It’s every baseball fan’s favorite time of year: October. The onset of fall means playoff baseball and season accolades.
With just a few days left in the season, the playoff picture is becoming clearer while the awards races are getting tighter.
Who are your picks for AL/NL MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year?
Find the answers after the jump…
Adam’s Take: The most compelling awards race this year is the one for AL MVP, which is down to two candidates: 21-year-old Angels rookie phenom Mike Trout and Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera is on the verge of winning the Triple Crown–leading the league in batting average, home runs, and RBIs–for the first time in 45 years. He’s hitting .333 with 41 home runs and 130 RBI.
His average and RBI total lead the American League, and he trails Josh Hamilton by one homer. Trout is hitting .327 with 27 home runs and 77 RBI, but he also leads baseball with 46 stolen bases. It’s a close race, but the edge goes to Trout.
His numbers are simply astounding for a leadoff hitter, and he boasts an incredible 92 percent success rate on stolen base attempts. Plus, he’s a phenomenal defensive centerfielder whereas Cabrera is merely adequate at best in the field. Finally, Trout wasn’t called up to the majors until May. Imagine what his stats would be like if he’d started the season in the bigs.
In the NL, there are a number of good candidates, but Buster Posey stands out. He plays the toughest position on the field, catcher, yet has posted a .334 average with 22 home runs and 94 RBI. The Giants have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, and Posey is a big part of that.
He called Matt Cain’s perfect game and has guided the Giants back to the postseason. He’s also been good defensively. Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates has had a phenomenal year, but the Pirates’ recent swoon will cost him, and Ryan Braun has put up huge numbers (.313, 40 HR, 104 RBI) but has been tainted by his drug test scandal.
Last year, there was no race for the AL Cy Young award. Nobody came close to Justin Verlander. This year is a different story as Chris Sale, David Price, Felix Hernandez, and Jered Weaver, along with Verlander, all have strong cases as to why they should win. Verlander’s numbers aren’t eye-popping like they were a year ago, but he is still 16-8 with a 2.72 ERA and 231 strikeouts in 231.1 innings pitched. Price is 19-5 with a 2.56 ERA and 201 strikeouts in 204 innings.
Weaver is 19-4 with a 2.74 ERA but only 136 strikeouts in 180.2 innings pitched. Sale is 17-7 with a 2.86 ERA and has struck out 185 batters in 188.2 innings, and Felix Hernandez is only 13-8 for a woeful Mariners team but did throw a perfect game and has 207 strikeouts in 220.2 innings.
His lack of wins will hurt him, even though it’s not his fault, and Weaver’s and Sale’s lack of innings rule them out. It comes down to Price and Verlander for me, and I have to go with Price. He has more wins and a better ERA while pitching in the toughest division in baseball.
The National League is much the same, as a case can be made for a number of pitchers. Clayton Kershaw, last year’s winner, has a 2.68 ERA and leads the league in strikeouts, but he’s only 12-9. Kyle Lohse is 16-3 with a 2.77 ERA. Johnny Cueto is 19-9 with a 2.83 ERA.
Gio Gonzalez was the majors’ first 20-game winner and sports a sterling 2.84 ERA to go with his 20-8 record. Matt Cain threw a perfect game and is 15-5 with a 2.86 ERA while picking up the slack when Tim Lincecum struggled. Still, nobody can match the overall body of work of R.A. Dickey.
The Mets’ all-star leads the NL in innings pitched, is second in strikeouts, has 19 wins, leads the league in WHIP, and has the NL’s lowest ERA at 2.66. Plus, he throws a knuckleball, which is just plain awesome. Dickey’s the pick.
The Rookie of the Year race in the AL isn’t even close. It’s Trout.
The NL Rookie of the Year race, on the other hand, is a mess. Bryce Harper got all the pub, but there are a number of NL rookies who have outperformed him. Colorado’s Wilin Rosario has 27 home runs, second only to Trout amongst all rookies and tied with A.J. Pierzynski for first among catchers, while hitting .276. On the downside, he has been atrocious defensively with 20 passed balls.
