In the dog-days of the MLB season, players begin to emerge as the leading contenders for the annual awards such as MVP and Rookie of the Year. With teams past the .500 mark of the schedule, here are the mid-season predictions for this seasons awards.
NL ROY - Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
Had Rockies phenome Trevor Story stayed healthy, this would be his for the taking. But with Story's storybook season cut short due to injury, Seager is in position to catch up to Story's numbers.
Seager has 18 home runs, 50 RBIs, and is hitting an impressive .308 in his first full season with the Dodgers. He leads all National League rookies in hits, doubles, and walks this season. The kid knows how to get on base anyway he can.
One reason why I'd still consider voting for Seager over Story is the strikeouts. Story has 130 strikeouts this season to Seager's 86.
Seager's teammate Kenta Maeda will also receive votes, as he has a 3.23 era and 120 strikeouts in 120 innings.
AL ROY - Nomar Mazara, Texas Rangers
While Twins outfielder Max Kepler is steadily creeping up the list, Nomar Mazara's longevity in the majors will help him. He is the only American League rookie with 100 hits, and he is second to Kepler in home runs with 13.
Mazara also leads American League hitters in walks and has an impressive .335 OBP.
NL MVP - Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals
One of the best free-agent signings of the offseason has been Nationals infielder Daniel Murphy. He leads the National League with 138 hits and an incredible .358 batting average in 102 games.
He's hit over .345 in five of the last six months in Washington. He went off in May, hitting .416 in a season-high 118 at-bats.
Nolan Arenado will be another name to watch, as he leads the National League in home runs and RBIs. Although, the fact he plays 81 games at Coors Field could come into play to hurt him.
AL MVP - Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
I went back and forth between Jose Altuve and David Ortiz on this one, but Altuve's batting average just steals the show. He's hitting a league-leading .359 for Houston, while also mashing 19 home runs. He leads the American League in hits with 151, and is second in stolen bases with 25. Altuve is set to be a 20-20 player this season, and is one of the most underrated stars in the game.
Ortiz also has a compelling argument. In his farewell season, Big Papi is the only hitter in the American League to have a slugging percentage over 1.000. The next player on that list is Jose Altuve. The Red Sox's DH is second in the league in RBIs, and has 25 home runs already at the age of 40. What is most impressive about Big Papi this season is his strikeout/walk ratio. Ortiz has 54 walks and 54 strikeouts this season.
The last Cy Young co-winners were in 1969, but it might happen again in 2016. Teammates Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg have dominating this year. Strasburg is 15-1 with a 2.63 era this season with 161 strikeouts in over 133 innings pitched. Max Scherzer is 12-6 with a 2.87 era and a league-leading 198 punch-outs.
Looking at some of the more analytical numbers, the reason why these two could potentially split the award becomes clearer. The on-base percentage allowed by Scherzer and Strasburg are ranked second and third in the National League.
When you look at all the numbers, another name stands out: Clayton Kershaw. He leads in multiple categories this season and had a strong start to the season. However, he has not pitched since June 26 due to a back injury. Since he has missed over a month (and is expected to miss even more time) some of his numbers are deceiving.
AL CY - The Field
There are probably four or five pitchers with a legit shot. First is Blue Jay Aaron Sanchez with his league-leading 2.71 era and 11-1 record. Unfortunately, the plan is to move him to the bullpen to protect his arm for the long-term. While that could change and the team could implement a six-man rotation, the team would like to protect him.
White Sox pitcher Chris Sale will get another crack at the Cy Young award after finishing within the top six over the past four seasons. He leads the American League in wins, complete games, and WHIP. His clubhouse antics may deter some of the veteran voters.
Cole Hamels will also have another opportunity at the Cy Young in his first full season in the American League. He's 12-3 with a 2.89 era and 138 strikeouts. His 55 walks will spell trouble for him at the ballot box.
Marco Estrada of the Blue Jays doesn't have the nicest looking stats, flashing a 7-4 record with a 2.92 era, but his more analytical numbers are outstanding. His opponents on-base percentage is a league-best .253, and his OPS is number one at .588. He is also the leader in the clubhouse in H/9.
Finally, don't take your eyes off 2014 winner Corey Kluber. If he has a strong final two months of the season, his name will enter into the conversation.
NL Manager of the Year - Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs
Besides having the best record in baseball, there are many things to point towards with Joe Maddon. He has kept a locker room of young players in check, subdued the pressure that comes with rare success, and overcame major injuries early in the season. He's helped keep his team in the race despite losing Kyle Schwarber and Jorge Soler.
If Maddon wins the World Series in Chicago, it's a stone-cold lock for him to win his second-consecutive Manager of the Year.
Bruce Bochy will also be a name to keep an eye on, as he has helped his team overcome multiple injuries and departed players.
AL Manager of the Year - The Field
I have two names to watch for AL Manager of the Year: Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles and Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians. Both teams were coming off 81-win seasons in divisions that were expected to be incredibly tough. Baltimore lost free agents Gerardo Parra, Steve Pearce, and Wei-Yin Chen. It also seems as though every pitcher on their staff has been injured.
The Indians didn't suffer any major losses in free agency, but they have however fallen victim to the injury bug. Michael Brantley, Danny Salazar, Zach McAllister, Yan Gomes, and Carlos Carrasco are just some of the names they've lost this year to injury. Throw in losing Marlon Byrd to suspension, and things could have fallen apart quickly.
Executive of the Year - Theo Epstein, Chicago Cubs
Epstein has acquired a wealth of talent to help make the Chicago Cubs great again. Players such as Aroldis Chapman, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, Dexter Fowler, Austin Jackson, and Joe Smith are just some of the key players acquired by Epstein between the Winter Meetings and this weeks Trade Deadline.
There will be two other names to watch for this award. One is Jon Daniels of the Texas Rangers. He has been able to acquire talent over the past two seasons without giving up prospects such as Joey Gallo, Jurickson Profar, or Nomar Mazara. He was able to swing multiple trades for Jonathan Lucroy, Lucas Harrell, Carlos Beltran, and Jeremy Jeffress at the deadline. He also stole Ian Desmond late in free agency, and recovered from the losses of Yovani Gallardo and Mike Napoli.
The dark horse will be Yankees General Manager Brian Chapman for bolstering the Yankees farm system dramatically at the trade deadline. They acquired 12 players in four trades at the deadline, including for a future superstar in Clint Frazier from Cleveland.
Gold Gloves - American League
1B: Yonder Alonso
2B: Robinson Cano
3B: Adrian Beltre
SS: Jose Iglesias
LF: Melky Cabrera
CF: Kevin Pillar
RF: George Springer
Gold Gloves - National League
C: Buster Posey
1B: Paul Goldschmidt
2B: Chase Utley
3B: Nolan Arenado
SS: Freddy Galvis
LF: Christian Yelich
CF: Andrew McCutchen
RF: Jason Heyward
P: Zack Greinke
Silver Slugger - American League
1B: Miguel Cabrera
2B: Jose Altuve
3B: Josh Donaldson
SS: Xander Bogaerts
LF: Michael Saunders
CF: Mike Trout
RF: Mark Trumbo
DH: David Ortiz
Silver Slugger - National League
C: Wilson Ramos
1B: Anthony Rizzo
2B: Daniel Murphy
3B: Nolan Arenado
SS: Corey Seager
LF: Ryan Braun
CF: Yoenis Cespedes
RF: Carlos Gonzalez
P: Jake Arrieta
AL Comeback Player of the Year: Corey Kluber
NL Comeback Player of the Year: Giancarlo Stantonnull