Early last week, I went examined the eight major BBWAA awards and what players might have a shot at each award with nearly three weeks remaining in the regular season. Given what a short season we're having, things can change quickly. Through each one, I tried to go a bit in depth and list as many names as were realistically in the conversation, given that roughly one-third of the season was still to be played.
This time around, we're only going to be talking about who can actually win the award. Now, things can change, especially in the MVP races. We've seen hitters go absolutely bonkers for 10 games and that could bring someone from off the radar into the winner's circle in this 60-game season. Still, we're only looking at the frontrunners and those within striking distance here as of Sept. 17, 2020.
While Freddie Freeman is making a serious push (I almost put all three above, but even going with two felt like a cop-out and I couldn't bring myself to say there are three frontrunners) with his ridiculous offensive slash line, I still think this is a two-man race between Fernando Tatis Jr. and Mookie Betts. Freeman is easily the best offensive player this season, but Tatis and Betts make beautiful music on defense -- at more premium positions than first base -- and on the basepaths. Call them co-frontrunners without forgetting about Freeman, with the latter having his best chance at winning this hardware in his career. You'd have a hard time convincing me one of these three doesn't end up winning the award.
Man, what breathtakingly gorgeous mess. There are so many players in this thing. I'll go with Tim Anderson because he's in a serious battle for his second straight batting title with D.J. LeMahieu, scores well in both versions of WAR and is playing for the team with the best record in the AL -- and it's as a fun, upstart team, which probably gives Anderson bonus points. Anderson's teammate Jose Abreu is also right here, as are Indians pitcher Shane Bieber and Yankees infielder LeMahieu (especially if the they continue their surge). There are a handful of other players who have a shot as well. This thing might go down to the last day of the season and it's possible someone I didn't even list will win. This is by far the most fun AL race.
NL Cy Young
I was all set to just put Jacob deGrom here while mentioning a few others in the mix and then deGrom only lasts two-plus innings while giving up three earned runs and striking out only one. He left early due to a hamstring spasm, but that could swing the race elsewhere. It goes to show how quickly a close Cy Young race can change this season. This thing is wide open. I'll go with Bauer by a nose right now due to the ERA, WHIP and strikeout leads, but, again, things can change so fast and there's basically no separation. Strong candidates are also Yu Darvish and deGrom. Others who have a shot here with a good finish and some help are Corbin Burnes, Dinelson Lamet, Max Fried (assuming he can return to form when he comes off the injured list Friday) and Aaron Nola. We could probably go a bit deeper, too. Nearly all of these guys have two starts left, so it's remarkable to have so many in the mix. Here's your most fun NL race.
AL Cy Young
There have been a handful of good-to-very-good AL pitchers this season. Shane Bieber, however, has been head and shoulders above the rest of the group. There's a tight race for second right now, but as of Sept. 17, Bieber would rightfully win this thing unanimously.
NL Rookie of the Year
Luis Guillorme of the Mets deserves mention for his amazing average and on-base chops thus far, but he likely hasn't played enough games to supplant Padres rook Jake Cronenworth, who has worked his way into an important lineup spot in one of the best offenses in baseball along with two MVP candidates (we didn't mention him earlier, but Manny Machado is set up for a top-five finish). Alec Bohm of the Phillies is one to watch here.
AL Rookie of the Year
I still think based at least partially on his team's position that Luis Robert would take this right now, but he has some serious company in Mariners outfielder Kyle Lewis. The hitting numbers for Lewis actually look a lot better, but Robert covers nearly all of the White Sox's outfield (seriously, sniff around for some highlights of his range, it's insane) and this isn't to say Lewis can't make plays (he can!), but that defensive edge ends up putting Robert ahead in WAR. I think that plus his team being so good puts him over the top, but I've been wrong before. Lewis would certainly be a fine choice.
NL Manager of the Year
It's a crowded field. Joe Girardi having the Phillies in playoff position after such a bad start will get consideration. David Ross in his first year righting the Cubs' ship after the 2019 collapse should get some run. Normally, I'd say the Marlins being in the playoff picture means Don Mattingly has to win. I just can't see anyone but Jayce Tingler taking this. It's his first year with the Padres and they are second only to the Dodgers in the NL.
AL Manager of the Year
Pretty easy, no? The AL's best record belongs to the White Sox. They were 72-89 last year. This isn't all the manager, but as things stand, Rick Renteria will win this. He is absolutely deserving of praise. If I'm right, that gives the White Sox the MVP, Rookie and Manager of the Year and the AL Central all four awards. If you're wondering if that might sway voters, no, it won't. Why not? Because each voter only gets one award vote. It's hard to see voter fatigue against a team when no one knows how everyone else is voting, especially with MVP and Rookie of the Year being close.