We’ve reached mid September, which means the MLB Award races are heating up. Every game is crucial both for teams trying to make the playoffs and players trying to get a nice piece of hardware to put in their trophy cases somewhere in their million-dollar homes.
This season’s races are very solid. If I’m being honest, they’re not the greatest races we’ve ever seen, but they are certainly exciting, especially for me, as a Sox fan rooting for Chris Sale. The NL MVP award is definitely the closest award race at the moment. So, let’s get into it: here are my picks for each award as of September 19.
AL Rookie of the Year
Front Runner: Aaron Judge
2017 Stats: .275/.412/.587, 44 HR, 97 RBI, 117 Runs, 157 OPS+
Simply put, Judge has been a beast this season. Yes, he has regressed hard since the All Star Break but he is still miles ahead of any other rookie in the AL. He leads the AL in dingers, runs, and walks, along with being amongst the league leaders in RBI, OBP and SLG.
In the hunt: Trey Mancini, Andrew Benintendi
NL Rookie of the Year
Frontrunner: Cody Bellinger
2017 Stats: 120 Games, .273/.356/.602, 38 HR, 88 RBI, 83 Runs, 10 SB, 147 OPS+
Like Judge, Bellinger has taken the league by storm this season. He possesses insane power, hits for a good average, and has an elite eye at the plate. Cody didn’t get called up to the majors until May, but has more than made up for missed time. The Dodger’s star has not only been one of the best hitters in the game, he has also shown versatility by not only playing his natural position at first base, but all three spots in the outfield as well. Not only is he going to win this award by a country mile, he will also more than likely bring home a top 7 MVP finish as well.
In the hunt: Paul DeJong, Josh Bell, Nick Williams, Rhys Hoskins
AL Cy Young
Frontrunner: Corey Kluber
2017 Stats: 17-4, 2.35 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 252 SO, 11.8 K/9, 2.49 FIP, 195 ERA+
This race seemed over months ago, however not with Kluber winning it. Chris Sale seemed to have this thing locked up, but that’s not the case anymore. Sale’s struggles combined with Kluber’s dominance over the last few months have completely turned the tables and made this award up for grabs.
Kluber leads the AL in wins, ERA, WHIP, H/9, BB/9 and ERA+, and he’s second in strikeouts and top 10 in innings as well. He has missed three starts and while that does hurt his innings, it makes his strikeout numbers that much more impressive. This race is definitely not over, but lately, Kluber is running away with it.
In the hunt: Chris Sale, Luis Severino, Drew Pomeranz
NL Cy Young
Frontrunner: Clayton Kershaw
2017 Stats: 17-4, 2.26 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 194 SO, 1.7 BB/9, 10.7 K/9, 185 ERA+
This race is a close one between Kershaw and Max Scherzer. So close, in fact, that one bad start from either of these two studs could cost them the award. Stephen Strasburg is also making a late push into the race, though it would take a major fall-off from Kershaw and Scherzer for him to really have a chance.
Kershaw’s numbers are unbelievable, as usual, however, he has dealt with injuries this season. His innings pitched and counting stats could possibly cost him this award, but I have reason to believe that won’t be the case. Fortunately, voters tend to overvalue wins, which helps him big time. He leads the NL in wins and ERA, and when you match that with his Hall of Fame-worthy numbers across the board, I see no reason for Kershaw not to take this one home.
In the hunt: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Greinke
Frontrunner: Jose Altuve
2017 Stats: .348/.409/.556, 23 HR, 77 RBI, 193 Hits, 31 SB, 165 OPS+, 7.0 WAR
Altuve is just tearing up the league. He leads the AL in hits, average, stolen bases, OPS+, WAR, all while putting up elite numbers in every other category. He is a true 5-tool player. He can hit for average and power, he has a great glove and great arm, and he is the biggest stolen base threat in the AL. Not to mention, he is doing all this on the best offense in baseball. No one is close to the 5-foot-6, 27-year-old megastar. After a third-place finish last season, it appears Jose is going to finally win the AL MVP.
In the hunt: Jose Ramirez, Corey Kluber, Aaron Judge, Jose Abreu, Mike Trout
Frontrunner: Joey Votto
2017 Stats: .317/.453/.582, 35 HR, 99 RBI, 169 OPS+, 6.4 WAR, 150 Games
This race is so close, definitely the closest award race in baseball. I may seem a little crazy picking Votto as the front runner, but hear me out. He has been a model of consistency and is the most well-rounded hitter in the game this season. Sure, some of these other guys are hitting more home runs or hitting for a better average, but Votto has done everything this season. He leads the league in OBP, OPS, OPS+, walks, is second in WAR, third in home runs and has only made two errors all season, despite playing in every single game in 2017.
To me, Votto’s combination of average and power, along with his ability to get on base at a clip higher than anyone else all while having an elite glove and being on the field every single day gives him the slight edge in such a close race. Ask yourself, who has been the best all around player in the NL this season? To me, that is Joey Votto. With that being said, this race is far from over, and there are at the very least, six other players that could win it at this point.
In the hunt: Charlie Blackmon, Paul Goldschmidt, Giancarlo Stanton, Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner
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