We’re a little more than halfway through the Major League Baseball season, and it hasn’t failed to disappoint. New teams have emerged as contenders, while old ones have disappointed and fallen into mediocrity. Nevertheless, the intermission of the season is the perfect opportunity to take a look at who would win the MVP, CY Young, and ROY awards if the season ended today.
AL MVP – Mookie Betts, BOS
Honorable Mentions: Mike Trout, LAA; JD Martinez, BOS; Jose Ramirez, CLE
Betts, Trout, and Martinez are playing in a league of their own.
There’s a legitimate, strong case for any one of these 3 to win the MVP. Trout yet again leads in fWAR and bWAR by wide margins, and JD has a serious shot at winning the Triple Crown. However, Betts leads the American League in BA, SLG, OPS, and wRC+, while having just 2 less HR than Trout in 20 fewer games. Sprinkle in some stellar defense, and Betts is my pick for the most valuable player.
Jose Ramirez is having yet another insane run, powering off 24 HR so far while swiping 17 bases. Since June 14th of 2017, Ramirez is batting .319/.396/.703 with 45 homeruns. If he were in the National League, he’d be a shoe-in for the MVP, but behind arguably the 3 best players in all of baseball, the odds aren’t in his favor.
NL MVP – Nolan Arenado, COL
Honorable Mentions: Freddie Freeman, ATL; Eugenio Suarez, CIN; Matt Kemp, LAD
Last year, the depth of offensive talent in the NL led to one of the closest MVP voting races in history. This year…not so much.
The competition may not be nearly as talented as the American League, but is still tight. Arenado currently leads in both metrics of WAR, OPS, wRC+, HR, RBI, and SLG, while sitting in the top 5 for BA and top 3 for OBP. Combine that with his consistently elite defense, and Nolan could become the first player in history to win his 3rd batting title and 5th Gold Glove – and his 1st MVP.
Freddie Freeman seems to finally be getting some recognition for his tremendous play now that the Braves are performing well. Eugenio Suarez may be the most underrated player in baseball, owning the NL’s second best OPS at .964. Matt Kemp has defied all odds at nearly 34 years old, awakening his bat with a .311 BA and .911 OPS, both ranking 4th best.
Introducing our custom awards for the 1st half of the 2018 MLB Season
Our 1st award given out by @Jared_Carrabis is the “Saugus Rocket”, given out to a veteran player dominating who is probably too old to be participating, and it goes to Matt Kemp. Congrats to Matt pic.twitter.com/j3r5NslfRE
— Starting 9 (@Starting9) July 3, 2018
Other variables to watch out for are Paul Goldschmidt, whose batted .354/.448/.707 since May 25th, and non-qualifiers Max Muncy and Jesus Aguilar, whose wRC+’s of 183 and 155 respectively would fall 1st and 2nd best in the NL if they qualified.
AL CY Young – Luis Severino, NYY
Honorable Mentions – Justin Verlander, HOU; Chris Sale, BOS; Trevor Bauer, CLE.
American League pitching is DEEP.
Sevy, Verlander, Sale, Bauer, Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, Corey Kluber, Tyler Skaggs, and Gerrit Cole are all AL Starters bragging sub-2.75 ERA’s. 7 of those names have K/9 rates of at least 10.00, 7 have only lost 4 games or fewer, and 6 have WHIP’s below 1.000.
It’s hard to argue against Severino and Verlander being the 1 and 2 in this race. Severino leads the league with a 1.98 ERA, followed closely by Verlander in 2nd at 2.15. They’re two completely different guys with different mentalities towards success ; Sevy is 24, young and new to the game, and just wants to establish himself as one of the best in today’s game with a CY Young. Verlander, on the opposite, is 35 (fun fact: they share a birthday, Feb 20th) and wants to cement himself as one of the greatest to ever pitch with one more trophy before his sooner-than-later retirement on a Hall of Fame worthy career.
Despite what some (MLB Network included) see as a tight race, the Yankees still think it’s a pretty easy call to make:
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 2, 2018
NL CY Young – Max Scherzer, WAS
Honorable Mentions – Jacob Degrom, NYM; Aaron Nola, PHI; Jon Lester, CHC
Scherzer is slowly surpassing Kershaw as the best pitcher right now.
An injury ridden Clayton Kershaw has likely fallen out of this year’s CY Young race, leaving Max Scherzer and Jacob Degrom at the forefront of it. Scherzer is pitching to a 2.16 ERA, 2.22 FIP, 12.95 K/9, and 0.870 WHIP – all of which would be career bests. Degrom only leads Scherzer and all of MLB in ERA at 1.84, and is sure to give the nearly 34 year old a run at his money at his potentially 4th overall and 3rd CY Young in a row.
The Cy Young award was created in 1956.
If Justin Verlander wins this year’s AL Cy Young (very possible), he and Max Scherzer would become first pair of teammates to win Cy Young as teammates and again with separate teams.
Scherzer a shoe in for NL this year.
— Jacob Kornhauser (@KornSports) July 7, 2018
It’s pretty much a two pitcher race in the National League, but starters like Lester, Nola, Patrick Corbin, Miles Mikolas, or Mike Foltynewicz could use a big second half to gain some possible ground as the third best option.
AL ROY – Gleyber Torres, NYY
Honorable Mentions – Miguel Andujar, NYY; Shohei Ohtani, LAA; Brad Keller, TB
There’s only ever been 4 instances in AL history of a team owning back-to-back Rookie of the Years. The Yankees are on pace to make it 5.
Gleyber Torres came into the season a minor league fighting for a crack at the majors. He was ranked number 2 overall among all prospects at the conclusion of last season, leaving high expectations to meet this year. Simply put, he’s living up to the hype. Torres is batting .294 with a .905 OPS and 15 HR so far in roughly 240 PA.
Ohtani was on track to win the award himself before his heartbreaking injury. His electric start to the season is reason enough for him to make the list, but continuing the season solely as a batter likely won’t be enough to pass Torres or Andujar.
NL ROY – Juan Soto, WSH
Honorable Mentions – Jack Flaherty, STL; Austin Meadows, PIT; Walker Buehler, LAD
A 19 year old Washington National rookie playing unbelievably well…where have we seen this before?
Juan Soto’s putting up jaw dropping numbers for his age. Legitimately, if the season ended today and he qualified, he’d finish top 3 in MVP voting. A .312 batting average that falls 5th best in the NL, a .424 OBP that ranks 2nd, and a .558 SLG rate that slides in at 3rd makes for one of the best rookie seasons we’ve seen since…well…last year.
Meadows, Flaherty, and Buehler were all top 3 prospects for their teams last season, and have impressed in their first cracks at the majors. Meadows owns a near .300 BA, while on pace for double digits in HR and SB. Flaherty and Buehler both own ERA’s below 3.50 and K/BB rates greater than 4.20.