The list of players who were the most valuable on their team through the first half of the 2014 baseball season includes usual suspects such as Andrew McCutchen, Troy Tulowitzki, Paul Goldschmidt, Felix Hernandez and David Price.
As with every season, though, a crop of players emerged as though out of the corn stalks in "Field of Dreams" to rise to prominence.
Utility man Brock Holt bounced up and down between the Boston Red Sox and Triple-A Pawtucket throughout April, getting sent down the second time even though he was batting .348. When he finally returned in mid-May, he became a lineup mainstay (albeit at multiple positions) and a reliable leadoff man.
Who foresaw right-hander Alfredo Simon making the Cincinnati Reds' rotation — let alone emerging as a top performer'
Here are the first-half MVPs of all 30 teams as determined by The Sports Xchange's correspondents in every city:
1B Paul Goldschmidt posted the best offensive numbers in the National League in 2013 -- you could look it up -- and he had an even better first half this year. He leads the majors with 36 doubles and is the only player with at least 25 doubles and 15 homers at the break. He is doing that despite constant interference from opposing managers -- he walked 26 times in his past 23 games, continuing a trend that began in the second half of what easily could have been an MVP season in 2013.
SS Troy Tulowitzki is one of the best players in the game this season, one who can impact a game on both offense and defense. He stayed healthy, unlike some past seasons, thanks to a very disciplined diet and exercise routine, and he is putting together what could turn out to be his best year. He is hitting .345 with 21 home runs and 52 RBIs along with a .435 on-base percentage and a .613 slugging percentage and nearly as many walks (48) as strikeouts (55). At Coors Field, Tulowitzki is batting an otherworldly .417/.497/.748 with 14 home runs in 163 at-bats compared to a more pedestrian .265/.367/.463 on the road with seven homers in 147 at-bats. Tulowitzki also is routinely brilliant in the field.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
When LHP Clayton Kershaw had a very uncharacteristic start in Arizona on May 17 (allowing seven runs in just 12/3 innings), the Dodgers were just two games over .500 and trailed the San Francisco Giants in the NL West by four games. Since then, Kershaw has had one of the most dominant runs of any pitcher in years -- 9-1, 0.97 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 74 innings with a no-hitter and a 41-inning scoreless streak. Pitching will be key for the Dodgers in the second half, and Kershaw is critical to that.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
There is a reason why 6-foot-5 RHP Tyson Ross made the National League All-Star team. He allowed one or fewer earned runs in 10 of his 20 starts and two or fewer earned runs in 14 starts. However, the Padres scored two or fewer runs (including zero four times) in 11 of his starts. That explains the 7-10 record despite a 2.85 ERA. And he's getting better. Ross has a 1.75 ERA over his last five starts -- and a 1-4 record.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
CF Angel Pagan scored about half as many runs as RF Hunter Pence and drove in less than half as many as LF Michael Morse. However, only two numbers matter when you seek to determine Pagan's value to the Giants: .667 and .455. The former was the Giants' best-in-baseball winning percentage on the day Pagan's back began bothering him. The latter is the Giants' winning percentage since then. Pagan, who is hitting .307 with 11 steals in 63 games, hopes to return immediately after the All-Star break.