Friday, July 19, 2013

2013 American League Midseason Awards

It's Friday afternoon, the very end of the All-Star break, meaning it's now been two and a half days without any baseball, or four and a half, if you choose not to count the All-Star Game itself. Given how long these days feel, I don't know how I ever get through the winter months. As we take out final breaths before the second half begins, I figured I'd hand out my picks for midseason awards in each league. I'll also try my hand at predicting who actually wins each award at the end of the season. Predictions are fun, because they give people something to point at and laugh about later. I posted my National League choices earlier today, now for my American League selections.

MVP

Chris Davis having an awfully impressive season, and while I expect he'll fall off a bit, I don't think he's going to collapse. He's absolutely in this race. Mike Trout doesn't seem to be getting as much attention as he did last year, but his hitting numbers are practically identical to last season's (2012: .326/.399/.564; 2013: .322/.399/.565) and he could wind up with a lot of supporters again. I sided with Trout last season, and it wasn't a very difficult decision. Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown last year, and that's a cool accomplishment, but it didn't mean he was the better player. Cabrera though, you may or may not have noticed, has been even better this season. His .365 BA, .458 OBP, and .674 SLG would all be career highs, should he keep this up. His wRC+ of 202 is incredible. The last AL player with a number that high was Frank Thomas in the strike-shortened 1994 season. Before that, you have to go back to Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle in 1957.

My choice: Miguel Cabrera

Others who'd be on my ballot: Robinson Cano, Chris Davis, Josh Donaldson, Felix Hernandez, Manny Machado, Joe Mauer, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Mike Trout

Who actually wins it at season's end: Miguel Cabrera. I expect his production to dip (how could it not?), but he's still going to post massive numbers and his team is likely headed to the playoffs (shouldn't matter in this discussion, but does). He's got a 43 point lead in batting average (over Trout), and Davis is the only player ahead of him in home runs (37 to 30) or within shouting distance of him in RBI (Cabrera leads 95-93, no one else has more than 72), which means he could win his second consecutive Triple Crown. Just because BA and RBI aren't the most telling hitting numbers out there, doesn't mean that wouldn't be a very, very cool accomplishment.

Cy Young

There are a lot of candidates here. Yu Darvish has incredible strikeouts numbers and a strong overall profile, but needs to cut back on the number of home runs he's allowing if he's going to win. Justin Verlander hasn't been as sharp as he was the last couple years, but has also had very poor luck on balls in play, further deflating his numbers. I wouldn't entirely count him out though, because no one's best is better than his. Derek Holland and Bartolo Colon (age 40!) are both pitching really well too. Clay Buchholz and Anibal Sanchez have the best numbers on a per-inning basis, but injuries have kept either of them from throwing enough innings for me to consider them. For me, three guys have created a little distance between themselves and the field:

Felix Hernandez: 9.09 K/9, 1.69 BB/9, 0.71 HR/9, 2.66 FIP, 149 ERA+
Chris Sale: 9.83 K/9, 2.03 BB/9, 0.83 HR/9, 2.94 FIP, 154 ERA+
Max Scherzer: 10.55 K/9, 2.15 BB/9, 0.83 HR/9, 2.68 FIP, 133 ERA+

Hernandez has also thrown a few more innings (138.2) than Sale (120.0) or Scherzer (129.2), which is enough of a difference to give him a slight edge in my book.

My choice: Felix Hernandez

Others who'd be on my ballot: Chris Sale and Max Scherzer

Who actually wins it at season's end: Felix Hernandez. If the voting were held right now, Scherzer would win, because in addition to a strong ERA and the second-most strikeouts in the AL, he's got a shiny 13-1 record, which is toon shiny a bauble for many voters to ignore (even though they should). Scherzer's not going to finish 23-2 though, and I think Felix out-pitches him over the second half and stays close enough in the win department (he's only three behind) to win his second Cy Young.

Rookie of the Year

Among position players, Boston's Jose Iglesias certainly has the best numbers, with a .367/.417/.461 line). Leonys Martin (Texas) has put up solid offense while also playing strong defense in centerfield. Nick Franklin (Seattle) and Yan Gomes (Cleveland) have also hit well, while successfully covering tough positions (2B and C, respectively). Among pitchers, you've got starters like Dan Straily (Oakland), who's been about league average and in the rotation almost the entire season, and Chris Archer (Tampa Bay), who's been well above average since being called up at the start of June. Tampa Bay also has Alex Torres, who's allowed just one run in 26.1 innings of relief. For now, I think Iglesias has to get the call, the offense he's provided is especially valuable coming from a shortstop.

My choice: Jose Iglesias

Others who'd be on my ballot: Leonys Martin and Alex Torres

Who actually wins it at season's end: Chris Archer. Iglesias has a .414 BABIP, which isn't going to last. Plus in his last 20 games, his line is just .267/.317/.293. He's begun falling already, and I expect that to continue, though his end-of-season numbers should still be good. Archer has been great, only a lack of innings keeps him off my ballot at the moment. I expect him to continue to pitch well and by the end of the season he'll have thrown enough innings to draw more attention.

2 comments:

  1. Kuroda keeps getting overlooked in articles predicting MLB award winners. The guy's been great in assuming ace duties for the Yanks.

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    1. I think Kuroda is behind that top 3, but you're right, he's having a great season and merited mention among the other guys I named.

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