In strange year, no surprises among Midseason Award choices
The Dodgers are bankrupt; 62-year-old Terry Collins, who is older than the remote control and hadn't managed a game in 11 years, is suddenly the second-youngest manager in the NL East (or, as it might be known in the latest realignment plan, the Del Boca Vista Division), 13 teams are within five games of .500, Pittsburgh has a winning team but Chicago and Los Angeles, given four chances, have none, and Adam Dunn (.177) and Dan Uggla (.175) are halfway to the worst batting average since the deadball era ended in 1920. Weird only begins to describe the first half of the 2011 baseball season; greatness does not.
Look hard enough, however, between all the mediocre teams that are permitted to loiter around the pennant race and the lack of hitting in today's game and the list of fading stars (Dunn, Uggla, Chone Figgins, Miguel Tejada, Hideki Matsui, Raul Ibañez, Vernon Wells, Justin Morneau, Jason Bay, etc.), and you can find exceptional performances. Adrian Gonzalez and Roy Halladay, for instance, have been worth everything the Red Sox and Phillies invested to acquire and sign them over the previous two offseasons. Prince Fielder is making a case to become the next great addition when he bolts Milwaukee after the season.
Surprisingly -- or not, given the strange season -- the half-year award winners don't yield much argument or controversy. Here are my picks for the major award winners at the halfway mark of the season.