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Clubhouse Leaders: MLB Awards Edition 2018 Featured

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Clubhouse Leaders: MLB Awards Edition 2018 (collage photos courtesy MLB)

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 approaching the one-quarter mark and what we see can start to be taken seriously. With just over 40 games in the books, a significant chunk of the 2018 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

Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels

They don’t come more obvious than this. Ohtani has been the first legitimate full-time two-way player in the major leagues in a century. That alone would be enough to earn him this spot. However, the fact that he has been excellent in both facets of the game – displaying home run power at the plate and devastating stuff on the mound – means that barring injury, this is Ohtani’s award to lose. If anything, his adjustment to the American game might mean the best is yet to come.

(Also noteworthy: Joey Wendle, Tampa; Miguel Andujar, New York; Tyler Austin, New York)

NL Rookie of the Year

Colin Moran, Pittsburgh Pirates

This one, on the other hand, has plenty of potential to be competitive. There are as many as half a dozen contenders – the reality is that Moran might not manage to stay atop the heap. However, the Pittsburgh third baseman has been a steady contributor to the Pirates, with a batting average near .300 and an OPS over .800. Again, the odds are good that he gets passed by midseason, probably by Acuna and/or Buehler.

(Also noteworthy: Walker Buehler, Los Angeles; Christian Villanueva, San Diego; Ronald Acuna, Atlanta; Joey Lucchesi, San Diego)

AL Cy Young Award

Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros

There are a handful of contenders for the AL’s best pitcher, but at the quarter mark, it’s tough to pick against Cole. He’s the league leader in strikeouts and has put up a sub-1.50 ERA and sub-0.75 WHIP. It’s hard to overstate just how dominating he has been over the first part of the season. The win-loss record hasn’t been sparkling, but everything else has been outstanding. Of course, Cole’s not even the only contender on his own staff – Justin Verlander and Charlie Morton have both been phenomenal. Still, as it stands right now, Cole’s the guy.

(Also noteworthy: Verlander; Morton; Chris Sale, Boston; Sean Manaea, Oakland; Luis Severino, New York)

NL Cy Young Award

Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

The odds would seem to be against Scherzer winning this award for the third season in a row (and fourth time overall), but there’s no disputing that he’s leading the pack as of right now. His ERA and WHIP are both miniscule, while his strikeouts are coming at an incredible clip – he’s averaging right around 14 Ks per nine innings. He’s among the league leaders in every category that matters and shows no sign of letting up. There are a couple of contenders – Arizona’s Patrick Corbin and New York’s Jacob deGrom – but for now, Scherzer’s the man.

(Also noteworthy: Corbin; deGrom; Carlos Martinez, St. Louis; Aaron Nola, Philadelphia; Gio Gonzalez, Washington)

AL MVP

Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

Is it a homer pick? Absolutely. Doesn’t change the fact that Betts is an outstanding choice here. Betts has been blazing hot, with a slash line well above .300/.400/.700. He’s got two three-homer games already this season. Throw in some strong defensive work and you’re looking at an MVP. He’s been a catalyst for an outstanding Boston start. Sure, there are plenty of guys with the potential to pass him – Baltimore’s Manny Machado has been as good as he’s ever been, Betts’s teammate J.D. Martinez has been phenomenal and of course, there’s always Mike Trout - but Betts is the man.

(Also noteworthy: Machado; Martinez; Trout; Francisco Lindor, Cleveland; Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles; Aaron Judge, New York)

NL MVP

Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves

This one might have been the toughest pick of the bunch. Not because Freeman doesn’t deserve the accolades – he’s been as great a hitter as always, with an OPS over 1.000. He’s served as a major piece of a Braves lineup that has shown surprising potency. Freeman is one of the most underrated offensive forces in the game, which actually makes it tough to think he can hold onto the spot – particularly with the players nipping at his heels. Young guys like Philadelphia’s Odubel Herrera and Freeman’s teammate Ozzie Albies have been great, but Freeman’s first quarter warrants notice.

(Also noteworthy: Herrera; Albies; Kris Bryant, Chicago; Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee; Nick Markakis, Atlanta; A.J. Pollock, Arizona)

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