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It’s time to dole out a few unconventional midseason baseball awards

 The Associated Press  |    Jul 1st, 2024 6:01am EDT

The major league season has passed its halfway point — in terms of games, not the All-Star break — so award speculation is going to heat up. First-half MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year talk will be plentiful.

Here’s another collection of slightly less formal midseason awards:

Healthiest Home Run Celebration: Baltimore’s “hydration station” — basically a set of hoses that the batter and baserunners can drink from after a homer — has been put to plenty of use this season. The Orioles have added the long ball to an offense that already had plenty of athleticism and line drive hitters. Baltimore leads the major leagues with 139 home runs after hitting 60 last month, one off the major league record by a team in June.

Most Effective McDonald’s Mascot: Who knew cheap fast food was the key to success for the New York Mets’ pricey roster? Grimace threw out the first pitch at their game June 12, and it was the start of a seven-game winning streak. Skeptics of the power of purple might point out that New York actually started playing better a few days earlier, when the Mets won three straight at Washington from June 3-5 and then split their London series with Philadelphia. In any case, New York has won 16 of its last 22.

Most Gracious Divisional Rival: The AL Central could put three teams in the postseason this year, and credit is certainly due to Cleveland, Minnesota and Kansas City for what they’ve done so far. They can also thank the Chicago White Sox, who are 38 games under .500 and, more importantly, 6-21 against the rest of the division. Chicago has actually done OK against first-place Cleveland, but the White Sox are 0-7 against the Twins and 1-6 against the Royals. It’s no coincidence that if the season ended now, those two teams would be wild cards.

The Best Revenge Is Living Well Honor: Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell left the Brewers to take over the rival Chicago Cubs in a huge offseason move. The jilted Brewers — even after trading ace Corbin Burnes — are 6 1/2 games in front in the NL Central. And that’s over St. Louis. They lead the last-place Cubs by 11 1/2.


Which team had the worst divisional record in major league history?


Wyatt Langford of the Texas Rangers became the first major leaguer this season to hit for the cycle in an 11-2 victory over Baltimore on Sunday night.


The sputtering Toronto Blue Jays are showing little sign of turning it around. They led 6-2 at Boston on Monday night before allowing four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Then in the bottom of the ninth, Ceddanne Rafaela reached on an error and then scored on Jarren Duran’s single for a 7-6 Boston victory. The Red Sox had a win probability of 2.5% in the bottom of the eighth, according to Baseball Savant.


Since divisional play started in 1969, the worst record within a division belongs to the 2022 Washington Nationals, who went 17-59 against the NL East for a winning percentage of .224. The White Sox are currently at .222.

(Like the AL Central at the moment, that 2022 NL East included three playoff teams, with the Mets and Atlanta winning 101 games each.)


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

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The Associated Press