MLB Awards Race – Week of September 7

Who are the front-runners for the most significant individual awards?

As the season draws another week closer to its end, let’s take an updated look at the races for MLB’s most prestigious individual awards!

 

Leaders for the 2020 American League Most Valuable Player Award

 

1. Shane Bieber, CLE

(Last week: 1)

 

IP W L % K ERA WHIP
57.2 7 0 1.000 94 1.25 0.85

 

Shane Bieber had his shortest outing of the season Sunday against the Brewers, but was dominant nonetheless. He threw 5 IP of 1 ER, 10 K baseball, earning his seventh win of the season. Earlier in the week, he threw 6 IP with just 1 H and 0 ER against the Royals. Through nine starts, he has had double-digit strikeouts six times. He hasn’t given up a HR in his last 30 IP. Every start, except for his most recent one, has been a quality start and he has taken the ball every fifth game for the Indians since the season started. He is the number one reason they are just 0.5 GB in the division and, at this point in time, a runaway for the MVP and Cy Young.

 

2. Mike Trout, LAA

(Last week: NR)

 

R HR RBI SB AVG OPS wOBA
35 15 38 1 .295 1.071 .423

 

To no one’s surprise, Mike Trout has burst back onto the MVP scene with an absolutely monster week. He went 8-for-19 with 3 HR, 9 R, and 6 RBI. Granted, the Angels are way out of contention but that has not stopped Trout from winning the MVP multiple times in the past. Trout’s Hard Hit % is the highest of his career (55.4%) and while his strikeouts remain a little high, he is actually under-performing his .307 xBA to this point. Trout leads the AL in HR and R and although Jose Abreu currently has him beat in RBI, Abreu also has 29 more ABs than Trout this year, easily explaining the 2 RBI difference.

Bieber’s year has been so amazing that it would actually be surprising if Trout beats him out for MVP. Still, I wouldn’t put anything past the best player in the game.

 

3. Jose Abreu, CWS

(Last week: 2)

 

R HR RBI SB AVG OPS wOBA
28 13 40 0 .315 .980 .401

 

Trout and Abreu are neck-and-neck in this race behind Bieber, and Abreu has the advantage of being on a solid team that should make the playoffs. The White Sox first baseman didn’t do anything wrong to move down from 2nd to 3rd, either, it was just that Trout had such an incredible week. Abreu himself went 10-for-30 with 4 R, 1 HR, and 10 RBI. Those RBI helped pad his MLB-leading total of 40. Throughout his career, Abreu has been an RBI machine, so that figure is hardly surprising and he should be able to maintain his lead in this category over the last three weeks. Abreu is also riding a ridiculous 20-game hit streak that is the type of resume boost he may need to ultimately capture this award. He faces Pirate and Tiger pitching this week, so it would not be surprising to see him continue that hitting streak at all.

 

Leaders for the 2020 American League Cy Young Award

 

1. Shane Bieber, CLE

(Last week: 1)

 

IP W L % K ERA WHIP
57.2 7 0 1.000 92 1.25 0.85

 

Like the last few weeks, with Bieber in line for MVP, I fully expect him to take home this piece of hardware himself. For a description on Bieber, see his blurb under the AL MVP portion above.

 

2. Kenta Maeda, MIN

(Last week: 3)

 

IP W L % K ERA WHIP
48.2 4 1 0.800 56 2.77 0.72

 

Kenta Maeda leapfrogs Lance Lynn this week after churning out a pair of 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 K performances against the Tigers. Despite the odd similarities between the two outings, there was one key difference in the second one: Maeda only allowed 2 H and 1 BB. This stellar performance lowered his WHIP on the season to 0.72. That number is tied with Clayton Kershaw for the lowest among qualifying SP and is a key reason why he passes Lynn in the race for AL Cy Young (for the record, Lynn also has an outstanding WHIP as you’ll see, but not quite as good as Maeda’s). Maeda is lined up to face Cleveland on Saturday as he continues to try and catch Bieber in the race for Cy Young.

 

3. Lance Lynn, TEX

(Last week: 2)

 

IP W L % K ERA WHIP
57.1 4 2 0.667 63 2.67 0.99

 

Lynn falls to number three in the race after putting forward his worst outing of the season against the Astros this week. Over his last two starts, Lynn’s numbers are: 12 IP, 13 H, 9 ER, 5 BB, 13 K, 0-2 record. To be fair, those were against two fantastic offenses (Astros and Dodgers) and even with those two outings, Lynn’s numbers across the board are outstanding. Unfortunately for Lynn, in this exceptional pool of American League starters, those two outings might be enough to eliminate his chances for Cy Young. Lucas Giolito is breathing down his neck for this number three spot as well, so we’ll see if Lynn can maintain his current standing as he takes on the Angels on Tuesday.

 

Leaders for the 2020 American League Rookie of the Year Award

 

1. Kyle Lewis, SEA

(Last week: 1)

 

R HR RBI SB AVG OPS wOBA
30 9 23 2 .315 .918 .388

 

At this exact moment in time, Kyle Lewis and Luis Robert have the exact same number of games played (39) and at bats (143). This provides an awesome opportunity to see who really is on pace for the Rookie of the Year. The race has not been this tight all season, but for now, and probably just for this last week, I still think Lewis deserves it. Lewis’ OPS is an eye-popping .917 and his OBP (.400) is substantially better than Robert’s (.333). He’s walked more, struck out less, and has had much less of an up-and-down season. He’s been a steady offensive leader for the Mariners and his .315 BA easily leads all qualifying AL rookies. For now, it is still Lewis. Let’s talk next week.

 

2. Luis Robert, CWS

(Last week: 2)

 

R HR RBI SB AVG OPS wOBA
26 11 27 6 .266 .886 .365

 

You could pretty easily make the case that Robert has passed Lewis in the AL Rookie of the Year race. He leads all rookies in HR and RBI, and he leads all qualifying AL rookies in SLG%. He’s swiped six bags, four more than Lewis, and has six more doubles than his AL rookie rival. He’s been amazing in the field as well. Although it is of course a tiny sample size, he leads baseball in Outs Above Average with six. In second place, behind Robert, are noted defensive stalwarts Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kevin Kiermaier. Robert’s WAR (1.7) is also better than Lewis’ (1.6), though the margin is so slim and the sample so small for such a stat that I would be fine ignoring that. Regardless, Robert has put forward quite the resume for ROY and he is only getting better. Lewis will need to get hot to stave off Robert from stealing the award in these final three weeks.

 

3. Randy Dobnak, MIN

(Last week: NR)

 

IP W L % K ERA WHIP
39.2 6 2 0.750 21 2.72 1.26

 

James Karinchak is amidst a terrible stretch (last three appearances: 2.1 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 2 BS) and Ryan Mountcastle isn’t quite there yet sample-size-wise. Cristian Javier has been terrific, but not as good as Randy Dobnak. So, that is my long way of saying I have Dobnak here in third. Do I expect him and his abnormally high strand rate (83%) and over-performing ERA (2.72 with a 3.83 FIP) to be here next week on this list? I’m not sure. But, for now, he’s here. To his credit, after the Tigers absolutely scorched him for his worst outing of the season on August 29, he came back and pitched very well against them last week, tossing 5.0 scoreless innings and matching his season-high strikeout total of 4. His schedule has been a cake-walk over the last month+ (@Pit, @Mil, KC, @KC, @Det, Det), but you can’t hold that against him – he isn’t in control of his own schedule. With that said, he faces somewhat of a heartier challenge coming up against Cleveland this week. If he succeeds there, I think he will continue to hang around here. Regardless, don’t expect the extreme-ground-ball-pitcher to catch Lewis or Robert, of course.

 

Leaders for the 2020 National League Most Valuable Player Award

 

1. Fernando Tatís Jr, SD

(Last week: 1)

 

R HR RBI SB AVG OPS wOBA
43 15 39 7 .311 1.063 .432

 

There isn’t much to say here. To no one’s surprise, and for the millionth week in a row, Tatís Jr. is leading the race for NL MVP. He still has the highest Hard Hit % in baseball (65.8%) and is second (96.4 MPH) only to Miguel Sano (97.3) in average EV. Padres GM AJ Preller has brought in reinforcements for the Padres lineup and Tatis Jr. should continue to see a ton of at-bats over the last three weeks to help pad and cement his lead for NL MVP. You may be tired of hearing about him this season (personally, I’m not), but get used to it! He should be in MVP conversations for a long, long time.

 

2. Mookie Betts, LAD

(Last week: 2)

 

R HR RBI SB AVG OPS wOBA
32 13 31 6 .316 1.018 .418

 

In most seasons, with the pace that Tatís Jr. is on, no one else would truly be in the conversation for MVP. However, this is not most seasons. Mookie Betts is right there with Tatís Jr. in the MVP race and if the latter slumps at all in the final three weeks, Betts could swoop in and steal it from him. The stats across the board favor Tatís Jr. at the moment, but Betts has stayed within striking distance. He just put forward an outrageously good week, going 9-for-21 with 2 HR, 4 R, and 5 RBI. He only struck out twice! Betts is a stud and look for him to continue to make this a conversation as we close out the season.

 

3. Yu Darvish

(Last week: NR)

 

IP W L % K ERA WHIP
50.0 7 1 0.875 63 1.44 0.88

 

We have a pitcher in the race for NL MVP! It was difficult bouncing Manny Machado from this list and excluding names like Trea Turner, Trevor Story, and Marcell Ozuna, but it is time we start considering Yu Darvish‘s credibility in the MVP race.

The Cubs lead the NL Central by a 1.5 game margin over the Cardinals and that is largely due to Darvish’s ridiculous, Cy Young and almost-MVP worthy season. He has won seven-straight starts, two of which were against the 1.5 GB Cardinals, and hasn’t allowed more than 1 ER in any of them. He’s only walked more than one batter in a start twice and both times he still only walked two batters. He’s only surrendered 3 HR in 50.0 IP. He has been the Shane Bieber of the NL and should be considered not only for NL Cy Young, but for NL MVP votes as well. Without Darvish, the Cubs would be a middling team fighting to get to .500. With him, they are division leaders and as big a threat for the NL Pennant as any team not named the Dodgers.

