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First-Half Awards

Who's been the best of the best so far? Tom Verducci has the answers


MVP Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs. He's kept injury-riddled Chicago in contention and has sparked talk of a Triple Crown (.388, 22 home runs, 64 RBIs at week's end).

CY YOUNG AWARD Roger Clemens, RHP, Astros. Among his amazing numbers: a 1.51 ERA, 17 earned runs (none on the road) in 15 starts, a .096 batting average against with runners in scoring position and a combined five extra-base hits allowed to the 1 through 4 hitters. The most amazing number of all: He turns 43 in August.

MANAGER OF THE YEAR Frank Robinson, Nationals. Why is a team that lost 95 games last year and has been outscored this year in first place? The manager is a good place to start. Robinson keeps the Nats playing hard every inning; his team has been great in one-run games (18--7) and has 26 come-from-behind wins.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR Clint Barmes, SS, Rockies. Barmes hasn't played since breaking his collarbone on June 5, but he still leads all rookies in hits, runs and RBIs.

ROOKIE PITCHER OF THE YEAR Brad Halsey, LHP, Diamondbacks. Halsey (4--6, 4.23 ERA), the former 17-game winner in the Yankees' system who was acquired in the Randy Johnson trade, gets the edge over Rockies lefthander Jeff Francis.

BEST CLOSER Chad Cordero, RHP, Nationals. Two years ago he was closing for Cal State--Fullerton; now Chief leads the majors in saves (25). Other than three solo homers, he has allowed one run-scoring hit all year.

BEST FREE-AGENT ADDITION Pedro Martinez, RHP, Mets. Martinez has left with a lead in all but four of his 15 starts, has nearly six times as many strikeouts as walks and has been money at the box office.

WORST FREE-AGENT ADDITION Eric Milton, LHP, Reds. Cincinnati can't survive big-money mistakes like this one. Milton (three years, $25.5 million) ranked second to last among 111 qualifiers in ERA (7.70), while serving up the most home runs (27, threatening Bert Blyleven's record of 50 gopher balls).


MVP Miguel Tejada, SS, Orioles. Given his position, his power (19 homers) and the boundless energy he brings to the surprise AL East contenders, he's the game's premier indispensable player.

CY YOUNG AWARD Roy Halladay, RHP, Blue Jays. Only six pitchers have won a second Cy Young by age 28: Denny McLain, Tom Seaver, Bret Saberhagen, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux and Pedro Martinez. With a masterly combination of precision (15 walks in 16 starts) and power (91 strikeouts), Halladay could be the next.

MANAGER OF THE YEAR Ozzie Guillen, White Sox. He's made the resourceful Sox (20--8 in one-run games) fun to watch, especially in the late innings.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR Tadahito Iguchi, 2B, White Sox. He's been as steady as advertised--actually, better. A .271 career hitter in Japan, Iguchi was hitting .287 at week's end with a solid .347 OBP.

ROOKIE PITCHER OF THE YEAR Chris Young, RHP, Rangers. How tough is it for any pitcher, never mind a rookie, to fashion a 3.21 ERA for Texas, whose home park is known to be hitter-friendly? No Ranger with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title has finished a season with a mark that low since Nolan Ryan's 2.91 in 1991.

BEST CLOSER Mariano Rivera, RHP, Yankees. Incomparable. Since allowing two earned runs in his first two appearances, Rivera has allowed just one in 27 innings (0.33 ERA).

BEST FREE-AGENT ADDITION Matt Clement, RHP, Red Sox. Boston made the best choice from last winter's well-stocked midlevel starting pitcher market. Clement (9--1, 3.33) has prospered with catcher Jason Varitek.

WORST FREE-AGENT ADDITION Tony Womack, OF, Yankees. Womack (two years, $4 million) has a very digestible contract for the Yankees, but he also has the majors' worst slugging percentage (.265, on five extra-base hits, including just one since April 26) and fifth-worst on-base percentage (.273). ■