Monday Morning Roundtable: Midseason Awards
The first (or really the pre-All Star break) half of the season is in the books and the Phillies are bad. This week I asked the writers to give away some positive awards, because we all really don’t want to dwell on Michael Saunders’ Phillies tenure.
First Half MVP:
Adam: My MVP is Aaron Altherr. I’m sure I’m not the only one on board that rocket, and for good reason. We have ample evidence now that this is the player Altherr truly is, and not the withered husk still recovering from injury in 2016. In 2015 and 2017, Altherr has posted very fine wRC+ of 125 and 124.
Tim: Aaron Altherr. I wanted to pick Galvis. But Altherr is their best everyday player. For all the disappointments this season, he is the only one in the lineup to provide any long-term promise.
Brad: I’d suspect anyone in the Phils clubhouse would say the team would be literally stabbing each other with broken maple bat shards covered in tears if not for Freddy Galvis. Still: Aaron Altherr has to be the MVP, just based on offensive output alone. The lineup can’t survive without a couple consistent guys, as we have seen for long stretches this year, and Altherr has been the most consistently productive.
Matt: It is Aaron Altherr, and I am not sure it is particularly close. The advanced metrics hate his glove, which doesn’t entirely match the eye test. What does match the eye test is a .284/.356/.530 batting line that has withstood some pretty hard slumps to still be the best thing the Phillies have consistently had in their lineup.
First Half Cy Young:
Adam: Cy Young is another slam dunk for me, and it’s Aaron Nola. Since returning from injury, he’s been fantastic, albeit with a few clunkers here and there. If Nola can continue pitching this way, he’ll be the #2 pitcher we all dreamed on.
Tim: Aaron Nola. The pick was Neshek a few weeks ago. Neshek has been stellar. But Nola is once again throwing like a top-of-rotation arm.
Brad: Pat Neshek may be the all-star, but Aaron Nola’s finally back on track. With Eickhoff unable to buy a win, Velazquez down for a long stretch now, and starts on and off from at least two guys who many consider “depth”, Nola has been the anchor for most of the year.
Matt: We entered the year worried about Nola’s durability, and an early stint on DL for back problems sure didn’t help allay those concerns. While Pat Neshek is the Phillies’ All-Star, Nola has put up a 2.61 ERA in June and July, while averaging nearly 7 innings a start, which has stabilized the Phillies’ rotation. His velocity is up and he has become a more complete pitcher.
Rookie of the Year:
Adam: My Rookie award goes to Andrew Knapp and Nick Pivetta (I know it’s a copout, but I’m allowed). Knapp has been a serviceable backup with good on-base skills. Pivetta has shown the ability to get through the order two times, and recently has picked it up to the point where he’s reaching the 7th and striking out close to a batter per inning.
Tim: Ben Lively. The strikeouts still aren’t there. But he’s kept the ball in the park at a time when they’re flying out at a historic rate. By results, no Phillies rookie has been better.
Brad: I think Andrew Knapp is the guy. I guess Ben Lively could manage to work his way around the league the rest of the year without imploding, and maybe that would put him ahead. For now, though, Knapp is both decent and useful, as Cameron Rupp has generally been, for lack of a better term, “a giant bite of shite” thus far.
Matt: I want to give it to Nick Pivetta because he has had the most dominant flashes, but his season numbers aren’t great. Ben Lively has a solid ERA, but a 3.6 K/9 in 42.2 innings. I have to go with Andrew Knapp then. He is striking out a ton, but walking a decent rate this has given him a .250/.355/.383 stat, despite a .346 BABIP. Cameron Rupp has been a disaster and Knapp has allowed the Phillies to get something from the catcher position.
Prospect of the Year:
Adam: Prospect of the year is Rhys Hoskins on performance alone, but I’m still bullish on J.P. Crawford from a skills standpoint and am confident he will be the player we think he can be. As much as I appreciate what Tommy Joseph has done, I hope he’s traded so we can see Hoskins sooner rather than later.
Tim: Rhys Hoskins. Sixto Sanchez has the sky-high ceiling. Scott Kingery took a big leap forward. But Hoskins just keeps hitting, and now he’s forcing the Phillies’ hand. When was the last time that happened?
Brad: Whoever had Scott Kingery as “guy everyone would be most clamoring for” over power hitters Rhys Hoskins and Dylan Cozens and highly regarded prospects JP Crawford and Jorge Alfaro, claim your prize. Kingery has broken out this year, as he’s raised his ceiling with in-game power not previously suspected. Still not likely a 25-30 HR guy in the bigs, he’s probably not the 6-8 HR guy most thought he might be, either. That boost, plus his continued capable defense, OBP around .370 with a decent walk rate, and big speed (23/26 stealing against AA and AAA catchers is alright by me), make his season the star of the Phillies Minor League System thus far.
Matt: Rhys Hoskins has been the best prospect, and his drop in strikeout rate while moving to AAA has been impressive. Scott Kingery’s power surge has been equally impressive. However, I have to go with Sixto Sanchez, because even if his stats aren’t amazing and he is still eons away, he has made that leap into the elite prospect tier and given the Phillies the elite pitching prospect they didn’t have.