The first half of the season is over and the Orioles are predictably on their way to another losing season, although unlike in some years past, I don't really mind. It's losing with a direction. This team has shown flashes of brilliance in between the blunders and the team's new identity is taking shape. It's a good time to be an Orioles fan.
It almost sounds ridiculous to say this about a team that is 40-48, but there have been a lot of things to be happy about so far this season. Matt Wieters, of course, but also the emergence of Nolan Reimold and Brad Bergesen as impact players on the roster. David Hernandez has shown us good things, Robert Andino proved more valuable than Hayden Penn, and Adam Jones is an All Star (and a legit one despite being the only O).
In spite of all those things, I have to give my vote for first half MVO to Luke Scott. Before the season even started Luke Scott lost his job to Felix Pie and was informed that DH was his new home. He wasn't happy, but he did it without complaint. It was also hinted at that he'd share playing time with Ty Wigginton, with Wiggy taking on tough lefties. That had to sting, but he took it in stride.
Now, 88 games into the season, Luke Scott is by far the best hitter on this team and one of the best hitters in the major leagues. He goes into the All Star Break batting .305/.384/.592 and his OPS+ of 149 is tops on the team. Adam Jones is 2nd at at distant 116. He's cranked 18 home runs in just 263 plate appearances (his time on the DL set him back a bit). That's a pace of one HR per 14.61 PA. Not bad. Of the 27 other major leaguers who have 18 or more HR, only Albert Pujols (12.06) and Raul Ibanez (13.14) have hit HR at a faster pace this year.
Luke's .976 OPS is fourth in the AL behind Joe Mauer, Ben Zobrist, and Kevin Youkilis (>200 PA), and his .592 SLG is third behind just Mauer and Zobrist. FanGraphs shows Luke's worth so far this year as $7.7M, tops on the Orioles (his salary this year is $2.4M), and he leads the team in VORP at 26.5. Compared to other DHs around the league, only Adam Lind is ranked higher in those two measurements.
And how about those tough lefties that Wigginton was supposed to help him with? Luke is demolishing them. He is batting .333/.538/.720 with 8 HR against left handed pitchers this year, making him pretty much unstoppable.
In addition to all of Luke's sparkly statistics, there is also the fact that he is just a joy to watch. He's happy to be an Oriole, thrilled to be playing baseball, great with the younger players, and his attitude can't be beat. Those aren't the sort of things that should be taken into account for this purpose, obviously, but it just makes him that much more awesome.
An argument can be made for a few other players so far this year, notably Brad Bergesen and Adam Jones with a few courtesy votes to George Sherrill or Jim Johnson. But it's hard to top Luke. Do you think any other Oriole is more deserving of the MVO at this point in the season? If so respond in the comments and we'll duke it out.