Cano, Votto lead Midseason Awards
To better understand how the expanded playoff format works, not to mention the wackiness of this season, pretend the season ended last night. The playoffs would begin with back-to-back wild card knockout games: the Orioles at the Angels and the Dodgers at the Pirates.
Wait. The Orioles? The Pirates? What is this, 1979? The Orioles-Angels winner would advance to play the Rangers. The Dodgers-Pirates winner would move on to play the Nationals. That's right: a postseason game in Washington. Now we're talking 1933 vintage.
That Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Washington -- total playoff appearances in 42 combined seasons since 1998: zero -- are sitting in playoff position halfway through the season tells you this truly has been a half-baked year. As teams reach their 81st game this week, and with the All-Star Game a week from today in Kansas City, it's time to take stock of how we arrived here by taking a look at the major award winners for the first half.
And yes, a Pittsburgh Pirate figures prominently on my MVP ballot. Over the past three years, baseball writers have filled in 1,440 places on NL MVP ballots. None of them have included a Pirate. The last Pittsburgh player to be named on a ballot was Nate McLouth, who received one 10th place vote in 2008. The times are indeed changing.