Let the handicapping begin. There are still a couple of weeks left, which is certainly enough time for these provisional seedings to change.
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit - Contrary to popular belief, leading the league in RBIs no longer helps very much in the MVP balloting. But how Cabrera has accumulated all those RBIs is itself pretty interesting - he's hitting .404/.532/.815 with runners in scoring position, which is... well, I don't know what it is. It looks like a video game with a cheat code, not baseball. His home park gives him a boost? Maybe, but away from Comerica Cabrera is hitting .332/.431/.672 with 27 HRs and 76 RBI. This ain't Josh Hamilton in 2010, people. No, he's not nearly as good a defensive player as Mike Trout (not that Trout has been all that great this year) - but the fact that the Tigers can actually get by playing Cabrera at third base is itself extremely valuable. Otherwise you'd be swapping Victor Martinez's bat for Don Kelly's, and while Kelly's glove will save a few runs compared to Cabrera's, I'd say the team is gnereally better off having Victor Martinez's bat in the lineup - and that too is part of Cabrera's value.
Honourable Mention - Mike Trout, Adrian Beltre, Chris Davis, Robinson Cano, Manny Machado, Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson, Joe Mauer, Jason Kipnis.
AL Cy Young
Max Scherzer, Detroit - Two weeks ago, I thought he was the obvious choice. However, the very excellence of Scherzer's W-L record had actually created some resistance to acknowledging just how good his season has been. These days people always want to find a reason not to vote for the guy with all the wins. If Scherzer had been 15-5 rather than 19-1, I don't think there'd have been much debate at all about whether he should win the award. So now - he's helping out. He's gone and lost a couple of games, he's given up the ERA lead. He'd be letting the rest of the pack into the discussion, if the pack had actually produced a legitimate challenger.
Honourable Mention - Chris Sale, Yu Darvish, Anibal Sanchez, James Shields
AL Rookie of the Year
Jose Iglesias, Boston-Detroit - Of course he's not going to hit this well in years to come. But he did hit that well this year. Not that he needs to hit that well to be a very useful player, especially in Detroit where they have a first baseman playing third base because they've got a designated hitter playing first base.
Honourable Mention - Chris Archer, Wil Myers
AL Manager of the Year
Terry Francona, Cleveland. As bad as the Indians were in 2012, they were also extremely lucky not to have a far worse record than they did. A year ago, the Indians played almost as well as Baltimore in the close games (24-12) - it's the only reason they didn't lose 100 games. Which is why I wrote at the end of last season, that "This team stinks, and Terry Francona has a lot of work to do." Well. A lot of work appears to have been done.
Honourable Mention - Bob Melvin, John Farrell
Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh. Duh. The second most obvious winner of one of this year's awards.
Honourable Mention - Andrelton Simmons, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Carpenter, David Wright, Paul Goldschmidt, Shin-Soo Choo, Joey Votto, Carlos Gomez, Yadier Molina
NL Cy Young
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles - Duh again. The most obvious winner of one of this year's awards. Yes, he gets a lot of help from Dodger Stadium, but he's got an ERA of 2.29 on the road this season. He's the best pitcher in the world right now.
Honourable Mention - Jose Fernandez, Francisco Liriano, Matt Latos, Jhoulys Chacin,
NL Rookie of the Year
1. Jose Fernandez, Miami - A historically great rookie season, of course. A historically great season for a 20 year old, too. When Jeff Mathis was his catcher, Fernandez has more or less been the exact same guy Dwight Gooden was in his 20 year season (you know, the 24-4, 1.53 season.) As a hitter, Fernandez batted .220/.216/.340 for an OPS of .556, which is better than how the National League hit against him (.182/.257/.265, OPS of .522). That sort of thing has happened before, of course, but not nearly as often as it used to. It's always pretty cool when it does.
Honourable Mention - Yasel Puig, Hyun-Jin Ryu
NL Manager of the Year
Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh - There were some problems. The guy who had been one of the Pirates best hitters over the last couple of seasons (Garrett Jones) suffered an alarming decline. This helped contribute to Pittsburgh having the very worst offensive production in the NL at both first base and right field - those being the two positions where Jones splits his time with a grim collection of nobodies like Gaby Sanchez, Jose Tabata, and Travis Snider. One of their all-stars, pitcher Jeff Locke, went on an 0-3, 6.57 run after the All-Star game. That was roughly when another all-star, closer Jason Grilli, went on the DL for an extended period. The Pirates coped with all of these issues, and are about to put an end to an entire generation of futility. It can be done, Jays fans.
Honourable Mention - Fredi Gonzalez, Dusty Baker
It surely makes more sense to choose your all-stars when you've got the entire season to consider, no?
C - Joe Mauer, Minnesota.
1b - Chris Davis, Baltimore.
2b - Robinson Cano, New York
3b - Miguel Cabrera, Detroit.
ss - J.J. Hardy, Baltimore.
lf - Alex Gordon, Kansas City
cf - Mike Trout, Los Angeles
rf - Shane Victorino, Boston .
dh - David Ortiz, Boston
rhp - Max Scherzer, Detroit
lhp - Chris Sale, Chicago
rp - Joe Nathan, Texas.
C - Yadier Molina, St Louis
1b - Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
2b - Matt Carpenter, St Louis
3b - David Wright, New York
ss - Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta
lf - Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado
cf - Andrew Mc Cutchen, Pittsburgh
rf - Jay Bruce, Cincinnati
rhp - Jose Fernandez, Miami
lhp - Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
rp - Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta