With Major League Baseball’s best heading to the Twin Cities this week for the 85th MLB All Star Game, the first half of the season is officially in the books. And what a year of Detroit Tigers baseball this has been. While there has been the occasional moment of wanting to bash your TV screen in with a tire iron, there have been just as many moments in which you’re proud to call yourself a Tigers fan. Heading into the halfway point with a 53-38 record, the Tigers sit comfortably atop the AL Central with a 6.5 game lead over the Kansas City Royals. To say the least, this season thus far has been one to remember. With many new faces and an entirely different managerial approach to the game, the excitement never seems to end.
But this success could not even be possible had some Tigers players not went above and beyond their ability to bring victory to Detroit. And with that, the question is posed..Who is the Tigers MVP for the first half of the season? Just a quick heads up, it’s not Alex Gonzalez.
At first thought, the answer seems simple. But as the statistics and season defining moments trickle into your cranium, the answer might not be as apparent. Every player brings something different to the game. But in case you forgot, the acronym “MVP” stands Most Valuable Player, meaning a player that the team could just not get the job done without. That being said, there’s only five players that I see being worthy of that title; Miguel Cabrera, JD Martinez, Rick Porcello, Victor Martinez, and Ian Kinsler. These five individuals have brought more to the team and have had a bigger influence on the outcome of games due to their play than the rest.
So let’s get to the bottom of this….
Rick Porcello and Miguel Cabrera are up first. Porcello is having the best season of his career with a 12-5 record, 3.39 ERA, and 45 ER’s over 119.1 IP. Cabrera is also having a fantastic year. In other news, Howie Mandel is bald. 14 HR’s, a .306 BA, 34 doubles (AL Leader), and 75 RBI. The case is strong for both of these men as much of the teams success can be attributed to them. Cabrera is just a god amongst mortals, but his power numbers are down a bit and his strikeouts are up, having only struck out 94 times last year, Miguel already has 59. Though defensively, Cabrera is in the midst of one of his best defensive year since 2009 with a .994 fielding percentage.
A recent All Star snub, Porcello leads the team in wins and has also thrown 2 complete game shutouts (back to back; no easy feat). And though he doesn’t strike out many batters, that’s just not the type of pitcher he is. He’s a ground ball out pitcher. The case working against Porcello is that he is a pitcher and only plays every five games as where the other candidates play nearly every day. Also, Porcello would not have anywhere near the success he does had there not been such a stellar defense behind him. Don’t get me wrong the guy can pitch but he owes much of his success to his defense.
JD Martinez didn’t play a game in a Tigers uniform until being called up on April 21st. And even then, he wasn’t an everyday player. But then once the playing time increased, so did the production; JD has been on an absolute tear, even garnering an AL Player of the Week award. Sporting a .346 BA through 205 plate appearances is impressive, as is his 65 hits in such a limited number of plate appearances. But what is even more incredible is that of those 65 hits, 31 have been for extra bases. His 13 HR’s are only outdone by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. But the idea that he hasn’t played all the games this first half of the season hurts his case.
Moving on, Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez have been absolute studs this year. Both are tearing the cover off the ball; Victor leads the team in BA (.328), HR (21), and OBP (.337). At one point in time, the amount of home runs he hit eclipsed the number of strikeouts he had. As far as production at the plate goes, Victor is among the game’s best this season. But what knocks him out of the first half MVP race is that he has no defense to his name. And that’s not his fault; he’s a DH (a pretty good one at that). But the point is that it’s hard to say Victor Martinez is more valuable than some of the other candidates as where they play defense and hit and he only hits.
As for Kinsler, he is having one of the best years of his career. After a bitter exit from the Texas Rangers and a poor performance last season, many fans didn’t know what to expect. But he has showed us all that he can go above and beyond when playing the game of baseball. A defensive showcase, Kinsler knows how to flash the leather at 2nd base. Out of 390 total chances to make a play he has only two errors. Kinsler also sports a .995 fielding percentage. And looking at this hitting, things are stellar as well. A .303 BA, 11 HR’s, 26 doubles and just 41 SO’s in 379 PA.
The case for these five players is strong but when it comes down to it, Ian Kinsler is your first half MVP. The guy does it all; he hits, fields, runs and brings some much needed energy to the club. He makes the team so much better in every aspect as he has brought more this season than any other player; and that’s not just an opinion, the numbers are hard to argue. Fans can feel relaxed when he is at the plate and be rest assured that he will make the play in the field. All the other candidates are having great years but Kinsler has simply been the Most Valuable Player to the Tigers through the first half of the season.