Before we all become consumed in the NBA Finals (or the Stanley Cup Finals, sure), it might be nice to see where we're at in the baseball season. For many fans of basketball and/or hockey, baseball has taken a back seat as the playoffs have been happening in those other sports. So to get you up to date on what's been happening, I'd like to present the Third-of-the-Way-Through-the-Season MLB Awards. We actually did this last year as a blog, but you know how it is coordinating 3 schedules. Nightmare. So I'll be flying solo on this one.
The AL MVP so far is Josh Donaldson, third baseman for the Oakland A's. He narrowly beats out a few other players, like Mike Trout, Nelson Cruz and Jose Bautista. But Donaldson has the most WAR (3.6) and the fifth-highest wOBA in the AL. He plays a premium position at third base, and not for anything, but he plays for the best team in the AL (which I know shouldn't matter but it's a thing to say).
As much as I want to say Yasiel Puig, and could reasonably say it, I'm going to have to go with Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. He's probably the best overall hitter in the NL, and oh by the way, he plays shortstop. If only the Red Sox had listened to me and picked him up in a mega deal involving Will Middlebrooks after the 2012 season. That definitely would have worked. I know things. They won the World Series.
AL Cy Young
While the intriguing Masahiro Tanaka has been dynamite, and Mark Buehrle has a lot of wins, I'm going to go with Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers. This is not an easy call, but Darvish has stats as good as anyone's, and is outperforming his peripherals. I like it when guys outperform their peripherals because those confuse me and take a lot of work to understand. This award could EASILY go to King Felix or the Indians' Corey Kluber, not to mention Tanaka or even Jon Lester (a bit of a stretch but he's like 5th).
NL Cy Young
This one might be even tougher than the AL Cy Young. In the AL, pretty much all the guys who have the best traditional stats also have the best advanced stats. In the NL, not so. The degree to which one puts value in a stat like FIP over ERA this early in the season is certainly debatable. Though Adam Wainwright, always a bridesmaid but never a bride, probably deserves this award, I'm giving the nod to Johnny Cueto of the Reds. He does lead baseball in ERA, but he likely won't stay there given his .186 BABIP. He also has a few more innings and strikeouts than Wainwright at this point. So yeah, sorry Adam. I promise that if you keep this up, I'll be giving you the nod in October for the real damn awards.
AL Rookie So Far
As good as Jose Abreu has been dingers-wise, he actually has not been better than Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox. While Abreu's wOBA and wRC+ best Bogaerts', Bogaerts plays a premium position (shortstop and sometimes third) and has truly awesome stats. A .296/.389/.427 slash line is pret-ty good, and he hasn't missed like 10 games, as Abreu has. The power hasn't come for Bogaerts yet, but it will. TRUST ME. Oh and btw, because I hate the Yankees, I'm going to say that Tanaka isn't a real rookie because he played in Japan, even though he's actually younger than I am by 5 days. Screw you, Masahiro.
NL Rookie So Far
The NL 2014 rookie class is nowhere near as strong as the AL's, but I'm going to go with Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings. Slightly below-average hitting production from a good defensive shortstop is very valuable. He beats out speedster Billy Hamilton because coverage of his speed is already annoying.
Most Surprisingly Good Team
The most surprisingly good team is baseball's best team, the San Francisco Giants. Just win the World Series every other year why dontcha. Geez. This was a team that many people thought would compete, but few thought they'd be 7.5 games up on the Dodgers at any point this year. I'm also mostly picking them so that Jon is mad at me for not picking the Brewers.
Most Surprisingly Bad Team
If I had written this like a week ago, it would have been the Red Sox probably. At this point in the year, there are only a few teams that are REALLY bad, and few are huge surprises (Cubs, Diamondbacks, Astros even though they're playing well). The one that does surprise is Tampa Bay, with a record of 23-34. Their very thin margin for error is catching up with them. But I kind of still think they could win this division. They're 10.5 games back of the high-flying Blue Jays, but one has to believe that these 5 teams of the AL East will be pretty even down the stretch. Don't count the Rays out for this year necessarily, but because this is a third-of-the-way-through post, they're it.
AL Silver Sluggers
P (heh): Justin Verlander (two hits is tied for the lead and 1 run scored)
C: Yan Gomes, Indians
1B: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays (not Miguel Cabrera, heh, weird)
2B: Howie Kendrick, Angels
3B: Josh Donaldson, Athletics (obvz)
SS: Alexei Ramirez, White Sox (just slightly better than Bogaerts)
LF: Nelson Cruz, Orioles (more than half of his games have been in LF compared to DH)
CF: Mike Trout, Angels
RF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
DH: Victor Martinez, Tigers
NL Silver Sluggers
P: Travis Wood, Cubs
C: Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers (there you go Jon)
1B: Freddie Freeman, Braves (there you go Sean)
2B: Chase Utley, Phillies (still?)
3B: Luis Valbuena, Cubs (not Todd Frazier because I like OBP more than slugging)
SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (duh)
LF: Seth Smith, Padres
CF: Carlos Gomez, Brewers
RF: Yasiel Puig, Dodgers
DH (heh): Carlos Quentin, Padres
Best Player Yet To Be Mentioned
Shout out to Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins. He's second or third in the NL MVP race, and just didn't fit into any of these categories. He's having an unbelievable year and I wouldn't be surprised to see him win the real award once the season is over.
That's it, fam. Peace in the streets.