Cabrera gets nod over Davis for midseason AL MVP

Goldschmidt, Scherzer, Kershaw among others deserving recognition at halfway point

You don't win the MVP award in May and June.

Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown last year but didn't edge past Mike Trout for the MVP until September, when he carried the Tigers into the playoffs while Trout's Angels slid to the sidelines. The last month should tell the story again this season, but it's worth considering who has a leg up at the midway point.

You could easily go two ways for American League MVP. Maybe I just have a Cabrera bias, but I'm going Cabrera over the Orioles' Chris Davis, by the slightest of margins.

Nobody has repeated a Triple Crown performance, and the Tigers' slugger has a shot to do that. He entered the weekend leading the majors in batting average (.364) and RBIs (85) but six home runs behind the Orioles' remarkable Davis, who hit his 32nd off the White Sox's Hector Santiago on Wednesday.

Davis, by the way, is not the overnight sensation some are viewing him as. This is a guy who hit .337 with a .609 slugging percentage in his four seasons in Triple A. He has improved his mechanics some — SiriusXM's Jim Bowden says his head is so still on his swing that he reminds him of Ken Griffey Jr. — but mostly just developed the confidence to hit big-league pitching like he did the guys in Albuquerque and Memphis.

With guys like Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis around him, Davis is capable of a wire-to-wire season that makes him the MVP — although we probably shouldn't expect him to chase Roger Maris' 61 home runs, let alone Barry Bonds' 73. He has to slow down a little at some point, doesn't he?

Still, Cabrera went into the weekend ahead of Davis in runs, walks and on-base percentage, in addition to the previously mentioned edge in batting average and RBIs. He also had 34 fewer strikeouts than Davis, who was on pace for 179.

My MVP ballot now would look like this: Cabrera, Davis, Machado, Jason Kipnis (Indians), Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox), Trout, Josh Donaldson (A's), Nelson Cruz (Rangers), Robinson Cano (Yankees) and Joe Mauer (Twins).

The other midseason awards:

NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks. The steadily improving first baseman has been the most productive player on a surprise first-place team, but there's no clear cut front-runner here. The rest of my ballot: Allen Craig (Cardinals), Joey Votto (Reds), Yadier Molina (Cardinals), Andrew McCutchen (Pirates), Buster Posey (Giants), Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies), David Wright (Mets), Carlos Gomez (Brewers) and Jason Grilli (Pirates).

AL Cy Young: Max Scherzer, Tigers. Yes, there are guys with better earned-run averages. But consider Scherzer's 0.92 WHIP almost as impressive as his 13-0 record. The Missouri Tiger, not teammate Justin Verlander, should start Game 1 if the playoffs began today. The rest of my ballot: Yu Darvish (Rangers), Hisashi Iwakuma (Mariners), Bartolo Colon (A's) and Chris Sale (White Sox).

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers. It's always his award until someone takes it away, and that hasn't happened this season. He's on his way to leading the NL in earned-run average for the third consecutive year, and only the Mets' Matt Harvey (0.91) has a lower WHIP than his 0.93. The rest of my ballot: Harvey, Jordan Zimmermann (Nationals), Cliff Lee (Phillies) and Adam Wainwright (Cardinals).

AL Rookie of the Year: Cody Allen, Indians. Yeah, I know. Who's he? Allen has been a significant contributor to the Indians' bullpen, which has been a key part to the team's turnaround. A 23rd-round pick in the 2011 draft, he had a 4-1 strikeout-walk ratio and a 2.35 ERA in his first 35 outings. The rest of a thin ballot: David Lough (Royals) and Dan Straily (A's).

NL Rookie of the Year: Yasiel Puig, Dodgers. There is a lot of competition for this award, but how do you overlook a guy who gets 44 hits in his first 100 big-league at-bats? The rest of my ballot: Shelby Miller (Cardinals) and Jose Fernandez (Marlins).

AL Manager of the Year: Terry Francona, Indians. The culture in Cleveland changed the day he was hired. The rest of my ballot: Bob Melvin (A's), Joe Girardi (Yankees).

NL Manager of the Year: Clint Hurdle, Pirates. This is the year he reaps the rewards from all the optimism and hard work he poured into the last two seasons. The rest of my ballot: Kirk Gibson (Diamondbacks), Fredi Gonzalez (Braves).

Ready for replay: Orioles manager Buck Showalter might be the most pro-replay guy in baseball. He says he's ready to see technology replace the human element, including an electronic strike zone.

"Put a big box up on the scoreboard,'' Showalter says. "Strike one. Ball one. Just let the scoreboard show where the pitch was. We'd have a lot less arguments. Games would be quicker.''

Don't bet on Showalter getting his wish, at least not soon. During an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Tuesday, Joe Torre said he believes that the key is getting the most important calls right, not all calls. He said that one of the ideas being explored is to have replay after the sixth inning, theoretically based on the idea that you can overcome a bad call early in the game, and suggested there may be a more comprehensive system in place for the playoffs than the regular season.

That's been my thought all along — that MLB should use its two extra umpires for the playoffs in a replay booth, not on the field, but not wildly expand replay for the regular season — but it's tough to believe that a system would be put in place for the late innings only. That's downright wacky.

Hometown hero: Orioles reliever T.J. McFarland, a graduate of Stagg High in Palos Hills, had his own personal cheering section Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field. There were 300-plus of his friends and family at the Orioles-White Sox game and McFarland said he knew them all.

The McFarland section was located down the right-field line and started chanting "T.J., T.J., T.J.'' when he appeared on the field before the game. "I felt bad,'' McFarland told the MLB Network. "They were chanting (my name) as our starter warmed up.''

As a special bonus, McFarland got to spend time with the Stanley Cup and had his picture taken with a the Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp and Brandon Bollig. "It was a great day,'' he said.

progers@tribune.com

Twitter @ChiTribRogers

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