Midseason awards for each MLB team

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Our editors hand out awards to all 30 MLB clubs at the unofficial halfway point of the 2022 season.

Arizona Diamondbacks

MVP: Christian Walker
Best Pitcher: Merrill Kelly
Most Improved: Zach Davies
Best Rookie: Alek Thomas

Walker quietly cruising to 22 homers before the All-Star break is pretty impressive, even if he's striking out nearly 20% of the time. On the pitching side, both Kelly and Zac Gallen have been decent, with Kelly edging out his rotation mate with a better ERA and FIP in more innings. In fact, there's a case to be made that the 33-year-old righty has actually been the team's MVP. The brightest spot of the first half, though, has been 22-year-old rookie outfielder Thomas. He's yet to show his full potential at the plate, but racking up seven dingers and four steals over 62 games ain't bad.

Atlanta Braves

MVP: Austin Riley
Best Pitcher: Max Fried
Most Improved: Kyle Wright
Best Rookie: Michael Harris/Spencer Strider

Strider rocketed through the minors to become an invaluable weapon in Atlanta’s rotation. The hard-throwing righty has racked up 1.7 fWAR in just 10 starts. His overpowering arsenal has allowed him to register 13.80 K/9 and his transition from the bullpen to the rotation has gone better than anyone could have anticipated. Harris has injected some incredible defense and speed on the base paths, reinforcing the Braves on both sides of the ball.

Baltimore Orioles

MVP: Ryan Mountcastle
Best Pitcher: Jorge Lopez
Most Improved: Jorge Mateo
Best Rookie: Felix Bautista

The Orioles went from a 110-loss team to a wild-card contender thanks to a big leap from the pitching staff. Baltimore's hurlers accrued the ninth-best fWAR in baseball during the first half, including the third-best mark among relievers. Lopez, the club's lone All-Star, owns a 1.62 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 17 saves, while Bautista possesses a 1.72 ERA with 11 holds. A marked improvement defensively has also helped, as Mateo ranks in the top 10 in defensive runs saved.

Boston Red Sox

MVP: Rafael Devers
Best Pitcher: Michael Wacha
Most Improved: Christian Vazquez
Best Rookie: Kutter Crawford

Devers is making a strong case to be an MVP finalist. The star third baseman has amassed the second-most fWAR (4.6) in the majors, the second-most hits (112), and third-best slugging percentage (.601). On the pitching front, Wacha has come out of nowhere to help a rotation that has been missing Chris Sale for almost the entire season. The 31-year-old veteran owns a 2.69 ERA across 13 starts (70 1/3 innings).

Chicago Cubs

MVP: Willson Contreras
Best Pitcher: Scott Effross
Most Improved: David Robertson
Best Rookie: Christopher Morel

Contreras is almost assuredly in his final days as a Cub, and he's making sure to leave on a high note. He was the easy choice for first-half MVP as their offensive anchor in the midst of a career-best season. Effross, a rookie reliever who rebuilt himself into a sidearming bullpen ace, stood out as the best pitcher on a disappointing staff. The 28-year-old's 43 appearances lead the majors, and his 1.99 FIP is the lowest on his team.

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Chicago White Sox

MVP: Jose Abreu
Best Pitcher: Dylan Cease
Most Improved: Andrew Vaughn
Best Rookie: Jake Burger

Cease might have been the biggest snub at this year's All-Star Game, but MLB's strikeout leader will take home some unofficial hardware here. The 26-year-old has followed up a breakout 2021 campaign with a career year in which he's posted a 2.15 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 12.9 K/9. Cease's emergence as the team's ace has been even more important considering Carlos Rodon's departure and the struggles of Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn.

Cincinnati Reds

MVP: Brandon Drury
Best Pitcher: Luis Castillo
Most Improved: Brandon Drury
Best Rookie: Alexis Diaz

Drury's been the surprising star for the lowly Reds. He's one of only two Cincinnati hitters with more than 10 homers and has an OPS above .800 for the first time in his eight-year career. Castillo, the Reds' All-Star representative, is also enjoying a career-best season despite a bit of a late start due to injuries. Diaz has become an important bullpen arm in his rookie season, and is the only Reds reliever striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings.

