Now that the All Star Game has been played it means that it is time for another second half surge by the Twins to an AL Central Championship. There are many story lines to follow in the second half; Jim Thome’s quest for 600 home runs, Bert Blyleven’s Hall of Fame induction and trade deadline talk. Before we get into all of that…..let’s reflect on the first half. Here are my first half awards:
Most Valuable Player: Michael Cuddyer
With injuries galore in the first half, it makes you wonder where the Twins would be without All Star Michael Cuddyer. He has played RF, 1B, 2B and 3B this season, filling in wherever Gardenhire asked him to. After a slow start to the season, Cuddyer has been red hot at the plate and been a threat in the middle of the lineup. He is batting .298/.369/.474 with 13 HR and 43 RBI so far this season.
Best Starting Pitcher: Scott Baker
Scott Baker has quietly become the ace of the Twins pitching staff. He seems to have finally figured things out and the Twins will be looking for big things in the second half. Baker has a different attitude this year. He seems disgusted when he is not able to complete a game, showing that he wants the ball and expects to dominate on the mound. It is a confidence we have not always seen from Baker in the past. He is starting to live up to his “Big Spot Scott” nickname. In the first half, Baker (7-5) has a 3.01 ERA with a 1.175 WHIP and 104 strikeouts.
Best Relief Pitcher: Glen Perkins
This off season; the Twins lost a majority of their bullpen arms from last season. Many including the Twins front office did not know how this years bullpen would look, much less perform. Early in the season, it was disaster. Joe Nathan lost his closers job and landed on the DL, Matt Capps has had a very tough time closing games and many of the pitchers called up have not performed close to expectations. One that has exceeded his expectations is Perkins. A career starter; Perkins was moved to the bullpen in Spring Training. His velocity is way up and he is looking filthy on the mound right now. He has recorded 2 saves and without a doubt the Twins will be turning to him much more in high pressure situations down the stretch. Perkins (0-1) has a microscopic 1.87 ERA this season with 1.188 WHIP and 9.6 K/9.
Rookie of the Year: Ben Revere
After earning a call up early in the season, Revere was sent back down to AAA with hopes of making it back soon. After more injuries for the Twins, Revere was called back up and does not appear to be heading back anytime soon. Revere has provided the spark the Twins needed both on the base paths and in the field. His range in CF has helped the pitchers out and his ability to get on base and cause havoc has created more RBI opportunities for the hitters. Revere will be tested in the second half as more base runners will be running on his weak arm and pitchers will start to figure him out, it will be interesting to see if he is able to make the adjustments and keep the Twins in the hunt for another division championship.
The second half of the season kicks off tomorrow night at Target Field against the Kansas City Royals. Fransisco Liriano will take the mound, looking to get the Twins off to a good start. I will be attending the game and posting some pictures here on Twins Focus afterwards.