Handing out the 'one-third' awards for 2014
Roughly one-third of the 2014 season is behind us, so why not make with the individual hardware?
The 2014 MLB regular season is now, in somewhat imprecise terms, one-third over. As such, why not use this 33.3-percent occasion to contrive a reason to hand out some awards? If the season ended right now, that would be awful because there would be no more baseball. But if the season ended today, who would win all that individual hardware? That's the question I'm here to answer.
Before we dig in, a couple of notes regarding my criteria:
• When it comes to the MVP, I don't care about a team's record.
• When it comes to the Cy Young, I don't care about a pitcher's record.
Now, the following players should approach the magnificently appointed awards podium ...
AL MVP -
It’s a tight race in the AL, but Donaldson’s big night helped nudge him to the top. In addition to providing stellar defense at the hot corner, he’s now batting .286/.381/.563 with 15 homers and 12 doubles. Let us remember that he’s put up those numbers while logging 161 of his 247 plate appearances at O.co, Safeco, Angel Stadium and Target Field -- pronounced pitchers parks, all.
In the mix: Mike Trout , Angels; Nelson Cruz , Orioles; Jose Bautista , Blue Jays; Edwin Encarnacion , Blue Jays
NL MVP -
This one, in contrast to the AL, is not a tough decision, despite the excellence of the names you see below. Tulo is an elite defender at a premium position, and he’s batting .369/.471/.702 (leading the majors in all three categories). Coors Field? There’s no doubt that helps every hitter who toils there, but it’s worth noting that Tulowitzki also leads MLB in OPS+ (201), which is park-adjusted. Again: This one’s not a difficult choice.
In the mix: Yasiel Puig , Dodgers; Giancarlo Stanton , Marlins; Carlos Gomez , Brewers
AL Cy Young -
There’s a lot of candidates for this one, and there’s a lot of compression among those candidates. I give it to King Felix by a hairsbreadth. He’s on pace to make 37 starts and work 257 innings, and he’s pitched to a 2.57 ERA. As well, his 5.19 K/BB ratio ranks fourth among AL qualifiers. One key to Hernandez’s success this season has been his ability to keep the ball in the park: just three homers allowed in 84 innings.
In the mix: Dallas Keuchel , Astros; Mark Buehrle , Blue Jays; Masahiro Tanaka , Yankees; Sonny Gray , Athletics; Corey Kluber , Indians; Max Scherzer , Tigers; Scott Kazmir , Athletics; Yu Darvish , Rangers
NL Cy Young -
This award belonged to Adam Wainwright before his Friday night stinker against the Giants. Now it falls to Cueto, who, that previous qualifier notwithstanding, is quite worthy. Presently, he leads the NL in innings and the majors in strikeouts. More to the point, Cueto boasts an ERA of 1.83, and opposing hitters are batting just .148/.207/.251 against him. He’s also logged 10 quality starts in 11 trips to the mound.
In the mix: Adam Wainwright, Cardinals; Jeff Samardzija , Cubs; Julio Teheran , Braves; Tim Hudson , Giants; Zack Greinke , Dodgers
AL Rookie of the Year -
, White Sox
Obviously, the longer Abreu is out with his injured ankle, the more the field catches up to him. For now, though, he clings to the honor on the strength of his 15 homers and .595 SLG.
In the mix: Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees; George Springer , Astros; Xander Bogaerts , Red Sox; Yangervis Solarte , Yankees
NL Rookie of the Year -
What a deliriously weak crop of rookies in the senior circuit thus far. Owings takes it by default. He’s a regular shortstop who owns an OPS+ of 100 and runs the bases well. That’s far from spectacular, but it’s enough.
In the mix: Kolten Wong , Cardinals
AL Manager of the Year - John Gibbons, Blue Jays
The Manager of the Year has always been an award with somewhat nebulous criteria, but it generally goes to the skipper whose team defies expectations for the better and in the biggest way possible. Thus far in 2014, that’s been Gibbons’s Jays in the AL, without question. So it goes to him without much debate.
In the mix: Robin Ventura, White Sox
NL Manager of the Year - Mike Redmond, Marlins
The Marlins were a roundly terrible team in 2013, but in 2014 they’re a roundly decent team thus far. No Jose Fernandez likely means no contention over the long haul, but so far Redmond’s charges are surprising all of us.
In the mix: Ron Roenicke, Brewers; Bruce Bochy, Giants