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.
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.
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.