It's time to hand out some unofficial midseason hardware now that the MLB schedule has reached the All-Star break. theScore's MLB editors have selected the best and worst performances from the first half of the season.
AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels
With all due respect to a horde of other worthy candidates, including Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, and Jose Ramirez, this is Mike Trout's league and he's having an historic season. Without his unparalleled brilliance, who knows where the Angels would be right now.
Also receiving votes: J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts, Red Sox
NL MVP: Freddie Freeman, Braves
Finally, this appears to be Freeman's year. The 28-year-old has led the Braves' surprise revival with a stellar all-around season that's garnered him the majority of our votes as the NL's first-half MVP.
Also receiving votes: Jacob deGrom, Mets; Nolan Arenado, Rockies
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Astros
Verlander has separated himself from the pack since joining Houston last September, and his vintage first half for the defending champions has him well on the way to a second career Cy Young at season's end.
Also receiving votes: Chris Sale, Red Sox; Luis Severino, Yankees
NL Cy Young: Jacob deGrom, Mets
It's not deGrom's fault that the Mets have given him the worst run support in the game - they average 3.79 runs scored when he pitches. Yet the 30-year-old has risen above his mediocre team to post an MLB-best 1.68 ERA and ranks top five in almost every pitching category.
Also receiving votes: Max Scherzer, Nationals
AL Rookie: Gleyber Torres, Yankees
The hype was real. Torres has exploded onto the scene in the Bronx and leads all AL rookies in homers and slugging percentage heading into the break.
Also receiving votes: Shohei Ohtani, Angels
NL Rookie: Juan Soto, Nationals
Baseball's youngest player doesn't look anything close to his 19 years of age. Soto has been one of the Nats' brightest spots this year and was a runaway choice as the Senior Circuit's best first-half rookie.
Also receiving votes: Brian Anderson, Marlins
AL Reliever: Edwin Diaz, Mariners
With 36 saves, Diaz has not only surpassed his 2017 total but is also on pace to break K-Rod's single-season record of 62 set in 2008. Opponents are practically helpless against him, hitting a meager .093 in save situations.
Also receiving votes: Aroldis Chapman, Yankees
NL Reliever: Josh Hader, Brewers
Hader's not a closer, but he's still the best all-around reliever in the game right now. The 24-year-old has struck out 89 batters in only 31 first-half appearances and was a unanimous choice for this honor.
AL Manager: Bob Melvin, Athletics
His team plays in a tough division and has dealt with all kinds of starting pitching injuries, yet Melvin has calmly guided the Athletics within five games of a playoff spot in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season. It's beginning to feel like 2012 in the East Bay.
Also receiving votes: Alex Cora, Red Sox; Kevin Cash, Rays
NL Manager: Brian Snitker, Braves
Snitker may not be a household name outside of Georgia, but the Braves lifer - he's in his 41st year with the organization - has done a remarkable job of managing the NL's most surprising contender during the first half.
Also receiving votes: Craig Counsell, Brewers
AL Comeback Player: Shin-Soo Choo
Choo became an All-Star once again after raising his OPS by over 100 points from his 2017 total. He heads into the break riding a 51-game on-base streak.
Also receiving votes: Nathan Eovaldi, Rays; Edwin Jackson, Athletics; Tyler Skaggs, Angels
NL Comeback Player: Matt Kemp, Dodgers
Even when they reacquired him from Atlanta this winter, the Dodgers didn't want Kemp - but they couldn't find a taker. Good news for them, as Kemp has returned to L.A. with a vengeance and has morphed from unwanted salary dump into All-Star starter and has become an integral component of Dave Roberts' lineup.
Also receiving votes: Miles Mikolas, Cardinals; Trevor Story, Rockies
AL Least Valuable Player: Chris Davis, Orioles
There are 164 hitters who are qualified for the batting title in Major League Baseball this season. Chris Davis ranks either 164th or 163rd in virtually every rate stat, and is on pace to post one of the worst seasons ever on one of the worst teams ever. Oh, and he's making $23 million a year through 2022.
NL Least Valuable Player: Dexter Fowler, Cardinals
Fowler was supposed to be a difference-maker when the Cardinals stole him from the Cubs in free agency two years ago. This season he's been anything but, owning a meager 50 OPS+ in just 72 games, and his poor play prompted his general manager to publicly question his effort.
Also receiving votes: Jose Reyes, Mets
AL Worst Pitcher: Lucas Giolito, White Sox
We've named our worst first-half pitcher award after Phil Ortega, who in 1965 put up minus-1.9 fWAR - the worst season ever by a pitcher. It's fitting that Giolito, the former top prospect who's fallen on hard times in Chicago, is our first-half "winner." His minus-0.7 fWAR through 19 first-half starts is Ortega-esque, and is already tied for the seventh-worst season in history. Giolito also leads the league in walks and hit batsmen, and owns the highest qualified ERA among starters.
Also receiving votes: Jason Hammel, Royals
NL Worst Pitcher: Sal Romano, Reds
Romano's barely on the plus side when it comes to WAR, but that's the only positive about his season. Only six other pitchers are giving up homers at a higher rate in 2018, and he ranks top five in both home runs and hits allowed.
Also receiving votes: Homer Bailey, Reds; Bryan Mitchell, Padres; Bryan Shaw, Rockies; Hector Neris, Phillies
Underrated AL Player: Andrelton Simmons, Angels
The shortstop position is so deep in the AL, meaning Simmons was overlooked for the All-Star Game yet again. A shame, because in addition to his usual defensive brilliance, he's having his best statistical season at the plate while cutting his strikeouts down significantly.
Also receiving votes: Jean Segura and Marco Gonzales, Mariners; Eddie Rosario, Twins; Mike Moustakas, Royals
Underrated NL Player: Ross Stripling, Dodgers
In the closest call of all our awards, Stripling narrowly emerges as the most underrated player in the NL. The first-time All-Star only moved into the Dodgers' rotation in May, yet he now leads his team in both strikeouts and ERA, and sits top 15 league-wide in fWAR.
Also receiving votes: Lorenzo Cain, Brewers; Brandon Belt, Giants; Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez, Reds; Tyler Anderson, Rockies
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)