Upon arriving at the 2017 All-Star break, we have something that hasn't been seen in almost 50 years: Two teams have hit the 60-win mark.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are 61-29 and the Houston Astros are 60-29. The last time there have been a pair of 60-win teams at the end of the first half was 1969, when the Baltimore Orioles were 65-31 and the Chicago Cubs were 61-37.
Los Angeles has outscored opponents by 163 runs, and Houston has outscored foes by 162. Still, there are differences.
Pitching is the primary ingredient for the Dodgers, who have an ERA of 3.15. They've held opponents to one run or fewer in 22 games (all wins), including nine shutouts.
In this season where homers are being hit at a record pace, Houston is the poster child with an major league-high 148. The Astros have scored 10 runs or more a whopping 14 times (all wins) and average a phenomenal 5.9 runs per game.
Records at the break, however, predict nothing. In 1969, the Cubs didn't make the playoffs and the Orioles lost the World Series to the New York Mets. The 2001 Seattle Mariners had 63 wins at the break, finished with 116 victories and didn't reach the World Series.
Nothing's settled, and that includes the winners of this season's big awards. But it's a good time to take stock of them.
These would be the choices right now:
American League MVP
The Astros have three great candidates in Carlos Correa, George Springer and Jose Altuve, and yet none of them is keeping pace with New York Yankees rookie outfielder Aaron Judge. The 6-foot-7, 282-pounder is baseball's biggest sensation. He hits the ball harder and farther than anyone (something we know thanks to Statcast), and he is vying for the lead in all the Triple Crown categories. Judge hit his major league-best 30th home run on Friday to break Joe DiMaggio's franchise record for homers by a rookie. His 66 RBIs are second in the league and his .329 average is fourth.
The top five: 1. Judge, 2. Correa, 3. Springer, 4. Altuve, 5. Mike Trout (Angels).
American League Cy Young Award
The Boston Red Sox paid a hefty price in the offseason to get Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox; they parted with a package of minor leaguers headed by the major leagues' top prospect, infielder Yoan Moncada, and their top minor league pitcher, Michael Kopech.
The investment has paid off in a very big way. In 18 starts, the lefty is 11-4 with a 2.75 ERA, 178 strikeouts and 22 walks in an AL-high 127 2/3 innings. Given the way he dominates hitters (14 games with nine or more strikeouts), Sale gets the nod over the Kansas City Royals' Jason Vargas, who is 12-3 with a 2.62 ERA,
American League Rookie of the Year
Judge has annihilated the projection of Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi for this award.
Judge is completely transformed from the player that last season had 42 strikeouts in 84 at-bats.
Judge has been incredibly disciplined at the plate, drawing 61 walks toward a .448 on-base percentage and his 1.139 OPS leads all hitters.
Benintendi's good season -- a .279 average with 12 homers and 51 RBIs -- has been completely obscured.
The top three: 1. Judge, 2. Benintendi, 3. Ben Gamel (Mariners).
American League Manager of the Year
The Minnesota Twins' Paul Molitor has piloted a team that was in full rebuilding mode into contention for a playoff spot. The Twins were actually atop the AL Central for most of the first half. It's hard to believe Minnesota lost 103 games last season.
National League MVP
The nod right now goes to Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks over Bryce Harper of the Nationals in a squeaker. Goldschmidt has twice been the runner up for the MVP and his stellar season is helping the D-backs take a strong position for reaching the postseason. The first baseman is hitting .312 with 20 homers, 67 RBIs, 13 stolen bases and a 1.005 OPS. Harper is hitting .325 with 20 homers, 65 RBIs and a 1.021 OPS as he vies for a second MVP.
National League Cy Young Award
Scherzer has won a pair of Cy Young Awards and this is could be his best season yet. He is 10-5 with a 2.10 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and has 178 strikeouts in 128 1/3 innings. Kershaw has started one more game and is 14-2 with a 2.18 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 153 strikeouts in 159 strikeouts in 132.1 innings.
National League Rookie of the Year
Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger is running away with this one in the same way Judge is running off in the AL.
Bellinger's re-tooled swing -- one that seeks to get more balls airborne -- has resulted in an impressive 25 home runs to go with 58 RBIs and a .961 OPS.
The top three: 1. Bellinger, 2. Josh Bell (Pirates), 3. Kyle Freeland (Rockies).
National League Manager of the Year
Tabbed to finish at or near the bottom of the NL Central, the Brewers are 50-41 and 5 1/2 games ahead of the defending World Series champion Cubs.
Torey Lovullo of the Diamondbacks and Bud Black of the Rockies both have overseen turnarounds that have their teams in playoff contention and should be part of the conversation.
The top three: 1. Counsell, 2. Lovullo (Diamondbacks), 3. Black (Rockies).