We have officially hit the one-quarter mark of the MLB season, and it’s never too early to review the players that are at the top of each award race. As a disclaimer, the following awards leaders are players who I think would win the awards if the season ended today, not players who I think will ultimately win them. Let’s get started.
American League MVP- Miguel Cabrera (3b- Tigers)
Right now, it’s not close (although 7 players do have a higher WAR than him, including Mike Trout). Coming off of his Triple-Crown campaign, he’s actually making it seem possible to have a repeat performance. Cabrera is leading the entire MLB in RBI and he’s second in batting average. But what impresses me most about Cabrera are his numbers with RISP. Some of them are just astounding. He’s 25-51 (.490) with Runners in Scoring Position, but the numbers only get freakier from there. With 2 outs and RISP he hits .600 (12-20) with four of those twelve hits being home runs. Oh and he only hits .419 with runners simply on base. His strikeout numbers are at an all-time low and his line-drive numbers are at an all-time high, but they have not interfered with his fly-ball rate. I know 40 games is still a small sample size, but come on now, you can’t put together a much better 40 game stretch in this day and age than Cabrera has so far.
Rounding out the Top 5 (in no particular order): Chris Davis, Evan Longoria, Mike Trout, Felix Hernandez
National League MVP- Starling Marte (of- Pirates)
Huh? OK give me a second here ladies and gents. First of all, he’s second in the National League in offensive WAR (behind Gerardo Parra, again, huh?). As you can see, this whole “small sample size” thing remains in effect, but Marte is actually the real deal. I look at him as a Mike Trout without the plate discipline. Secondly, the Pirates have the 3rd best record in the National League. No, not because of Andrew McCutchen, but because of Starling Marte. He has seen his peripherals skyrocket this season, but his actual numbers are great as well. He’s second in Major League Baseball currently in runs scored with 33, 6th in stolen bases with 10, and is hitting .315 with some pop (5 HR, 17 RBI) out of the lead-off hole. And, when you really think hard about it, who would you give this award to over him?
Rounding out the Top 5: Justin Upton, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Gomez, Paul Goldschmidt
American League Cy Young- Felix Hernandez (Mariners)
This was EXTREMELY difficult because there are a slew of viable candidates for this award, many of while are very close to Felix at the top. I choose Felix because he has been the most consistent, he leads the American League in ERA, and he is currently posting a 1.39 BB/9 while maintaining his near-9 K/9. He is second in the American League in WAR (amongst pitchers), and I could have very easily given this award to the number 1 guy (Anibal Sanchez), but realistically, if the season ended today, Anibal Sanchez would not be winning the award over the king himself, Felix Hernandez.
Rounding out the Top 5: Anibal Sanchez, Clay Buccholz, Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma
National League Cy Young- Matt Harvey (Mets)
Is this debatable? Actually, yes. Harvey, as was Felix, is second in his league in WAR, and once again the number 2 guy (Adam Wainwright) has just as good of a case as Harvey for this award. But looking at the two before delving deep into the numbers (which is unfortunately what voters do a lot of the time), Harvey has Wainwright beat. He is third in the National League in ERA, but second in strikeouts. He’s also walking a very low amount of batters taking into consideration his youth and strikout numbers, making Harvey a well-deserved Cy Young Award winner right now.
Rounding out the Top 5: Adam Wainwright, Clayton Kershaw, Jordan Zimmermann, AJ Burnett (sorry Shelby Miller)
American League Rookie of the Year- Nick Tepesch (sp- Rangers)
This is another very difficult one because, let’s face it, there are slim pickings in the American League rookie class right now. I chose Tepesch because he is making the biggest impact on a winning team as he has won 3 games while posting a respectable FIP of 4.02 and an even better xFIP of 3.57. Where will this award go at the end of the year? Your guess is just as good as mine.
Rounding out the Top 5 (do I have to?): Justin Grimm, Conor Gillaspie, Leonys Martin, Darin Downs
National League Rookie of the Year- Shelby Miller (sp- Cardinals)
I’m not gonna lie, I was about 3 sentences in to explaining why I picked Jean Segura for NL ROY before I realized he is not eligible for the award since he batted too many times last season. A damn shame if you ask me, because that kid is something special. But I guess this guy isn’t too bad either. Miller has burst onto the scene (a lot like Lance Lynn did last year) for the Cardinals. He is currently tied for the MLB lead in ERA while posting a 10 K/9 and a 2.10 BB/9. That is simply big-time. Not only is this guy a clear-cut choice for Rookie of the Year right now, but I even went out of my way to at least mention him in the National League Cy Young race. Now that’s saying something.
Rounding out the Top 5: Didi Gregorius, Jose Fernandez, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jim Henderson
For my mid-season awards, I will be tackling Silver Slugger (yes, position by position) as well as updating the awards that I handed out today. As always, feel free to leave your comments, and follow Sports Brunch and me on Twitter!