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7.06.2006

First Half MVPs 

I'm a few games late, as the Giants just played their 86th game of the year. But it's never too late for kudos, as they say in Thessaloniki. (Or is that "kudo"?) Here are my picks for team MVPs, broken down by category:

MVP of the Lineup: No one's been more consistent at doing exactly what's expected of him than Omar Vizquel. He's played nearly every game, hit at the top of the order, and gotten on base to the tune of .381. That puts him 22nd in National League OBP, not exactly startling. But it's more impressive considering most of the hitters ahead of him are sluggers who often get pitched around. Without Omar in the lineup every day, the Giants score an average of 1.4 runs per game, according to my calculations. Runner-Up: I'm tempted to say Pedro Feliz, but despite his decent power numbers he still makes far too many outs. The real runner-up is Barry Bonds, who runs as if he wears an eyepatch and a parrot on his shoulder, looks foolish on outside changeups, but remains one of the top-10 most potent NL outfielders.

MVP of the Glove: I love watching Steve Finley crash into walls and run faster than a naked frat boy across the campus green, but only 3 errors in 342 chances at a crucial defensive position means more first-half hardware for Omar Vizquel.

MVP of the Rotation: Jason Schmidt. Who would have thought he'd return to top form after last year's disaster? Dude leads the majors in ERA (thanks to Francisco Liriano not quite qualifying, but we won't pick at that scab). Runner-up: Jamey Wright in April and May, Matt Morris in June and July.

MVP of the Bullpen: Can we nickname Brad Hennessey "Job"? That's the Biblical guy, not the thing you hate to go to every Monday. Hennessey has shown amazing patience as the long man and spot starter, and he's perservered with beautiful results. His spot start last weekend against the Padres was an absolute gut-check after two ugly losses to the division leader. His relief work tonight was another game-saver after Matt Cain did his best Nuke LaLoosh impression. If Jamey Wright continues to realize he's Jamey Wright, it'll be awfully tough to keep Hennessey out of the rotation in the second half. Runner-up: The fashionable pick would be Jeremy Accardo, but the kid's blown hot and cold. I'm tempted to say 'Mando because he's gotten his stuff back and is throwing reasonably well in the face of extreme home-crowd hostility. But I'm going with Kevin Correia, who has quietly put together an excellent season. Honorable mention goes to Jonathan Sanchez, whom I promise to name 2006 Bullpen MVP if he goes the whole season without giving up a run.

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