There is no reasonable argument against Ohtani.
Also in the mix: No one, really, but we'll list a few names for down-ballot purposes. Wander Franco, Rays; Luis Robert, White Sox; Adolis García, Rangers; José Ramírez, Guardians; Corey Seager, Rangers; Bo Bichette, Blue Jays
National League MVP: Ronald Acuña Jr.
This also isn't close.
Acuña is hitting .331 with 21 home runs while leading the majors in runs scored at 79. He's driven home 55 runs despite hitting leadoff and leads the league with 41 stolen bases. He also leads the league in OPS, OPS+, total bases, times on base and has a huge lead in WAR. He's such a complete hitter that he's second in average, third in OBP and second in slugging.
For those who want a team element, the Braves are the best team in baseball. They are loaded, no doubt, but Acuña is their easy and obvious best player. In fact, he's been the easy and obvious NL MVP from the start of the season and hasn't let up.
American League Cy Young: Framber Valdez, Astros
This is razor thin and I'd accept arguments for a handful of other pitchers, which means it'll be really fun to track this award in the second half of the season instead of constantly, vehemently arguing for someone. Ah, who am I kidding? Everyone is going to pick a horse and just argue away instead of enjoying it, but I can dream.
Valdez is only 6 2/3 off the league lead in innings while holding the lead in ERA and ERA+. He's in the top 10 in most major categories and in the top five of several. As I said, this is a really close race and that means there isn't a wrong answer right now, but I like Framber.
National League Cy Young: Zac Gallen, Diamondbacks
Another one that is wide open.
I'm a fan of limiting the opposition with excellent rate stats while having a big workload. Gallen leads the majors in innings pitched and he's still leading the NL in WHIP and is sixth in ERA. That's a great case.
American League Rookie of the Year: Josh Jung, Rangers
Jung is holding down a middle-of-the-order spot for a first-place team while hitting .280 with a .504 slugging percentage. He's homered 19 times with 56 RBI in his 88 games and is playing quality defense at third base. There's certainly competition here, but I do think Jung is the clear-cut winner, even if it's not a blowout.
National League Rookie of the Year: Corbin Carroll, Diamondbacks
Out of every award listed, I wrote in three winners without thinking about it. The first two were the two MVPs and the third was this one.
There are certainly other NL rookies worth highlighting, such as seemingly half the Reds' team, but Carroll is the only one here with such a dominant full-season resume. He's played in 86 games and has hit .289/.366/.549 (148 OPS+) with 20 doubles, three triples, 18 home runs, 48 RBI, 63 runs, 26 stolen bases and 3.8 WAR. There's concern moving forward with how his shoulder will hold up, but the 86 games he's already played have spotted him a big lead here.
American League Manager of the Year: Bruce Bochy, Rangers
It's the first year back in the dugout for Boch since he and the Giants parted ways after the 2019 season. How many people had the Rangers in first place in the AL West over the defending World Series champs at the All-Star break? Anyone making that bet would've at least been assuming full health, especially from Jacob deGrom.
Whatever Bochy is doing with that ballclub, he's been exceptional.
Also in the mix: Brandon Hyde, Orioles; Kevin Cash, Rays
National League Manager of the Year: N/A
I actually have an NL Manager of the Year vote this season and, as such, it's proper to abstain from picks or predictions throughout the season.