September 22, 2012
MVP, Cy Young Award race in AL is on
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
There are two weeks to go until the end of the season, which means that itís time to take a look at the front-runners for the major awards.
We will restrict todayís column the American League race for the Most Valuable Player and Cy Young award.
For the time being we will dismiss the Rookie of the Year vote as that one has already been wrapped up by Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels.
There is also the Manager of the Year and that one is strictly a two-horse race between Bob Melvin of the Oakland Aís and Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles. Both are highly deserving.
However, letís get to it.
The leading candidates for the MVP award are Trout and Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers in no particular order.
Following the first two months of the season, it all seemed academic as Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers had a hammerlock on the award.
At the end of May, the Rangers outfielder had already slugged 21 home runs and driven in 57 runs while hitting at a .368 clip.
Nobody expected Hamilton to remain that red hot through the entire season but by the all-star game he had crashed 27 homers with 75 RBIs and had a 1.016 OPS.
Hamilton, however, crashed in the summer months and even tough he leads the major leagues with 42 home runs and has driven in 123 runs, he no longer flies in the rarefied air that Cabrera and Trout patrol.
Trout, all of 20, is a terrific player and there is no weakness in any aspect of his game. He not only is a five-tool player but he excels in every category.
In the field he is excellent defensively while on the base paths he is the league leader in both stolen bases with 46 and runs scored with 118.
He also is second in batting with a .327 average and has pop in his bat as his 27 home runs and 77 RBIs would suggest.
Cabrera, meanwhile, has an excellent shot at finishing the season with the Triple Crown by leading the loop in batting average, home runs and RBIs. If he accomplishes the feat, the Tigers third baseman would be the first player to accomplish the feat since Bostonís Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Heading into Fridayís games, Cabrera leads the league in average at .330 and RBIs, with 130. He sits second in home runs with 41, just one behind Hamilton who has missed the past few games with sinus issues.
If Cabrera wins the Triple Crown he will also glean the MVP award as it would be hard to believe that he could achieve one and not the other.
Trout, due to his speed and defence, is the better all-around player but offence trumps defence and a Triple Crown trumps everything else.
As a side note it will be interesting to see how many votes the Jaysí Edwin Encarnacion garners. Encarnacion is currently third in home runs with 40 and fourth in RBIs with 102.
The Cy Young Award will be another tightly contested affair with the Tigersí Justin Verlander and Tampaís David Price the two front-runners by a nose over the White Soxí Chris Sale.
As was the MVP, the Cy Young seemed to be wrapped up earlier in the season thanks to a dominate performance from Seattleís Felix Hernandez in July and August. In a 12-game stretch from June 28 through Aug. 27, King Felix went 8-0 with five complete-game shutouts. The creme de la creme, of course, occurred Aug. 15 when Hernandez tossed a perfect game against Tampa Bay in a 1-0 victory where he struck out 12 batters.
King Felix, though, has gone 0-3 in September in four starts and has dropped off the pace.
Verlander is once again near the top of the list. He is 15-8 on the season with a 2.74 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP and 223 strikeouts. He also is averaging 72/3 innings per start.
Price leads the league in both wins, with 18, and ERA at 2.58.
Sale, meanwhile, is second in the league in wins (16) and fourth in both ERA (2.88) and WHIP (1.08).
Price, however, pitches in the ultra tough AL East and that fact could bump him to the top of the parade.
Both the Tigers and the Tampa Bay Rays, however, find themselves back in the divisional and wild-card races and it may well be that the ultimate winners of the top two awards will not have taken part in post-season play.