Texas Rangers First Half Awards

**ORIGINAL POSTED DATE 7/11/12**

The first half of the 2012 season for the Texas Rangers probably could have gone better, given all of the injuries and prolonged slumps and blowout losses that were in the middle of it. However, sitting atop the AL West with a 4-game lead, and only a half-game off of the best record in baseball in spite of injuries and slumps and blowouts, it could have gone much, much worse. Here are some of the awards to hand out to those responsible for the Rangers 52-34 start. 
MVP: Josh Hamilton

This one is really too obvious. I don’t need to explain it. You know Hamilton has been awesome in the first half and is the clear MVP of the team, so that’s all I’m going to say about it. Really.

Pitcher of the Half-Year: Matt Harrison

Fellow Shutdown Inning writer Lincoln Floyd spends three minutes a day, in his room, with the doors and windows shut, just dancing. He worked hard over the offseason to make sure Harrison received the proper amount of credit, and his hard work is paying off. The #HarryBandwagon is filling up. Harrison has been the most consistent pitcher on the staff, and has really carried the load for this pitching staff. He leads the team in innings pitched, ERA, and FIP. He is actually striking out batters at a lower rate this year than last year, but he has been immensely effective anyway. In the second half of 2011, Harrison wore down and became ineffective, so keep an eye on that as the innings mount up and temperatures rise.

Rookie of the Half-Year: Yu Darvish

Coming out of Spring Training, it seemed all that Darvish had to do was not trip over his shoelaces and he would have this award locked up. However, a gigantic honorable mention has to go to Robbie Ross. Darvish has been of greater value to the club with his 102.2 IP and 3.59 ERA with 10.3 K/9. Darvish is also electric, and is showing signs that he could one day be a legitimate Ace on this staff. Ross, however, has been the life preserver of the bullpen. For a unit that appeared to be without a left-handed reliever in Spring Training, they can claim they have had one of the best five lefties in all of baseball. Ross has pitched the most relief innings in the American League with 47.1, and sports a sparkling 0.95 ERA. Ross has inherited 29 runners this year, and only allowed four to score. That is the best rate on the team.

Most Disappointing: Michael Young

Much virtual ink has been put on to virtual paper about the season that Young has had so far. There is still time for him to turn it around, but this has been the worst season of his professional career, and it’s not even close. He has not been driving the ball like he used to, has had worse plate discipline than ever, and is hitting more ground balls (and weak ones, at that) than he has in his illustrious career. Young’s approach needs a refresh. It will be tough, but it’s time for an old dog to learn a new trick. Honorable mentions to Mike Napoli and Scott Feldman here.

Most Surprising: Craig Gentry

Gentry has been crucial to the team’s success in the first half of the year. While still considered to be a fourth outfielder, he has played his way onto the field more often. The combination of hitting with authority at the plate and his superb defense has made him the fourth-most valuable position player on the team. Gentry’s 2.6 fWAR trails only Hamilton (3.8), Adrian Beltre (2.9), and Elvis Andrus (2.7), and Gentry has less than half the plate appearances of each of those three. No one would have expected Gentry to have a higher OPS than Kinsler, Cruz, Napoli, or Young, but his .823 OPS is better than all of those by at least 40 points.

The Rangers have been a streaky team so far this year. They have put together runs of 15-4 and 17-4, which means they were 20-26 in the rest of their games. With the softness of playing National League teams in the rearview mirror, and the Angels hanging close, the second half could present a stiffer challenge than the first 86 games. The reinforcements of pitchers coming off the disabled list should arrive soon, providing some relief to the key players who have had their fingers in the dam to this point. With this team, it will likely be a new cast of characters winning these awards in the second half, and in no way is that depressing. 

Peter Ellwood is a Senior Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can email him at Peter.Ellwood@shutdowninning.com or reach him on Twitter @FutureGM 
Peter Ellwood

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