We've officially reached the halfway point of the Major League Baseball season, and despite injuries to nine different starting pitchers, the A's find themselves with the sixth best record in the American League at 43-38. It's time now to present our (very) unofficial team awards for the first half of the season.
Best Offensive Player: Jed Lowrie
(Honorable mention: Khris Davis, Matt Olson)
Lowrie has been the most consistent force in the A's lineup all season long. He leads the team in batting average (.291), on-base percentage (.349), slugging percentage (.494), hits (92), doubles (23), and RBI (54). He also ranks third on the team with 13 home runs. At the age of 34, Lowrie is having an All-Star season.
Best Defensive Player: Matt Chapman
(Honorable mention: Jed Lowrie, Jonathan Lucroy, Matt Olson, Stephen Piscotty)
Not a whole lot of drama here - Chapman is arguably the best defensive third baseman in all of baseball, and his 2.9 WAR leads the Athletics. Chapman makes difficult plays look routine and turns seemingly impossible plays into outs. Jed Lowrie, Jonathan Lucroy, Matt Olson, and Stephen Piscotty have all been excellent, but Chapman is simply at another level.
Best Starting Pitcher: Sean Manaea
(Honorable mention: Trevor Cahill, Daniel Mengden)
Manaea put together an incredible April, and after a difficult May has bounced back with a strong June. Manaea leads Oakland's starters in wins (7), strikeouts (75), innings pitched (100.2), and WHIP (0.96), and has a stellar ERA of 3.40. His no-hitter against the Red Sox certainly helps his case too. Manaea is the clear ace of this staff.
Best Relief Pitcher: Blake Treinen
(Honorable mention: Lou Trivino)
With all due respect to Lou Trivino, who has put up tremendous numbers of his own, Treinen has been arguably the best relief pitcher in all of baseball. The A's closer is 4-1 with a 0.93 ERA, converting 19 of his 21 save opportunities. Treinen leads the team in WHIP (0.88) and is second in opponents' batting average (.169). He has recorded 47 strikeouts in 38.2 innings, and his near-100 mph sinker might be the most unhittable pitch in baseball today.
Best Rookie: Lou Trivino
(Honorable mention: Dustin Fowler)
Here's where Trivino gets his recognition. The 26-year-old rookie has been phenomenal in his setup role, going 6-1 with a 1.64 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. Trivino has struck out 37 batters in 33 innings, allowing opponents to hit just .171. The combination of Trivino and Treinen has been as good as any tandem in the league.
Unsung Hero: Jonathan Lucroy
(Honorable mention: Mark Canha, Yusmeiro Petit, Chad Pinder)
Lucroy's .266 batting average ranks second on the team behind Jed Lowrie, but more importantly, he has helped the A's survive the rash of injuries to their starting rotation. Oakland has started 12 different pitchers this season, including some with little or no experience, and Lucroy has helped guide them to mostly strong performances. He has also thrown out 14 runners attempting to steal, tied for most in the majors.
Most Improved: Sean Manaea
(Honorable mention: Mark Canha, Frankie Montas, Blake Treinen)
It's not like Manaea was bad last season, but he has taken a huge step forward in his development this year. Manaea has chopped almost a full run off his ERA, going from 4.37 to 3.40, and he has lowered his WHIP from 1.40 to 0.96. After walking 55 batters in 158.2 innings last season, Manaea has issued just 19 bases on balls in 100.2 innings this year. Most importantly, he has embraced the role of ace at the young age of 26.
Most Valuable Player: Jed Lowrie
(Honorable mention: Khris Davis, Sean Manaea, Blake Treinen)
Here's the one you've all been waiting for. And it was a tough choice. Khris Davis, Sean Manaea, and Blake Treinen have all been crucial to the A's success this year. But the slight edge has to go to Jed Lowrie for his consistency and leadership. Lowrie has been the driving force in the lineup all season long, leading the team in just about every offensive category. His veteran presence in the clubhouse has been equally important, especially considering the A's youth. Lowrie has played in 79 of the team's 81 games, even filling in at third base recently for the injured Matt Chapman, and has committed just one error.