Still, defense didn’t hurt Ryan Braun when he won Rookie of the Year in 2007. Arizona Pitcher Wade Miley has gone 15-10 with a 3.10 ERA. The Reds’ Todd Frazier is hitting .284 with 18 homers and 62 RBI. Rosario’s been the best offensively, but I can’t ignore his subpar defense. Miley’s the winner here.
Rob’s Take: It is simply unfathomable to me that Miguel Cabrera could win the Triple Crown and NOT win the American League MVP. Unfathomable. The last time a player won the Triple Crown was nearly 50 years ago, when Yaz did it in 1967. It’s only been done 15 times in the history of major league baseball, and four of those occurred more than 100 years ago. I can say this.
If Mike Trout does win the Triple Crown over Miguel Cabrera, it will signify the complete triumph of sabremetrics over traditional stats like batting average and RBI. Good for your stat geeks.
Mike Trout has a WAR over 10, which, I’m told, is unbelievable. One problem. The WAR stat is subjective. Different authorities calculate it differently, and I’m not buying. Cabreara has driven in 133 runs.
He’s scored 106. He’s batting and slugging higher than Trout. He’s hit 42 homeruns to Trout’s 24 (Cabrera trails Josh Hamilton by one in this category). Cabrera is the MVP. Trout is fantastic, and he’s certain to win his share in the future, but not this year.
In the NL, it’s a three man race, with all three men having strikes against them. Buster Posey is hitting .331 with 23 HR and 100 RBI. His Giants, moreover, are in first place and going to the playofffs. But his OPS is below both Ryan Bruan and Andrew McCutcheon. Both Bruan and McCutcheon have more homeruns. McCutcheon is batting a few points higher and has a slightly higher OBP. McCutcheon is saddled in a terrible Pirates lineup, and only has 90 RBI.
Braun has strong overall numbers – he leads the NL in OPS, but his Brewers are probably not going to catch the Cardinals for the final wildcard and, of course, there’s that whole banned substance thing from last year. To be honest, if I had a vote, it would go to McCutcheon, but I think Braun will win the award when the final votes are tallied.
The AL Cy Young race has a number of worthy contenders, but I think it comes down to 3. Justin Verlander, who leads the AL in strikeouts and is 16-8 with a 2.72 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, Jered Weaver, who is 19-4, leads the AL in WHIP at 1.00, and has a 2.74 ERA, and David Price, who has a league leading 2.56 ERA and is 19-5 with a 1.10 WHIP.
I like Price here. He has over 200 strikeouts compared to Weaver who is under 150, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Verlander, who is clearly the AL’s most dominant pitcher, wins it again. And don’t be surprised if Baltimore’s closer, Jim Johnson, finishes in the top 5 or 6. He’s been instrumental in their playoff run.
In the NL, I actually don’t the think the race is all that close. RA Dickey has the W-L record to contend with Johnny Cueto and Gio Gonzalez, and has the ERA and WHIP numbers to compare to Clayton Kershaw and Matt Cain. He’s also second in the NL in strikeouts.
And there’s another thing. He’s RA Dickey. Total journeyman. A baseball nobody who somehow got great after the age of 35. Dickey not only has the best numbers to win the award, he’s the hands-on sentimental favorite as well.
The AL Rookie of the Year Award should be retired and renamed the Mike Trout award. No one has EVER had a rookie season like Trout. He might still win MVP to boot. ‘Nuff said.
In the NL, I think Wade Miley SHOULD be the ROY, because I have a special affinity for a young unknown pitcher who comes in and gets the job done, but it is much more likely to go to a position player, and that means Wilin Rosario. He has 7 more homeruns and and 14 more RBI than Bryce Harper in nearly 150 fewer at-bats.