I’ll certainly go into much greater depth on all of the major baseball awards between now and the time that the season is completed, but I just wanted to give a few thoughts on the races at this point as the season marches, inexorably, toward the conclusion of the regular season (go Giants).
Main Candidates: Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Josh Hamilton, Paul Konerko
Hamilton will lead baseball in batting average (.361), and he is hopeful of a return to action from his rib issue on Friday. Still, the guy has appeared in only two games in September and just 130 on the season. Is that really an MVP worthy campaign? There has only been one MVP who appeared in fewer than 15 September games in a non-strike season, and that was Dick Groat of the Pirates in 1960. I know it would make a great story, but I can’t give a thumbs up to a guy who didn’t do a damn thing in the seasons most important month.
Main Candidates: Carlos Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, Troy Tulowitzki, Joey Votto
CarGo and Tulo will likely cancel each other out. The anti-Hamilton, look at their numbers in September: Gonzalez (.412-5-26-24 with a 1.131 OPS), Tulowitzki (.299-15-40 with a 1.148 OPS). If that means the decision is left to Pujols and Votto you have to think the fact that Votto’s Reds are playoff bound will tip the scales in his favor in the eyes of most voters since Votto and Pujols have had nearly identical numbers this season: Votto (.325-37-111-104-16 with a 1.029 OPS), Pujols (.313-42-117-113-13 with a 1.015 OPS). Will Pujols’ history win out over Votto’s winning record?
AL Cy Young
Main Candidates: Clay Buchholz, Trevor Cahill, Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee, Jon Lester, David Price, CC Sabathia
The best pitcher in the AL has been Felix Hernandez, though he is a mere 13-12 because of brutal run support (the Mariners scored seven runs while he was in the game in his 12 loses). Hernandez leads the league in ERA (2.27), strikeouts (232), innings pitched (249.2), quality starts (30) and he is second in WHIP at 1.06 (Cliff Lee has a 1.02 mark). Still, no starting pitcher, in a non-strike season, has ever won the award with fewer than the 15 victories that Tim Lincecum posted last season.
NL Cy Young
Main Candidates: Roy Halladay, Tim Hudson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Adam Wainwright
Hudson ha lost four of five decisions as his ERA has gone from 2.24 to 2.76. Jimenez was 15-1 at the All-Star break but only 4-7 since. Johnson leads the NL with a 2.30 ERA but he pitched only 183.2 innings and won just 11 games. That leaves Halladay and Wainwright to finish 1-2, with Halladay likely to win the award despite nearly identical totals: Halladay (21-10, 2.44 ERA, 219 Ks, 1.04 WHIP), Wainwright (20-11, 2.42 ERA, 213 Ks, 1.05 WHIP).
AL Rookie of the Year
Main Candidates: Neftali Feliz, Austin Jackson
Feliz was left in the bullpen when the club realized it had a hole there (he was slated to spend at least some time in the rotation), and all Feliz has done is have the best closing season by a rookie in league history with a record 38 saves in just 41 chances. He’s also posted a 0.90 WHIP over 66.1 innings.
Jackson has played strong defense in center field while at the same time scoring a ton of runs (102). He’s also hit nearly .300 at .299, while adding 26 steals. Do you favor pitching or hitting?
NL Rookie of the Year
Main Candidates: Starlin Castro, Ike Davis, Jamie Garcia, Jason Heyward, Buster Posey, Gaby Sanchez
One of the strongest rookie classes in recent memory. As much as people seem to want to hand the award to Heyward, there are a couple of salient points that Heyward apologists have to deal with. (1) Sanchez has one more homer with 19, while he has knocked in 12 more runs (83) then Heyward. Heck, Sanchez is only batting .003 points lower at .276. How many people think Sanchez should win the award? That’s exactly why Heyward’s candidacy isn’t as strong as some profess. (2) Buster Posey has only two fewer homers and seven less RBI than Heyward despite appearing in 35 fewer games. Posey also has a .020 point lead in OPS, and he is a catcher. I’m admittedly biased as a Giants fan, but I just don’t get all this Heyward talk.
By Ray Flowers