MLB Post-June Awards Race
Believe it or not, it’s July, which means we are halfway through the Major League Baseball season. July brings us the All-Star Game in the middle of the month and the trade deadline at the end. Plus, a month full of meaningful baseball games that could very well impact the playoff push.
Before we get into the top candidates for each of the major awards, let’s look back at some of June’s best performers.
The most notable accomplishment in June was Clayton Kershaw‘s no-hitter, which was perhaps the most dominant no-hitter in baseball history. Kershaw did not allow a walk and the only baserunner came off of a Hanley Ramirez error, and he struck out 15 Colorado Rockies hitters and only threw 107 pitches.
Not quite as dominant, but still impressive, was Tim Lincecum‘s no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. Lincecum walked only one hitter and struck out six on 113 pitches.
Offensively, Jose Altuve had a great month, hitting .411 with a .447 OBP. Altuve is now hitting .344 on the year, leading the American League. Adrian Beltre, Alcides Escobar, and Buster Posey also had explosive June’s, all hitting over .360 in the month.
Finally, Mike Trout had a wowing .471 OBP in June to go along with his seven home runs, 21 RBI and 1.230 OPS.
So who are the leading candidates to take home the MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards after June? Let’s find out.
American League MVP
1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
As previously mentioned, Trout had a great month of June and now finds himself as the favorite to win the MVP award in the American League. Trout leads the AL in OPS at 1.017 and WAR at 5.0 and is in the top-10 in runs (54), doubles (21), triples (5), home runs (18), RBI (59), average (.314), OBP (.407) and slugging (.610). So, in other words, Trout is the most well-rounded player in the American League, if not all of baseball.
2. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
I’m a sucker for OBP, so Jose Bautista is second in the MVP race for me. Bautista leads the American League with a .432 OBP, thanks in large part to his AL-best 59 walks. Joey Bats has 15 home runs and 49 RBI as well as a .304 average and .956 OPS. It’s also worth noting that Bautista has helped lead the Blue Jays into first place entering July.
3. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
The two-time defending AL MVP is having another outstanding season, but isn’t getting as much attention as he usually does because, by his standards, this is a “down year”. Cabrera is hitting .314 with a .366 OBP. He has 14 home runs and is second in the AL with 65 RBI. Cabrera also leads the AL with 29 doubles.
National League MVP
1. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
The most exciting player to watch hit in the National League is Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton leads the NL with 21 home runs and 60 RBI. This year, Stanton is emerging as more than just a power hitter, as he is hitting .313 with a .408 OBP. Stanton has kept the Marlins relevant for much longer into the season than people expected, and for that he deserves some recognition.
2. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
At first glance, Troy Tulowitzki probably has the best overall numbers in the National League. But, when you look at his home/road splits, there is cause for concern. Overall, Tulo is hitting .353 with 18 home runs, 47 RBI and an OBP of .445. But, away from Coors Field, Tulowitzki is hitting only .266 with 17 RBI. And, somewhat surprisingly, Tulo has more at-bats on the road than at home. Although it is somewhat of a knock on him that his road numbers are sub-par, Tulowitzki is still doing enough overall to get MVP consideration.
3. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
The reigning NL MVP is at it again. McCutchen is fourth in the NL with a .314 average and second with a .418 OBP. He’s also showing some power with 12 home runs and 48 RBI and some speed with 12 steals without being thrown out once. Cutch, like Trout in the AL, may be the most well-rounded player in his league and is the leader of a Pirates team that is looking to return to the postseason.
American League Cy Young
1. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
King Felix is earning his nickname this year. Hernandez has a 10-2 record with a 2.10 ERA and an AL-best 0.92 WHIP. Hernandez trails only David Price in strikeouts with 137 and has been a workhorse, pitching 128.1 innings for the Mariners. Every fifth game the Mariners know they have a great chance of getting a win with Felix on the mound, and there is something to be said about that.
2. Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
Where would the Yankees be if they hadn’t signed Masahiro Tanaka? They wouldn’t be only 2.5 games out of first place, that’s for sure. Tanaka has a 2.10 ERA and 0.95 WHIP to go along with his AL-best 11 wins. He also has struck out 127 batters and has allowed only 18 walks. Tanaka cost the Yankees quite a bit of money, but so far he has been worth every penny.
3. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
There is a pretty significant drop off after Hernandez and Tanaka in the Cy Young race. That’s not to say that Yu Darvish isn’t having an outstanding season, but he just isn’t really on the same level as the first two guys. Darvish has a 2.42 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, and he has struck out 128 batters in 104.1 innings pitched. The Rangers are struggling this year, so the win-loss record won’t be great for Darvish, but his numbers are solid and worth praising.
National League Cy Young
1. Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
This, at least to me, is a no-brainer. Johnny Cueto leads the league with a 1.88 ERA and 0.84 WHIP. He has 122 strikeouts, one behind NL-leader Stephen Strasburg, and has had five outings where he has not allowed a run. In 17 games, Cueto has pitched 124.1 innings, the most in the National League.
2. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
As clear as it is that Cueto is the favorite to win the NL Cy Young, it is that clear that Wainwright is next in line. Wainwright is 10-4 with a 2.01 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. He leads all NL pitchers with a 3.6 WAR and has 105 strikeouts and only 22 walks. It seems like Wainwright just misses winning the Cy Young every year, and, unfortunately, this year may be more of the same.
3. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Yes, Kershaw missed time and has not accumulated enough innings to qualify for best ERA and WHIP just yet, but when he has been on the mound, he has dominated. Kershaw still ranks sixth in the NL with 107 strikeouts and has walked only 11 batters. In 79.1 innings, Kershaw has accumulated a 2.04 ERA and 0.92 WHIP and currently is on a streak where he has not allowed a run in 28 innings.
American League Rookie of the Year
1. Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
2. Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
The latest Cuban sensation to enter the MLB is Chicago’s Jose Abreu. Abreu has shown incredible power, hitting 25 home runs and driving in 64 RBI. Abreu is hitting a respectable .279 and has an OBP of .328, which leaves a bit to be desired, but right now he is clearly one of the top two candidates for Rookie of the Year.
3. George Springer, Houston Astros
George Springer has exploded onto the MLB scene since getting called up. Springer has 16 home runs and 43 RBI as well as an impressive .353 OBP. He’s only hitting .245, but he gets on base frequently enough that his average can be overlooked, especially considering he’s only 24-years old.
National League Rookie of the Year
1. Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds
It took him a little while, but Billy Hamilton has gotten hot and is now the clear favorite to win NL Rookie of the Year. Hamilton is hitting .281 with four home runs and 28 RBI, but what people really want to see is his speed. Hamilton has stolen 34 bases, but has been caught 12 times. Hamilton needs to draw more walks, but that will come with time. Right now, he’s the best rookie in the National League.
2. Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks
Chris Owings is on the DL right now, which will help Hamilton pull away, but Owings is still having a solid season. He is hitting .277 with six home runs and 21 RBI. Ok, so those numbers aren’t great, but the rookie crop in the National League isn’t exactly on the same level as the American League in 2014.
3. Tommy Kahnle, Colorado Rockies
Let’s give some love to the middle relievers. Colorado’s Tommy Kahnle has pitched 44.1 innings in 31 games and has an ERA of only 2.44 and a WHIP of 1.06. Kahnle has struck out 34 batters and has really done a quality job in his role in the Rockies bullpen.