Tampa Bay Rays: First Half Awards
The Tampa Bay Rays spent much of the first half of the 2012 season using a patchwork lineup, due in large part to various injuries to key players from training camp forward. With that being said, the Rays are still contending for a wild-card spot and, should they get healthy here soon, could also contend for the American League (AL) East title. In this article, I plan to give who I think was the Rays' offensive MVP, Pitching MVP, Bullpen MVP and Unsung Hero for the first half (through July 19th games) of 2012. Just so you understand, finding an offensive MVP and Unsung Hero was quite difficult given the team’s injury woes and offensive struggles so I based my pick mainly on the number of runs that player batted in (RBIs), though I did look at their number of home runs, slugging and on-base percentage as well. Also, I decided that the offensive MVP had to play in at least 65 games as I believe the MVP should be helping the team, and not playing doesn't really help the team. Now that I've outlined my criteria, let's get started!
Offensive MVP: Luke Scott
Acquired this past offseason from the Baltimore Orioles, the Rays were hoping Scott could help boost an offense that struggled to score runs. Though Scott had his share of strikeouts (56), he also has 53 hits, 12 home runs, and leads the Rays with 45 RBI's in 67 games played. To complement that, Scott also has four stolen bases and has not yet been caught stealing, tied with right fielder Matt Joyce who just missed the cut in that regard (only 64 games played). Scott also has a .441 slugging percentage to go with his .225 batting average. All in all, Scott has done what he was brought in to do (score runs for the team) and that's why I've chosen him as the Rays' offensive MVP.
Pitching MVP: David Price
After struggling through much of the 2011 season no one, not even the Rays, knew what Price would do in 2012. In that regard, Price has given the Rays a pleasant surprise as he's just dominated hitters and been able to eat up innings for the most part, providing the bullpen with some rest. His numbers prove that as Price leads the starting rotation with 126 innings pitched, only allowing 11 home runs while chalking up 120 strikeouts. He also boasts a 2.64 earned run average (ERA), the lowest of all five starters, and has 13 wins to top the AL and is tied with the Mets' R.A. Dickey for the major league lead in wins. Price also just returned from his third consecutive All-Star Game where he worked a scoreless third inning. At almost 27 years old Price is quietly making a case for the AL MVP award but, for now, he easily gets my vote as the Rays pitching MVP.
Bullpen MVP: Fernando Rodney
Also acquired this past offseason, Rodney has quickly become a rock at the back-end of the bullpen for the Rays. His ERA of 0.86 is the best in the Rays bullpen and he's only allowed one home run while striking out 41 in 41.2 innings pitched. In the save department, Rodney is among the best in the majors with 27 saves in 28 opportunities. Rodney himself just returned from the All-Star Game as well where he pitched a scoreless ninth inning, though not in a save situation. Given the fact he eases the mind of manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey, not to mention the starters and fans, when he enters games it was fairly easy to choose him as the bullpen MVP.
Unsung Hero: Wade Davis
A starter last season, Davis lost out to Jeff Niemann in the battle for the final starters spot in spring training. Though surely a little disappointed, Davis decided to make the best of things and has proven to be a secret weapon coming out of the Rays bullpen. His 2.76 ERA and .204 opponents batting average is second only to Rodney among bullpen players with more than 20 games and he has chewed up a bunch of innings, 45.2 to be exact, to save other guys from being overworked. Another thing Davis has working in his favor is 50 strikeouts to lead the Rays bullpen. Davis is sure to find his way back into the Rays starting rotation at some point in the future but, at least right now, his team-first attitude and great statistics have led me to choose him as the Rays Unsung Hero.
Now that I've given you my first half awards I urge you to share who you think was the Rays' offensive, pitching, and bullpen MVP, along with your Unsung Hero during the first half of 2012. Now that the second half has begun let's hope the Rays can get contributions from other players and, of course, get players back from injury as that could make the playoff push and AL East race much more interesting to watch.
**All Tampa Bay Rays hitting statistics were found here: http://tampabay.rays.mlb.com/stats/sortable.jsp?c_id=tb#playerType=ALL&elem=[object+Object]&tab_level=child&click_text=Sortable+Player+hitting§ionType=sp&statType=hitting&page=1&ts=1342751383489&timeframe=&split=&last_x_days= **
**All Rays pitching statistics were found here: http://tampabay.rays.mlb.com/stats/sortable.jsp?c_id=tb#playerType=ALL&elem=[object+Object]&tab_level=child&click_text=Sortable+Player+pitching§ionType=sp&statType=pitching&page=1&ts=1342754525166&timeframe=&split=&last_x_days= **
*You can contact me, Lauren Burg, @TBLightning491 and Daily Shootout @DailyShootout. *