The 2021 Major League Baseball season is now five weeks old. In last year's 60-game sprint, five weeks meant the season was halfway over. Back in our 162-game slate, we're only about 20 percent through the season. That means there's an awful lot of baseball still to be played. It would be laughable to hand out hardware at this point in time.
But it's also fun to take a look at where things stand from time to time. So let's briefly run through the major candidates and estimate the frontrunners for the four major awards (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year) in each league.
It's a crowded field and that's good. Toward the top we've got Mike Trout, obviously, but also his Angels teammate Shohei Ohtani (it'll be interesting to see how the voting body attempts to value his hitting/pitching combo if he continues on this path). Byron Buxton missed a few games but he's absolutely in the mix with his insane slugging and defense right now. Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez has re-emerged here and we should also mention Xander Bogaerts. White Sox rookie sensation Yermín Mercedes merits mention. How about Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.?
I think it's Buxton right now. He's truly putting together the potential we've dreamed about for years.
Keep an eye on Trout, though. The only player to ever win more than three MVPs is Barry Bonds (seven). Trout has three and he's right there so far.
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Ronald Acuña Jr. is all over the leaderboards and amazingly looks like he's getting even better. He's the pick right now, I believe, but there are plenty of guys right behind him. Former winners Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant (and even Buster Posey!). The Reds have a pair involved in Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos. Most would've expected Nationals slugger Juan Soto in the mix, but injury has knocked him down. Teammate Trea Turner has a case, though.
As noted, I believe it's Acuña right now, but Bryant might be second.
AL Cy Young
Shane Bieber, Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow are all right there, sitting far and away the top three in strikeouts while also being in the mix for WAR and ERA. Danny Duffy has a ridiculous 0.60 ERA right now, though, so he's certainly in thee mix. Carlos Rodón has only made four starts, but he's 4-0 with a 0.72 ERA, 0.64 WHIP and 36 strikeouts against nine walks in 25 innings. He also has the no-hitter. John Means threw a no-hitter that was very nearly a perfect game on Wednesday and is now 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA and 0.67 WHIP.
This is probably too close to call, but if I'm forced, I think I'd go Means right now.
Of course, it's even tougher to do this than MVP because we're only looking at four, five or six starts. One awful outing could completely remove someone from consideration at this point. Means probably wasn't the frontrunner until his no-hitter, for example.
NL Cy Young
The Brewers' duo of Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff definitely deserves a look. Others like Yu Darvish, Kevin Gausman and Aaron Nola have been great. This is all Jacob deGrom, however. Assuming his injury isn't serious, the smart money is on him taking his third Cy Young in four years.
AL Rookie of the Year
Yermín Mercedes in a blowout. The 28-year-old rookie is slashing .386/.426/.614 with five homers in 94 plate appearances entering Thursday. Maybe his biggest competition would be White Sox teammates Michael Kopech and Nick Madrigal.
NL Rookie of the Year
AL Manager of the Year
In general, this is the least exciting award and it's given to the manager of a team that is the most surprising and/or a breakout. Mike Matheny of the Royals and Scott Servais of the Mariners would probably be the frontrunners right now. I think you have to look in the direction of A's skipper Bob Melvin, too.
I'd go with Melvin, given the A's horrible start versus where they are now.
NL Manager of the Year
Looks like Giants manager Gabe Kapler right now. It would probably be unanimous as he surprisingly has San Francisco ahead of the Dodgers and Padres atop the NL West.