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Clubhouse Leaders: MLB Awards Edition 2017

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Clubhouse Leaders: MLB Awards Edition 2017 (AP file photo)

Major League Baseball has the longest season of any of the major professional sports leagues, with 162 games to be played before reaching the October postseason. That many games leaves room for a lot of changes to happen over the season's six-month course.

We’re past the one-quarter mark, near the Memorial Day cutoff when what we see can start to be taken seriously. With right around 50 games in the books, a significant chunk of the 2017 season is in the rearview mirror. There have been some impressive performances thus far; let's look at one man's opinion regarding who would win MLB's major individual awards if the season ended today.

AL Rookie of the Year

Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

This one is a no-brainer. Aaron Judge has been one of the biggest stories in baseball so far this season. At the 45-game mark, Judge led the league in home runs with 16 and led all rookies with 34 RBI. Plus, he’s batting over .300 and slugging nearly .700. Even if the massive outfielder cools off, he’ll have to fall off a cliff to lose this award.

(Also noteworthy: Andrew Benintendi, Boston; Trey Mancini, Baltimore; Mitch Haniger, Seattle.)

NL Rookie of the Year

Antonio Senzatela, Colorado Rockies

This one was much tighter thanks to the excellent start by Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger (who I think ultimately wins the award), but mention has to be made of Senzatela’s excellence in MLB’s least pitcher-friendly park. With a 7-1 record and an ERA just north of three, his current pace looks unsustainable, but for now, this spot is his.

(Also noteworthy: Bellinger; Kyle Freeland, Colorado; Koda Glover, Washington.)

AL Cy Young

Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox

Yes, yes, this is a homer pick – but it’s also a good one. With all deference to Dallas Keuchel’s excellent start, with his undefeated record and sub-two ERA, Sale has been better. By some standards, he’s been historically good. He already has over 100 strikeouts. He has been dogged by a bit of bad luck and a lack of offensive support, so his win-loss record isn’t sparkling, but every other number is. This looks like it could be one of the better races this season, but for now, Sale’s at the top of the list.

(Also noteworthy: Keuchel; Ervin Santana, Minnesota; Lance McCullers, Houston; Jason Vargas, Kansas City.)

NL CY Young

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Because who else are you going to pick? While he hasn’t been QUITE as dominant this year as he’s been in seasons past, he’s still the best. He’s second in the league in ERA, third in WHIP, fifth in strikeouts and he leads the league in wins, with seven in 10 starts. He’s not light years ahead of the pack – Washington’s Max Scherzer has an awfully impressive collection of numbers, just as an example – but in the end, it’s difficult to go with anyone else. Time will tell, but for now, Kershaw is the man.

(Also noteworthy: Scherzer; Stephen Strasburg, Washington; Mike Leake, St. Louis; Zack Greinke, Arizona; Ivan Nova, Pittsburgh.)

AL MVP

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

The only reason not to vote for Mike Trout is awards fatigue. The guy has consistently been the best player in the league since he came up for good five years ago. In 2017, he’s better than ever – tied for the league lead in home runs and leading the AL in both OBP and slugging. Plus he’s got 10 steals and 36 RBI – both fourth most in the league. He’s as dominant a force as the game has seen in a generation, and while some other players are sporting good starts, Trout is undeniably the clubhouse leader.

(Also noteworthy: Judge; Miguel Sano, Minnesota; Avisail Garcia, Chicago; Francisco Lindor, Cleveland.)

NL MVP

Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

The National League has its own young star at the MVP forefront. Harper slumped last year after an MVP season in 2015, but he’s back with a vengeance this year. He’s leading the league in home runs and runs scored and is in the top three in both OBP and slugging percentage. He’s also fifth in RBI and sixth in batting average. But he was barely the best player on his own team – first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has had a start for the ages. There are a couple of other contenders as well – Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman might have taken this spot if he hadn’t gotten hurt last week – but for now, Harper I in the driver’s seat.

(Also noteworthy: Zimmerman; Freeman; Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona; Eric Thames, Milwaukee.) 

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