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Clubhouse Leaders: 2019 MLB Awards Edition – Third Quarter Featured

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Clubhouse Leaders: 2019 MLB Awards Edition – Third Quarter (AP file photo)

And down the stretch they come.

We’re in mid-August and entering the home stretch of the Major League Baseball season. By the time you read this, teams will have roughly 40 games left until playoff time. It looks like there are some foregone conclusions, but also a few hard-fought races – particularly for some of the squads battling it out for wild card spots.

The competition for MLB’s individual awards looks a little different. We have a little bit of turnover from midseason, but it has mostly been holdover chalk; some of our picks at the halfway mark have really solidified their positions. While we’ve got a couple of two- or three-man races, it’ll really take some leaps for anyone else to crowd their way in. But hey – six weeks is a LONG time. And a lot can happen. We’ll just have to see how it plays out.

This is Clubhouse Leaders.

(Note: All statistics through Aug. 12.)

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AL Rookie of the Year

Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros (Midseason: Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays)

Yeah, it’s crazy that a guy who hasn’t even played 50 games yet is in the driver’s seat, but what can I tell you? Alvarez has been on a blistering pace since the moment he hit the majors, slashing .355/.431/.733 while hitting 17 homers and driving in 51. It’s impossible not to reward that, even if he’s played 30 fewer games than the guy he replaced. Lowe is still having a dynamite season, but his steadiness pales in comparison to the absolute tear we’ve seen from Alvarez. If the Astro really hits a wall, maybe someone retakes the lead. But he’s going to have to drop precipitously for anyone else to have any sort of chance.

(Also noteworthy: Lowe; Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto; John Means, Baltimore; Michael Chavis, Boston)

NL Rookie of the Year

Pete Alonso, New York Mets (Midseason: Alonso)

It might look like this is an easy pick, but rest assured it’s not. Alonso is having an undeniably great season – his 38 home runs lead all rookies by a mile and he’s a shoo-in to demolish the league rookie HR record barring the catastrophic. He’s driven in 85 runs to go with all those dingers, slashing .258/.363/.592. And yet, one could still make a legitimate argument for Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres. It’s a different greatness, one that features elements of speed and defense that Alonso lacks. He sports a .315/.378/.591 slash line; he’s got 22 homers, yes, but he’s also got half-a-dozen triples and 16 steals. That said, it’ll be awfully tough to not give it to the record power display.

(Also noteworthy: Tatis Jr.; Christian Walker, Arizona; Mike Soroka, Atlanta; Brian Reynolds, Pittsburgh)

AL Cy Young Award

Justin Verlander, Houston Astros (Midseason: Verlander)

The Houston renaissance continues for Verlander, whose performance since coming to the Astros is likely sealing the deal for his Cooperstown case. He’s been incredible thus far, with a real shot at the pitching Triple Crown – his 15 wins and 2.82 ERA lead the league, while his 217 strikeouts are second, just nine behind teammate Gerrit Cole. Verlander sports a 0.85 WHIP as well. All this despite also leading the league in home runs allowed. Amazing stuff. Cole’s making a pretty good case for himself as well, with the aforementioned league-leading K total enhanced by his 14 wins, 2.87 ERA and 0.98 WHIP (all second to Verlander). Some other guys are having strong seasons – Tampa Bay’s Charlie Morton and Cleveland’s Shane Bieber, for example – but no one really looks ready to surge past the two Astros atop the list.

(Also noteworthy: Cole; Morton; Bieber; Mike Minor, Texas; Wade Miley, Houston; Lucas Giolito, Chicago)

NL Cy Young Award

Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals (Midseason: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers)

This might be the biggest reach of the bunch, though there’s no disputing that Scherzer’s having another outstanding season. His win total is suppressed a bit – he’s got just nine on the season – but we all know that pitcher wins aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. He is the league leader in strikeouts with 189, while he sits third in the league in both ERA (2.41) and WHIP (0.99). That said, it’s still a gut call, because Scherzer is definitely hurt and Ryu’s numbers remain staggering. The shiniest of the lot is the 1.45 ERA, nearly a run better than Scherzer; it would be the lowest ERA since MLB lowered the mound a half-century ago. He’s got a dozen wins, a league-leading 0.93 WHIP and an 11-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. However, there remains a smoke-and-mirrors vibe to Ryu’s season; one imagines that finesse simply won’t be able to carry the day forever. So I’m going with Scherzer despite deep-down knowing better.

(Also noteworthy: Ryu; Mike Soroka, Atlanta; Jacob deGrom, New York; Luis Castillo, Cincinnati; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles; Walker Buehler, Los Angeles)

AL MVP

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (Midseason: Trout)

What the heck else am I going to do here? Mike Trout continues to show that he is a generational talent, an all-timer who is easily the best player of his era. He’s got the impressive slash line - .295/.439/.662 (the latter two are league-leading numbers). He’s got the counting stats – 39 homers and 92 RBI (again, both league leaders). He’s scored 91 runs and walked 97 times. Oh, and elite centerfield defense and baserunning. Everyone else is playing for second at this point, though there are a few guys who would be in the mix were Trout a mere mortal. Houston teammates George Springer and Alex Bregman have both had impressive campaigns – Bregman sits third in OBP, while Springer is third in slugging and both are top-five in OPS. New York’s D.J. LeMahieu has made himself a down-ballot possibility with his league-leading .338 batting average. Boston’s got a handful of guys having great seasons. Still, there’s little doubt that Trout has this one in the bag.

(Also noteworthy: Springer; Bregman; LeMahieu; J.D. Martinez, Boston; Rafael Devers, Boston; Nelson Cruz, Minnesota; Carlos Santana, Cleveland; Xander Bogaerts, Boston)

NL MVP

Christian Yelich, Milwaukee (Midseason: Yelich)

Yet another holdover, but what am I supposed to do? Yelich is having an elite offensive season, leading the league in all three slash categories (.335/.427/.703) as well as in home runs with 39. He’s driven in 84 and scored 82. Oh, and he’s got 23 steals in 25 attempts as well. He’s got a shot at a 50-30 season, which has happened exactly never times before. And an historic run is what it’s taken to keep Cody Bellinger off this perch. In another year, Bellinger’s .317/.416/.703 line, with 38 homers, 89 RBI and 91 runs scored, would run away with it. Instead, he’s looking up, though it should be noted that some metrics deem Bellinger the superior player thanks to elite defense. Washington’s Anthony Rendon is having another excellent season that will fly under the radar. Pete Alonso will have to content himself with the ROY, though he’ll see down-ballot looks. It’s nuts to think that Yelich could still lose this thing, but a hot streak from Bellinger could get him there.

(Also noteworthy: Bellinger; Rendon; Alonso; Ronald Acuna, Atlanta; Charlie Blackmon, Colorado; Trevor Story, Colorado; Freddie Freeman, Atlanta)

Last modified on Tuesday, 13 August 2019 16:00

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