This has been a strange baseball season, one that has yielded unlikely candidates for regular season awards. The American League Cy Young race is between two unlikely contenders. On the National League side it will go to the guy who couldn’t lose, then couldn’t win and now can’t lose again. The MVP races are anyone’s guess but they could go to a pair of guys who might win 2/3 of the Triple Crown or to a pair of rising young stars who will dominate the game for the next decade. The best player in baseball (in my opinion), Mike Trout with an 8.8 WAR and .319/25/84 line isn’t even in the discussion because the dreadful Angels are 59-74.
For the other smaller awards I think they’re pretty straight forward. Corey Seager of the Dodgers is a lock for NL Rookie of the Year with Diaz and Story finishing behind him. On the American League side I think Michael Fulmer (10-5, 2.69) is the leader in the clubhouse but don’t think Gary Sanchez’s accomplishments are overlooked. For Manager of the Year, I’m giving that award to Buck Showalter and Dusty Baker. Comeback Players of the Year go to Ian Desmond in the AL and Wil Myers in the NL.
As I mentioned above the race seems that it will come down to whoever pitches better in September, Rick Porcello or J.A. Happ. Let’s start with Porcello who has been unbeatable for the Boston Red Sox at home. No really, he’s 13-0 this season at Fenway Park with a 3.03 ERA in 14 starts. On the road in 13 starts he’s 5-3 with a respectable 3.49 ERA. Opposition are only hitting .234 against him and his only downfall has been the long ball which he’s allowed 20 home runs in 179 innings. It’s been an amazing turn around for a pitcher who went 9-15 last season in Boston with a 4.92 ERA.
The Blue Jays’ J.A. Happ is right there neck and neck with Porcello, he’s currently 17-4 with a 3.23 ERA. Prior to his last two starts, which he lost, Happ was on a streak of winning 12 straight decisions. Unlike Porcello he’s been equally as good on the road as he has at home; his splits are nearly identical. Opponents are hitting .232 off Happ and he’s allowed the same amount of home runs as Porcello, 20, in slightly less innings. Neither pitcher is the over bearing dominant power pitcher we’d expect to win the Cy Young but from a numbers stand point I don’t see how others in contention (Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Cole Hamels) have the numbers to beat them.
1 – Rick Porcello
2 – J.A. Happ
3 – Cole Hamels
4 – Chris Sale
Barring any unforeseen events in September I believe the NL Cy Young is going to Jake Arrieta and deservedly so. Arrieta started off the year on fire, he was practically a lock to win the award back in May. He was unbeaten in his first 10 starts, winning 9 and his sub 2.00 ERA made it even that more impressive. By the end of June his record was 12-2 with a 2.10 ERA but things went wrong in July. The next month he went winless; the Cubs lost all five of his starts, himself earnings the loss in three of them. His ERA jumped to 2.75 and Cubs fans began to sweat. But fear not everything reverted back to normal in August where he posted a 4-0 record in 5 starts. Arrieta is currently 16-5 with a 2.84 ERA. Overall his numbers are better than his competition: Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 3.59 ERA), Max Scherzer (15-7, 2.89 ERA) and Madison Bumgarner (13-8, 2.49 ERA).
1 – Jake Arrieta
2 – Max Scherzer
3- Madison Bumgarner
4 – Stephen Strasburg
There’s a handful of candidates right now for American League MVP but I think I’ve narrowed it down to two. It’s hard to take Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson out of the equation but I’m going to do it. My two finalists as of right now are Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve (however after I actually wrote this I’m leading much harder towards Big Papi Ortiz). It’s hard for the Red Sox because they have three legitimate candidates and ultimately they are going to split votes. I won’t argue a case for any of those players, I think they all can and could win the award. I think it’s safe to say the MVP is going to come out of the American League East somewhere.
Mookie Betts is third in the AL in batting with an average of .320, behind Altuve and Pedroia. Interestingly enough his .361 OBP drops him to 13th in that ranking. His 30 home runs are 12th in the American League, to which the AL has really experienced a power surge this year. Guys like Brian Dozer have 32 HR, Khris Davis has 34, Todd Frazier 34 and Evan Longoria has returned to relevancy with 31 HR so far. Anyways back to Betts, his 7.8 WAR is second in the American League only trailing Mike Trout.
1 – Mookie Betts
2 – Jose Altuve
3 – David Ortiz
4 – Manny Machado
Who would you vote for? The Washington Nationals’ Daniel Murphy or Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant? There is no wrong answer, it’s just a matter of preference. The NL MVP comes down to these two guys. If the Colorado Rockies were better Nolan Arenado (.294/36/115) would definitely be right in the mix but team success does matter.
A year ago this upcoming fall we all witnessed the amazing post season tear that Daniel Murphy had with the New York Mets. We all thought it was a fluke as he carried the Mets to the World Series and to the brink of victory. The Mets were eventually defeated by the Royals and Murphy became a free agent. The Mets didn’t show him the money and they let Murphy walk; he signed with inter-division rival Washington instead. Did the well dry up? Nope the well actually got deeper and the water is still flowing, no fluke thus far. Murphy is second in the NL in batting with an average of .341 just a few points behind DJ LeMahieu. He has 25 home runs and 98 RBI, both are career highs by a substantial amount.
As great as Murphy’s been, it’s hard to avoid giving the award to the best player on the best team in baseball. Kris Bryant has lived up to all the hype and expectations (and more) with his .307/36/91 campaign. He has a 7.0 WAR, best among NL position players, and leads the NL with a .993 OPS, Murphy is second. I don’t think there’s a lot of precedent for players on a 1st place team who hit above .300 and posted 40 home runs (maybe) and 100+ RBI not winning the award. My money is on Bryant as the Chicago Cubs dream season continues.
1 – Kris Bryant
2 – Daniel Murphy
3 – Nolan Arenado
4 – Corey Seager