Who’s Still In The Running For AL, NL MVP and Cy Young?

The clock is ticking on the 2012 MLB season.

With that, time is running out for this year’s MVP and Cy Young Candidates to make cases for themselves. All four races look to be highly contested and full of tough decisions for voters.

Let’s dive in and look at these races in each league.

mike-trout-miguel-cabrera

Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera are the clear leaders for the AL MVP. Will it simply come down to who makes the playoffs and who doesn’t? (Image credit: JULIAN H. GONZALEZ / Detroit Free Press)

AL MVP

Main Candidates: Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera

With Josh Hamilton really falling off the table since the All-Star break batting average wise, it now looks like Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera make up the two-horse race for the American League MVP.

How in the world do you decide between the two?

We all know that since Mike Trout joined the Angels, they’ve taken on a different identity.  However, it’s hard to ignore the .325-36-177 line of Miguel Cabrera, even with Prince Fielder hitting behind him.

In my opinion, It’s really almost impossible to determine. However, if Detroit can overtake the White Sox in the AL Central, I think that will be the determining factor.

Barring a collapse from both Texas and Oakland, Trout’s Angels look too far away from a division title. A wild card berth could be in the team’s future, but it remains to be seen how big of an accomplishment the voters will view that as now that there is a second wild card team.

I think it comes down to which one out of Cabrera and Trout make the playoffs. If they both or neither of them make it, the vote should be an interesting one.

NL MVP

Main Candidates: Buster Posey, Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Braun

The voters have shown with the MVP race that a high premium is placed on whether or not your team makes the playoffs. Given that assumption, Buster Posey is the favorite at this point, and it gives him a great chance to win both the MVP and Comeback Player of the Year awards for the National League.

However, the statistics for Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Braun are much more eye popping.

Recently, Jayson Stark from ESPN.com posted an article handicapping the odds of these three players, giving Braun the worst odds to win the MVP at 50-to-1. Yes, a big issue with Braun is the mysterious overturned drug test, but I think that that is more of an issue with the fans than the voters. I could be kidding myself, but I really do not think that’s going to be a big factor for Braun when the ballots are cast.

If the Milwaukee Brewers can find a way to sneak into that second wild card spot, I have a feeling Braun will get a ton of support because of the way he was able to lead that offense without Prince Fielder.

As far as McCutchen goes, I don’t think there is any doubt that out of all three of these guys, he is the most valuable to his team. He put up just downright scary numbers the first four months of the season, and when he started to tail off (which, for him, is apparently to a .340 batting average), so did the team.

It’s obvious that the Pirates sink or swim with McCutchen, so wouldn’t that define what an MVP is? The issue is that everybody has a different definition of an MVP, and if McCutchen’s Buccos do not separate themselves from the Giants or Brewers by becoming a playoff team, it’s going to make it that much harder for McCutchen to win the award.

AL CY YOUNG

Main Candidates: David Price, Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Jered Weaver, Felix Hernandez

I do not ever remember any award race being as wide open as this season’s AL Cy Young.

I don’t think it is a stretch by any means to think that all six of the guys mentioned above will receive at least one first place vote.

The question that will determine which player wins the award is probably which one is more consistently amongst the tops in all major statistical categories: innings pitched, strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, and record.

Voters have shown in the past that a pitcher’s win-loss record doesn’t really sway them one way or another when it comes to the Cy Young Award, as evidenced by Felix Hernandez winning the award in 2010. That’s why I think that as it stands right now, Hernandez and Justin Verlander are the two leaders in the clubhouse for the award.

All the other guys in the running are outside of the top five in certain categories. Chris Sale, Jared Weaver and David Price aren’t there in innings and strikeouts, and Max Scherzer isn’t there in innings, ERA and WHIP.

King Felix and Verlander are the only two that are there in all the categories, so I think that the voters will take notice of their consistency across the board despite not having the records of the other pitchers.

NL CY YOUNG

Main Candidates: R.A. Dickey, Clayton Kershaw, Gio Gonzalez, Johnny Cueto, Kyle Lohse

Much like the AL, the NL Cy Young race is also an interesting one. The most interesting aspect of this race, though, is not the stats but the stories of some of the candidates.

The R.A. Dickey phenomenon is well-documented, but Kyle Lohse is also a guy who was overlooked by more than a few organizations before catching on with the Cardinals. Also, for Gio Gonzalez, he was a guy who didn’t get much attention in Washington with Stephen Strasburg being there. However, he’s outperformed him in many ways this year.

With that said, I think it boils down to Dickey and Clayton Kershaw.

Like Hernandez and Verlander in the AL, they separate themselves from the pack because they are more consistently at or near the top in all categories.  It will make for a very interesting dynamic: the knuckleballer vs. the overpowering Kershaw.

*****

Who do you think will win each race? Make your predictions below.



Comments

  1. trouty for sure… 10++++ war… best stats in baseball, speed and can catch up to an airplane if he had to catch it…

    • Derek Jeter is a legitimate candidate for MVP. Not only his numbers (leader in hits) but his leadership in difficult times, even playing hurt. If the yankees make the playoff and no Tigers and Angels, Derek has a legitimate shot at MVP:

      • AL MVP: (Begrudgingly) Agreed that Jeter is a legit MVP candidate. I’d throw Adrian Beltre into the mix as well, but I don’t think either are all that serious, even if Jeets ends up playoff bound. Trout’s WAR is just too hard to ignore for me. Cabrera is having one of his finest seasons, but if neither team makes the playoffs, I’m giving it to Trout. Kid’s unreal, and this would be a laugher it he’d been up the entire season. I won’t complain either way as long as one of them gets it though.

        AL Cy Young: I *want* Sale or Price to win because they are the best of the underdogs, but I think King Felix has to get it again this year. He’s on a *much* weaker offensive team in a *much* better division than Verlander, so I can excuse his lower win total a lot easier.

        NL MVP: I’d seriously take Trout, Cabrera, Beltre, or Jeter (or Hamilton OR Encarnacion) over ANY of these guys. The Brewers are putting up offensive numbers very similar to last year. Aramis isn’t Prince, but he’s still a solid replacement having his usual very good year (he’s also entering borderline Hall of Fame territory, but I digress), so it’s not like Braun has nothing to work with. I don’t even really care about the PED thing, but I think I’m still leaning towards Posey over McCutchen or Braun, but you may as well throw Chase Headley, Alfonso Soriano, Yadier Molina, Miguel Montero & a host of others a few votes while you’re at it.

        NL Cy Young: When the stats are as close as they are between Kershaw and RA Dickey, I’ll defer to wins and take Dickey.

  2. frank racioppi says:

    It’s a disgrace that Derek Jeter is not mentioned as an MVP he his having one of his best years and the Yankees would be down in the standings if he didn’t have a copuple of good streaks

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