MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays


Trout, Bellinger lead the pack at MLB’s halfway point.

THE RED SOX AND YANKEES have flown across the pond. NBA free agency starts Sunday night, the NHL the next day. And the MLB season is at the unofficial midway point.

Time for some awards.

AL MVP: Mike Trout; D.J. LeMahieu; Jorge Polanco

We don’t see a lot of what he does because it’s out west and late at night and people around here love to say Mookie Betts is the best player in baseball, but through Wednesday Trout was hitting .303 with 22 homers, 56 RBIs, a 1.090 OPS, .461 on-base percentage and 5.2 WAR. ’Nuf said?

Quietly, LeMahieu and Houston’s Michael Brantley have been the best free agent additions of the offseason. Polanco has led the Twins to their great start.

NL MVP: Cody Bellinger; Christian Yelich; Josh Bell

How close was this? Bellinger was at .354 with 26 homers, 63 RBIs, a 1.163 OPS and eight stolen bases and Yelich, the defending winner, was hitting .332 with 29/63, a 1.149 OPS and 17 steals.

Bell’s .310/21/68/1.020 has kept the Pirates afloat.

AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander; Mike Minor; Jake Odorizzi

Verlander was 10-3 with a 2.67 ERA, getting the nod over the surging Minor. Verlander continues to show he owns the Yankees, which could mean plenty in the postseason. Minor was 8-4 with a 2.40 ERA with the Rangers. Think about a 2.40 ERA in the DH league. Odorizzi is thriving in Minnesota.

NL Cy Young: Hyun-Jin Ryu; Walker Buehler; Kirby Yates

Dodger flavor here. Ryu is 9-1 with a ridiculous 1.27 ERA and Buehler is 8-1 with a 2.96 ERA (Clayon Kershaw hasn’t been bad, either). Yates just blew his first save for the Padres and was 26-for-27 through Wednesday.

AL Rookie: Brandon Lowe; Michael Chavis; John Means

When the Rays signed Lowe to a long-term contract, the press release had to tell us Lowe rhymed with “wow” and not “low” (like Derek Lowe). Now, we know his name and he was hitting .279 with 15 homers and 47 RBIs. That beat out Chavis (.263, 12/35/.785). Means gets third because any pitcher 6-4 with a 2.67 ERA for the dreadful Orioles deserves mention.

NL Rookie: Pete Alonso; Mike Soroka; Fernando Tatis Jr.

Alonso has already broken the Mets record for homers by a rookie and was at .281 with 27/61 and a 1.004 OPS through Wednesday. Soroka was at 8-1 with a 2.07 ERA for the Braves and Tatis was at .327 with 9/25 in 45 games.

AL Manager: Rocco Baldelli; Aaron Boone; Chris Woodward

Rhode Islander Baldelli, in his first year as a skipper, has the Twins well in front in the Central. Boone has held the Yankees together with duct tape and Woodward, also a rookie, has sparkled in Texas.

NL Manager: Dave Roberts; Brian Snitker; Don Mattingly

This was a tough one. Roberts has the best roster and the Dodgers are having a season like the Red Sox had in 2018. Snitker’s Braves are loaded with young pitching — and while the Marlins are bad, Mattingly has them tough to play against.

Walking in?

With NBA free agency starting, the Celtics had emerged as the reported favorites in the hunt to bring Kemba Walker to Boston.

The former UConn star would be the replacement for Kyrie Irving, with the Celtics looking bigger to come in for Al Horford. Nikola Vucevic? Steven Adams? Enes Kanter?

Jim Calhoun, who coached Walker at UConn, told Bill Burt of the Lawrence (Mass.) Eagle-Tribune the fit for Walker in Boston is perfect.

“Kemba is a winner. He is a winner,” said Calhoun, who calls Walker a “smiling assassin.” “He won in high school. His AAU team was incredible. He was on two Final Four teams with us. He’s already proven he’s a great player and he’s going to be a very wealthy man wherever he goes. But he wants to win. He wants to compete for a championship.”

Walker averaged a career-high 25.6 points per game, adding 5.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game for Charlotte last season. For his career, he is at 19.8 points, 5.5 assists and 3.8 rebounds. He has averaged 20.1/5.2/3.8 in his career against the Celtics.

While Walker and whatever big guy come to Boston are the big names and contracts, what about an Isaiah Thomas return? The Celtics could do worse than bringing this guy off the bench.

Thomas is finally healthy and told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “Nobody knew what to expect with me coming off hip surgery last year, and two summers of rehab. Now I can go back to being a gym rat this summer, work on my game again and build my body back up — my muscle mass, my leg strength — all like I had going into the 2017 season.”

On Twitter, Thomas said, “All I need is one chance!!! Legit chance tho.... I’ll do the rest!!”

As far as who is going where in the NBA, reports were changing almost by the minute and we should have more Sunday. But on Thursday, Anthony Davis waived his $4 million trade kicker, and the Lakers shipped three spare parts and a draft pick to Washington and will have a $32 million max to offer. If they don’t get a max player, they can split the $32 million among others.

Also Thursday, LeBron James said he’ll give Davis his No. 23.

Kawhi Leonard will meet with both Los Angeles teams and the Raptors; and Kevin Durant, who opted out with the Warriors (and still could go back there) sold his California home and bought one in New York, so read whatever you want into that.

Overseas talk

The Yankees and Red Sox both played 8-7 games before getting on their charters for London, ending with different results.

The Yankees, who have again lost Giancarlo Stanton — this time until August — fell behind 5-0, tied it, fell behind 6-5, took the lead, the Blue Jays tied it in the ninth (Aroldis Chapman was unavailable after saving two straight) and New York walked it off.

I think you know what happened in Boston, where Matt Barnes coughed it up and left the “We don’t need a closer” Red Sox 17-for-33 in save chances. Barnes is 4-for-10.

The win and Tampa Bay’s loss had the Yankees hitting the UK seven games ahead in the AL East, with the Red Sox nine games out, 10 on the loss side. The Sox were also a game out of the wild card.

Yes, it’s early.

Interesting note on the games in England: 340 tons of clay was brought in from Slippery Rock, Pa., and the artificial turf came from France.

Thought you might want to know that.


Thanks to the reader who pointed out Buehler struck out 16 and walked NONE in a game last week. A typo had him walking nine, which would have meant he threw like a million pitches.

Finally, Chris Sale hasn’t won a regular-season game at Fenway since last July. “For some reason I (stink) here,” he said after Wednesday’s shaky outing.

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.