OF Nelson Cruz.
As of Sunday, when the Texas Rangers held on for a series victory over the Reds, the Rangers were at the midpoint of the MLB season, plus a game as they closed the Reds series at 82 games played with a 48-34 record.
With that said, we can look at the first half of the season, all the ups and downs and see some surprising names and some more expected ones carrying the new-look Rangers to a first-place post in the division and the American League's second-best record through the first half of the season.
Nelson Cruz — There was a big cloud of doubt hanging over Cruz when the season began. For one, and most obviously, there was the concern of a possible suspension due to his alleged involvement with Biogenesis PED snafu. Secondly, Cruz is on the aging side and is highly inconsistent. But this year, he's been pretty consistent, and most importantly, healthy. He's lead the new-look, less powerful Rangers with 20 homers and 61 RBIs and is hitting a respectable .271. When Lance Berkman hit a skid, Cruz was given a shot in the 3-hole and he's responded nicely and seems to have taken to the role pretty well.
Yu Darvish — There are several strong candidates here with Joe Nathan, Robbie Ross and Neal Cotts all coming to mind, as well. But Darvish has been the one consistent force in the Rangers' starting rotation with the exception of one or two bad outings. But for the most part, even when he wasn't winning in a seven-start stretch, he was still good. Every time he takes the mound, he gives his team a solid chance to win and he's established himself as a bona fide ace with an 8-3 record and a 2.78 ERA with a world-leading 151 strikeouts.
Adrian Beltre — This is no surprise. The team's postseason MVP last year is also the team's MVP this season, and he probably will be the team's MVP as long as he's in a Rangers uniform and can walk. Beltre, who never shies away from playing injured, is a gold-glove third baseman and despite some recent struggles at the plate is a consistent force in the cleanup spot. He's hitting .296 with 14 homers and 42 RBIs.
Elvis Andrus — David Murphy is another candidate here, but people had their rightful reservations as to whether Murphy could be an everyday player in the bigs. Andrus is supposed to be franchise cornerstone, and until very recently he hasn't played like it. He's recently started to swing a good bat but has endured a season-long slump after signing a big extension after the Rangers' season-opening loss to Houston.