Cleveland Guardians

MVP: Jose Ramirez
Best Pitcher: Shane Bieber
Most Improved: Triston McKenzie/Andres Gimenez
Best Rookie: Oscar Gonzalez

It's hard to put into perspective how important Ramirez is for the Guardians. He leads the team in games played, runs, doubles, home runs, RBIs, stolen bases, OBP, slugging, OPS, and fWAR. He's got six more home runs than the next highest player on his club, and 28 more RBIs. His 4.4 fWAR is worth more than the next highest two players (Gimenez, Amed Rosario) combined. Even after signing a five-year, $124-million extension this winter, you could argue he's criminally underpaid in terms of the value he brings.

Colorado Rockies

MVP: C.J. Cron
Best Pitcher: Daniel Bard
Most Improved: Charlie Blackmon
Best Rookie: Brian Serven

Cron bounced around the majors way more than warranted and he's really found a home in Colorado. His 28 homers last year were impressive, but he's on pace to easily cruise past that now, crushing 21 before the break. Even further, his 135 wRC+ would be a career high. Meanwhile, Blackmon has bounced back after disappointing 2020 and 2021 seasons; the veteran outfielder already has more home runs than he hit last year. The pitching has left much to be desired, though, with Daniel Bard almost winning best pitcher by default.

Detroit Tigers

MVP: Tarik Skubal
Best Pitcher: Tarik Skubal
Most Improved: Alex Lange
Best Rookie: Beau Brieske

Skubal takes home MVP and best pitcher honors due to limited options. He leads the team with 18 starts, a 4.11 ERA, and 102 strikeouts - 48 more than the next highest pitcher. It's been ugly for Detroit on both sides of the ball, but the pitching has definitely been better than the abysmal hitting. Miguel Cabrera leads all qualified hitters with a .670 OPS. Javier Baez leads the team with nine home runs but is slashing .213/.251/.375. The bullpen has been the Tigers' bright spot with Lange, Joe Jimenez, and Gregory Soto deserving honorable mentions.

Mary DeCicco / Major League Baseball / Getty

Houston Astros

MVP: Yordan Alvarez
Best Pitcher: Justin Verlander
Most Improved: Ryne Stanek
Best Rookie: Jeremy Pena

Alvarez is having an MVP-caliber campaign and is one of the most feared hitters in baseball. The 25-year-old leads the majors in OPS and ranks second in the AL in homers and RBIs despite missing more than a week with a sore hand. Houston's slugger is also on pace to break the franchise record for homers (47) set by Jeff Bagwell in 2000.

Kansas City Royals

MVP: Andrew Benintendi
Best Pitcher: Scott Barlow
Most Improved: Brad Keller
Best Rookie: Bobby Witt Jr.

Witt had his share of ups and downs through his first 88 games but has shown plenty of flashes as to why he projects to be a future star. He leads the club with 13 homers and 47 RBIs, and sits third in OPS among qualified hitters behind Hunter Dozier and Benintendi.

Los Angeles Angels

MVP: Shohei Ohtani
Best Pitcher: Shohei Ohtani
Most Improved: Taylor Ward
Best Rookie: Reid Detmers

Ohtani's narrative last season was that he was doing things baseball had never seen before. Well, the phenom is actually pitching better than he did in 2021, with superior marks in ERA, FIP, WHIP, and K/9. At the plate, he's on pace to produce more RBIs and doubles, and is hitting for a higher average. If Ohtani stays on this trajectory, he would become the first player to win back-to-back MVPs since Miguel Cabrera in 2012 and 2013.

Los Angeles Dodgers

MVP: Freddie Freeman
Best Pitcher: Tony Gonsolin
Most Improved: Tyler Anderson
Best Rookie: Ryan Pepiot

The rich get richer. The Dodgers were already a team of stars when they added Freeman and now he's been their best player, hitting 13 homers, swiping seven bags, and posting a 159 wRC+. Perhaps most amazing, though, are the contributions from Gonsolin - who has an immaculate 11-0 record with a 2.02 ERA - and Anderson - who has gone from being a journeyman with a 4.62 career ERA to a stalwart in the Dodgers' rotation with a 2.96 ERA.

