Injuries play a major role in the direction a team takes when approaching the trade deadline. Injuries to a few impact players can drastically change the team’s momentum and approach. Occasionally a club can work around such an injury to a degree of success, but it’s not an easy task. It’s usual for a number of contending clubs to have this issue in the middle of the season, and this year is no exception. The current injury situation among teams like the Cardinals and the Yankees provide some excellent examples for observation.
Losing the league’s best catcher
The Cardinals may have to change their strategy after losing one of the game’s best catchers, Yadier Molina, for 8-12 weeks. The Cards are undeniably better with Molina, but will be without him until at least mid-September. Though I couldn’t find the win-loss records, last year he was worth 5.5 WAR, and he was on pace for over a 4 WAR this year before the injury.
It’s not just his bat that contributes to wins, though — Molina has won five straight Gold Glove awards and the team has a losing record when he sits. For a team that has won at least 85 games every year since 2008, that speaks volumes to his ability to manage a staff and run the game. Removing that sort of presence can have disastrous effects.
As we near baseball’s All-Star break, it’s time to take a look at the players who have really stood out in the half-season gone by. There has been a plethora of outstanding individual performances so far, so it is difficult to determine who specific award winners would be if the season were to end today. That said, it’s an entertaining exercise to predict which players will take home the trophies, specifically the MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year awards. We’ll see how they stand up at the end of the year.
Don’t view this list as the be-all and end-all, but more as a way to better understand what each player has done up to this point. Today I’m going to take a look at some American League standouts. I’ll do the same for the National League tomorrow.
AL Most Valuable Player
In the American League, a handful of players have really pulled ahead in the race for MVP. Angels’ center fielder Mike Trout, possibly the best all-around player in baseball, is having another outstanding campaign. His batting average (.303) and stolen bases (10 SB, 0 CS) are slightly down from previous years, but his 20 home runs and 64 RBIs are on pace to set career highs. He has scored 60 runs, has a .986 OPS, and leads the league in the sabermetrician’s favorite stat, Wins Above Replacement (5.1) .