Written by: Tre LyDay – Staff Writing Intern (@trelyday03)
With the second half of the season well underway, guys are starting to leave their mark on the league. From rookies to established veterans everyone wants that feeling of an MVP award, or a Cy Young award. Earlier this year I gave my pre All Star break award predictions. Let’s update that list.
National League Rookie of the Year: Trevor Story
Earlier this year I had Steven Matz as my pick of Rookie of the Year, but after Trevor Story managed to cut down on his strikeouts, he’s actually put himself into the conversation for MVP. This year he has a line of .275/.349/.590 with a .939 OPS. He’s tied for third in baseball with 27 home runs and he’s tenth in baseball with 69 RBI’s. In his last 30 games he’s hitting .302 with 10 home runs and 24 RBI’s. The Rockies have one of the deadliest lineups in all of baseball, and their three four and five hitters are the catalyst for everything they do offensively, and Story is right in the middle of everything. He’s in competition with Corey Seager of the Dodgers for this award, and even though the Dodgers are most likely going to the playoffs I think Story has earned this award.
American League Rookie of the Year: Tyler Naquin
Tyler Naquin has skyrocketed onto the scene this year with his performance for the Indians. He was on the opening day roster and made his debut on April 5th, but he hadn’t made too much noise until the past month. In the last 30 games he has a line of .320/.393/.700 with eight home runs, and 20 RBI’s. The Indians do give him the leftie treatment, so he doesn’t play against left handed pitchers, but when he’s in the lineup against right handers he leaves his mark hitting .329 against right handers. The Indians are in first place right now, and with Michael Brantley still on the DL, he’s filled in nicely for them. Brantley is supposed to come off the DL in the near future, but I’m sure the Indians will have a tough time keeping him out of the lineup when the time comes.
National League Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg
This one is a no brainer. Strasburg is 13-1 on the season after I jinxed him before his last start. His last start against the Dodgers actually bumped his WHIP to a whopping one. He’s tied for 12th in baseball with a 2.83 ERA. Strasburg has been nothing short of spectacular, and he’s exactly what the Nationals thought he would be when they drafted him number one overall back in 2009. Earlier in the year I had Clayton Kershaw as my Cy Young award winner, but a back injury has had him sidelined for most of July, and could potentially sideline him for the rest of the season if he has to have surgery. If that’s the case there’s not much standing between Strasburg, and a Cy Young award.
American League Cy Young: Chris Sale
The American League doesn’t provide elite pitching like the National League. Mostly because you have to have good pitching to win in the National League, but nonetheless Chris Sale has been nothing short of spectacular this year. Even though he did decide to cut up the throwback jerseys before his last start, it doesn’t really affect his status as one of baseball’s elite pitchers. Even though he missed his last start he’s still tied for first in baseball with 14 wins, and his 3.18 ERA is good for eighth in the American League. His 129 strikeouts are good for fifth in the American League, and as we all know he can strikeout 10 plus games in a start on any given fifth day. His suspension for his blow up last Friday is for five games, so he probably won’t make his next start until Thursday July 28th, but when he gets back on the mound I don’t think he’ll miss a beat.
National League MVP: Nolan Arenado
I’m still sticking with Arenado for MVP. He’s having another fantastic season, and I still maintain it’s a travesty that he finished eighth in MVP voting last season. Currently he’s second in the National League behind his teammate Trevor Story with 25 home runs, and he still leads the National League with 76 RBI’s. Most people think of Arenado as a power hitter, which is true but he still has 109 hits on the season. Before you say it’s because of the thin air in Colorado you should know that he only has seven fewer hits on the road than at home. Post All-Star break he’s hitting .324, and every other month he has a batting average over .300. In the month of July he’s only hitting .267, so that means when August comes around pitchers beware, because he’s going to tear the cover off the ball. The Rockies have 64 games left in the season, 34 of which are in Colorado. The Rockies are also only six games back in the National League Wild Card race. Arenado can bolster his MVP case in the next 85 games, and maybe, just maybe lead the Rockies to their first playoff appearance since 2009.
American League MVP: Jose Altuve
The American League is known for their offense so deciding on who could be the MVP is tough, but if you had to pick one, it’s easily Jose Altuve. He’s been simply incredible all season. He’s provided power to go along with his .360 average on the season, and has an 1.003 OPS. He’s never had a season with more than 15 home runs, but he has 17 now with more than a month of baseball still to play. Even with the increased power numbers he’s still borderline impossible to strikeout, because he’s only struck out 40 times all season. He had been a leadoff hitter pretty much all of his career, but the Astros decided to move him to third in the lineup, and let George Springer bat leadoff to provide more RBI opportunities for Altuve, and he hasn’t disappointed. It’s been 94 years since a player hit .400 for an entire season. Altuve probably won’t get to a .400 average, but if anyone can do it, it’d be Altuve.