Miami Marlins

MVP: Sandy Alcantara
Best Pitcher: Sandy Alcantara
Most Improved: Jazz Chisholm Jr.
Best Rookie: Cody Poteet

Alcantara could have a claim to be the first pitcher to win Cy Young and MVP in the same season since 2014. A true throwback, Alcantara is a threat to go the distance each time he takes the ball. The big right-hander leads the league in innings pitched and fWAR, while sitting second in ERA. The Marlins locked up Alcantara to a team-friendly extension before the season. That deal is looking like one that will help Miami for years to come.

Milwaukee Brewers

MVP: Corbin Burnes
Best Pitcher: Corbin Burnes
Most Improved: Victor Caratini
Best Rookie: Jason Alexander

Pitching continues to rule in Milwaukee. Burnes is making a very good case to repeat as the NL Cy Young winner; the Brewers would simply be lost without him. Caratini, the Brewers' backup catcher, is one of only two hitters on their 40-man roster with an OPS above .800 (minimum 140 plate appearances). That's a career best for the glove-first backstop, making him indispensable on a team desperate for any kind of offense. Milwaukee doesn't have many rookies on its roster, making it difficult to find a standout. Alexander, a 29-year-old journeyman who's finally getting a shot in the majors, is a bit of a default winner here.

Brace Hemmelgarn / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Minnesota Twins

MVP: Byron Buxton
Best Pitcher: Joe Ryan
Most Improved: Luis Arraez
Best Rookie: Jose Miranda

Choosing between Buxton and Arraez wasn't easy, but we'll give Buxton the edge for his power and game-changing defense. The 28-year-old has already established a new career high in homers, and he's played in his most games since 2019. Meanwhile, Arraez is slashing .338/.411/.445 with a team-leading 104 hits and nine more walks than strikeouts. This comes a season after he posted a career-worst .733 OPS.

New York Mets

MVP: Pete Alonso
Best Pitcher: Edwin Diaz
Most Improved: David Peterson
Best Rookie: Colin Holderman

Diaz has righted the ship and is arguably the most dominant reliever in the game. With the Mets having aspirations of winning their first World Series since 1986, Diaz will be expected to shoulder a heavy load down the stretch. He’s in position to cash in as a free agent this offseason. The 28-year-old has a staggering 18.08 K/9 and 75 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings.

New York Yankees

MVP: Aaron Judge
Best Pitcher: Gerrit Cole
Most Improved: Nestor Cortes
Best Rookie: Ron Marinaccio

Judge has been one of the key driving forces behind a juggernaut Yankees club. The star slugger tied Roger Maris' club-record 33 homers before the All-Star break. New York's rotation was supposed to be a question mark in 2022 but turned into a strength. The emergence of Cortes, who owns a 2.63 ERA with 1.00 WHIP, gives the team a formidable one-two punch with Cole.

Oakland Athletics

MVP: Paul Blackburn
Best Pitcher: Paul Blackburn
Most Improved: Sam Moll
Best Rookie: A.J. Puk

Blackburn has been a standout for the rebuilding A's after a rocky journey over the past four seasons, which included surgery to correct a broken forearm. The 28-year-old was named to his first All-Star team after a first half that included a team-leading six wins and 18 starts alongside a 3.62 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.

Philadelphia Phillies

MVP: Kyle Schwarber
Best Pitcher: Aaron Nola
Most Improved: Seranthony Dominguez
Best Rookie: Darick Hall

Schwarber has been exactly as advertised in his first season with the Phillies. With Bryce Harper on the shelf for an extended period of time, Schwarber’s prodigious power has helped keep the Phillies in the playoff picture. The hulking slugger has taken his turn leading off and is a threat to hit 50-plus homers for the first time in his career.

Pittsburgh Pirates

MVP: Bryan Reynolds
Best Pitcher: David Bednar
Most Improved: Jose Quintana
Best Rookie: Jack Suwinski

Even though he's now on the injured list, Reynolds was a no-brainer as the MVP. The 27-year-old has been their best hitter by just about every margin. Bednar, a first-time All-Star, has quietly been one of the best closers in baseball, surrendering just four homers in 43 2/3 innings. Quintana is a Comeback Player of the Year candidate having rediscovered his form after a downright awful 2021. Suwinski's still on the outside of the NL's crowded Rookie of the Year race, but his 14 homers in 250 plate appearances rank second on his team.

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San Diego Padres

MVP: Manny Machado
Best Pitcher: Joe Musgrove
Most Improved: Jorge Alfaro
Best Rookie: MacKenzie Gore

Machado isn't just angling for team MVP honors, he's in the running for the entire NL, helping keep the Tatis-less Padres afloat with an astounding .303/.377/.513 slash line, 15 homers, and seven stolen bases. This is already his most successful campaign by fWAR since joining the Padres four years ago. On the pitching side, Musgrove is pushing for a potential NL Cy Young. The righty was extremely strong in the first half of last year but even better now with a 2.42 ERA in 16 starts.

San Francisco Giants

MVP: Joc Pederson
Best Pitcher: Carlos Rodon
Most Improved: Austin Slater
Best Rookie: Luis Gonzalez

New recruits Pederson and Rodon lead the way with the former crushing 17 homers and boasting a career-best 135 wRC+ while the latter has continued to show the elite strikeout prowess that made him such a breakout star for the White Sox last year. In fact, only reigning NL Cy Young winner Burnes has a higher strikeout rate in the Senior Circuit. Meanwhile, Slater is now proving that his mind-blowing performance in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign might not have been an outlier. The 29-year-old outfielder is crushing opponents with a 150 wRC+, buoyed heavily by a .406 OBP (which ranks fourth among hitters with at least 100 plate appearances).

Seattle Mariners

MVP: Julio Rodriguez
Best Pitcher: Logan Gilbert
Most Improved: Erik Swanson
Best Rookie: Julio Rodriguez

Rodriguez has been one of baseball's most electric performers, excelling in all aspects of the game. The AL Rookie of the Year front-runner leads first-year players in homers, RBIs, hits, runs, doubles, and steals. He's also playing above-average defense in center field and established himself as a much-watch player following his performance in the Home Run Derby.

St. Louis Cardinals

MVP: Paul Goldschmidt
Best Pitcher: Miles Mikolas
Most Improved: Miles Mikolas/Ryan Helsley
Best Rookie: Brendan Donovan

Goldschmidt is the front-runner in the NL MVP race after turning in a dominant first half. Mikolas' resurgence as an All-Star has been critical to the Cardinals; he's a workhorse, owns a WHIP below one, and is walking very few batters. He also shares the Most Improved honors with Helsley, a first-time All-Star in the bullpen who's gone from average reliever to nearly untouchable - only three earned runs allowed in 39 innings. Donovan's on-base abilities and versatility make him stand out as the best of several very good Cardinals rookies.

Tampa Bay Rays

MVP: Shane McClanahan
Best Pitcher: Shane McClanahan
Most Improved: Isaac Paredes
Best Rookie: Shane Baz

McClanahan is the favorite to win the AL Cy Young thanks to a monster first half, posting a 1.71 ERA with 0.79 WHIP and 147 strikeouts over 18 starts (110 2/3 innings). The Rays also continue to turn water into wine. Paredes went deep 13 times in 51 games after two homers over 57 contests with the Tigers.

Texas Rangers

MVP: Corey Seager
Best Pitcher: Martin Perez
Most Improved: Jonah Heim
Best Rookie: Brock Burke

Perez has been one of the biggest surprises in baseball this season. The southpaw's 2.4 fWAR is already a career high and his 2.68 ERA and 3.13 FIP are far better than his previous career highs. The veteran lefty also leads qualified Rangers starters in wins and innings pitched while giving up a career-low 0.6 HR/9.

Toronto Blue Jays

MVP: Alejandro Kirk
Best Pitcher: Alek Manoah
Most Improved: Alejandro Kirk
Best Rookie: Max Castillo

Kirk and Manoah emerged as the biggest contributors on an underachieving club. The former turned into an All-Star catcher thanks to a .315/.395/.487 slash line with 11 homers over 83 games, while the latter amassed a 2.28 ERA with 0.95 WHIP over 18 starts (114 2/3 innings). The 24-year-old right-hander holds a .760 winning percentage since entering the majors last season.

Washington Nationals

MVP: Josh Bell
Best Pitcher: Josiah Gray
Most Improved: Carl Edwards Jr.
Best Rookie: Joan Adon

Bell has been more consistent than Juan Soto so far this season and will be a huge trade chip for the Nationals ahead of the deadline. The switch-hitting slugger paces the Nats in fWAR and RBIs while sitting second in wRC+ and home runs. There wasn't much competition in the best rookie department.

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Midseason awards for each MLB team
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