At this point, we can be pretty certain of the identities of nine of the ten teams that will proceed to the post-season. The murkiest situation is in the AL Central, where the White Sox hold a two game lead on the Tigers. However, all but one of Detroit's remaining games are against Minnesota and Kansas City. The White Sox have to play the Angels and Tampa Bay seven times before this thing is over. I wouldn't count the Tigers out just yet.
So let's hand out the individual awards.
In the batter's box, Miguel Cabrera has emerged as the most powerful force in the game. And you have to respect the way he moved to a position he hadn't played in years in order to accommodate the Tigers' shiny new free agent. You also have to respect that he fought the position to a draw, which was more than said free agent could do across the diamond. Nevertheless, this one's a no-brainer to me, and I'm pretty sure that Trout will make the fans of Anaheim forget all about Salmon. By the way, most guys who have seasons this good at age 20 go on to have even better seasons. Gulp.
1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles
2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
3. Robinson Cano, New York
4. Adrian Beltre, Texas
5. Justin Verlander, Detroit
The defending World Champs said good-bye to their legendary (if enormously irritating) manager. They also lost one of the two greatest players in team history. Chris Carpenter has yet to throw a pitch, and Lance Berkman has played in just 31 games. They won't quite match last year's 92-70 record, but they're going to the post-season anyway. And the remarkable play of their backstop is a big reason why. As the four straight Gold Gloves acknowledges, the third Molina has long been recognized as one of the outstanding defensive players at his position - but over the past two seasons, he has unexpectedly developed into quite the offensive force. And he's got 12 stolen bases! He's a Molina! How can this be?
1. Yadier Molina, St. Louis
2. David Wright, New York
3. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
4. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee
5. Buster Posey, San Francisco
AL Cy Young
Two exceptionally well-qualified candidates, accompanied by a rather worthy group of also-runs. I wouldn't want to say either Verlander or Price has been better than the other guy - the quality they've given their teams this year has been too evenly matched. But Verlander's given his team 36 more innings of that quality, which is a pretty big deal.
1. Justin Verlander, Detroit
2. David Price, Tampa Bay
3. Chris Sale, Chicago
4. Matt Harrison, Texas
5. Jered Weaver, Los Angeles
NL Cy Young
The MLB award voters have always hated knuckleballers. They've also never much liked players on New York teams, at least not if there was a reasonable alternative. But Dickey's been as least as good as anybody else and he's worked the most innings. I don't see what else you can do, but I expect they'll think of something.
1. R.J. Dickey, New York
2. Kyle Lohse, St. Louis
3. Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati
4. Matt Cain, San Francisco
5. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
AL Rookie of the Year
The only controversy is whether Trout should be eligible for the award. Well, Darvish and Cespedes are eligible - it would be very, very wrong if Trout wasn't.
1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles
2. Yu Darvish, Texas
3. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland
NL Rookie of the Year
The kid's been really good. Not historically great, but darn good.
1. Bryce Harper, Washington
2. Wade Miley, Arizona
3. Norichika Aoki, Milwaukee
AL Manager of the Year
Obviously, Showalter's going to win - he's going to get a lot of the credit for his team's phenomenal record in one-run games. This skill - which consists mostly of being very, very lucky - is not something he's demonstrated at any previous point in his lengthy managerial career. Prior to this season, Showalter's teams had a losing record in one-run games; it is in fact entirely normal for successful managers to have a worse record in one-run games than they do overall. But the Orioles, finally, really are a much improved team this season, and Showalter can take some credit for that.
1. Buck Showalter, Baltimore
2. Robin Ventura, Chicago
3. Joe Girardi, New York
NL Manager of the Year
Why was this man out of work for so long? Okay, he can be more than a little prickly - way, way more! - to deal with, if you're a general manager. But all he does, and all he's ever done, is win. Which helps general managers keep their own jobs.
1. Dave Johnson, Washington
2. Mike Matheny, St. Louis
3. Dusty Baker, Cincinnati
And it makes a little more sense to choose All-Star teams at this time of year, no?
C - Joe Mauer, Minnesota. A nice bounce-back season. Apologies to Santana, Wieters, and Pierzynski.
1B - Albert Pujols, Los Angeles. This year both Encarnacion and Fielder were probably a little better at the plate than Albert the Still Pretty Great (although there's a large Ballpark Effect working against Pujols.) But EE spent more time at DH than at first, and Fielder (possibly the worst defensive player I've seen in a generation) should have.
2B - Robinson Cano, New York. What a player. I really admire Pedroia and Kinsler, and Kipnis is pretty impressive. But there's no argument for anyone else here.
3B - Miguel Cabrera, Detroit. The greatest hitter in the game, who just edges out the great defender with the very, very good bat,. After Cabrera and Beltre, there's a pretty large fall-off, although Longoria and Lawrie will likely have something to say about that next year.
SS - Elvis Andrus, Texas. It's a really tough one. Jeter has the best bat, but not much glove; Ryan has the best glove, but not much bat. The best two-way players were Andrus and Aybar, and I'm not sure which comes ahead of the other. Except alphabetically...
LF - Josh Willingham, Minnesota. Gordon is a great defensive player, and a pretty good hitter. But Willingham shares a birthday with me, so there.
CF - Mike Trout, Los Angeles. He leaves Josh Hamilton, Curtis Granderson, Austin Jackson, and Adam Jones in the dust. In the dust. Holy crap...
RF - Tori Hunter, Los Angeles. Between Hunter, Alex Rios and Josh Reddick, there's not a whole lot to choose from.
DH - Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto. Better him than Adam Dunn. Actually, Billy Butler and David Ortiz were the only full-time DHs who were actually good (and Ortiz missed as much time as Jose Bautista this season.)
SP - Justin Verlander, Detroit. By a nose over Price and Sale.
RP - Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay. Where did that come from?
C - Yadier Molina, St. Louis. Apologies to Buster Posey, who came up with an outstanding comeback season.
1B - Joey Votto, Cincinnati. He missed so much time that it's a good thing he'd already lapped the field. Given half a chance David Cooper would be about the fifth best first baseman in the whole damn NL.
2B - Aaron Hill, Arizona. Back on track, evidently, and he was just a little better than Phillips this year. Darwin Barney's defensive numbers are pretty eye-popping.
3B - David Wright, New York. Back on track, although he didn't really fall very far to begin with. Apologies to Chase Headley (where did that come from?)
SS - Jose Reyes, Miami. The best two way player. Is it possible that the NL doesn't have a great defensive shortstop these days?
LF - Ryan Braun, Milwaukee. The biggest difference between Braun and Melky? One of them beat the rap and one of them didn't.
CF - Andrew McCutchen, Pitsburgh. Apologies to Michael Bourn, who's been really good for the Braves. But McCutchen is a special player.
RF - Jason Heyward, Atlanta. Just turned 23 and he's already a grizzled vet beside Trout and Harper. Will be surprised if he doesn't win multiple MVPs.
SP - R.J. Dickey, New York. Edges out the good, if somewhat unglamourous, group.
RP - Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta. Just a little better than Chapman.