 

Leaders for the 2020 National League Cy Young Award

 

1. Yu Darvish, CHC

(Last week: 1)

 

IP W L % K ERA WHIP
50.0 7 1 0.875 63 1.44 0.88

 

Darvish’s entry into the MVP discussion underscores his credibility as the favorite for NL Cy Young. For an explanation on how I feel about Darvish’s season and why I believe he is the favorite for the NL Cy Young, read above under his MVP explanation.

 

2. Jacob deGrom, NYM

(Last week: NR)

 

IP W L % K ERA WHIP
48.0 3 1 0.750 70 1.69 0.88

 

Here comes Jacob deGrom! While the reigning back-to-back Cy Young award winner has been absent from these articles as players like Max Fried, Aaron Nola, Trevor Bauer, and Sonny Gray put forward arguably slightly-better statistical seasons at various points, he is here and here to stay as we enter the final weeks of the season. Escaping from some weird Groundhog Day-esque situation in which deGrom faced the Marlins and only the Marlins for four straight starts, he finally got his hands on a new opponent and absolutely decimated the Phillies. Going toe-to-toe with fellow-Cy-Young-pursuer Nola, deGrom reminded a non-Marlins team of just how incredible he is. He tossed 7 IP of 1 ER, 12 strikeout baseball. He lowered his WHIP to a staggering 0.88 and his ERA to 1.69. I still have him behind Darvish and it will be difficult for him to catch him given how Darvish is throwing the ball, but no one should doubt deGrom’s ability to capture a third-straight NL Cy Young.

 

3. Clayton Kershaw

(Last week: NR)

 

IP W L % K ERA WHIP
36.0 5 1 0.833 41 1.50 0.72

 

While Nola, Fried, Gray, and Bauer have all put together fantastic seasons, each of them has recently hit a bit of a rough patch (especially Gray), relatively speaking to Cy Young-level performance. Clayton Kershaw, though, has been absolutely untouchable in his last four starts (26.0 IP, 29 K, 2 ER, 5 BB, 4 W). His volume isn’t quite there with the other four, but he still has a few weeks here to catch up and put forward another rockstar Cy Young resume. I wouldn’t expect him to realistically catch deGrom, let alone Darvish, but the future Hall of Famer is still an ace and has reminded us of that over the last month. This third spot really could have gone in six different directions (no one should be ignoring what Zac Gallen has done, who absolutely has a case to not only be #3 here but perhaps #2), but with Kershaw’s pedigree and last four outings especially, I went with him.

 

Leaders for the 2020 National League Rookie of the Year Award

 

1. Jake Cronenworth, SD

(Last week: 1)

 

R HR RBI SB AVG OPS wOBA
21 4 19 3 .336 .969 .400

 

Jake Cronenworth continues to lead the discussion for NL Rookie of the Year, despite a pair of Dodger rookie pitchers having stellar seasons. He had an unspectacular week last week, going 5-for-22 with 2 R, 0 HR, 2 RBI, and 2 SB. Nonetheless, it was promising that Cronenworth has started every single game since the Padres acquired Mitch Moreland, Austin Nola, and Jason Castro. I was a little worried he may lose a bit of playing time but in retrospect, that worry was a little silly, since he is absolutely smoking the ball this season. Dustin May and, arguably, Tony Gonsolin are right there with Cronenworth in this race. He will need to pick it up these final weeks to secure the award. But, for now, he is the favorite.

 

2. Dustin May, LAD

(Last week: 2)

 

IP W L % K ERA WHIP
40.2 1 1 .500 28 2.88 1.11

 

May pitched pretty well this week against the Rockies, tossing 5.2 IP and giving up just 3 H, 1 BB, and 2 ER. He earned a no-decision but the Dodgers ended up winning the game. His five Ks were his second-highest K total in a start since August 4. He is in line for an easy matchup this week as he will take on the Diamondbacks in Arizona on Thursday. Should he continue to keep runs off the board, start every fifth day, and slightly increase the paltry strikeout numbers, May has a chance to catch and surpass Cronenworth for NL Rookie of the Year.

 

3. Tony Gonsolin, LAD

(Last week: 3)

 

IP W L % K ERA WHIP
23.2 0 0 0.000 25 0.76 0.72

 

Devin Williams was a tough omission here, but for now, I’m sticking with Gonsolin. Gonsolin had his best start of the season on Saturday against the Rockies, throwing 6.0 IP with 8 Ks, 0 BB, 3 H, and only 1 ER (a Charlie Blackmon solo shot). The Dodgers just continue to churn out high-quality starting pitchers and Gonsolin is no exception. He has a massive test on the slate this week with him expected to take on the Astros on Friday. With the way he has pitched to this point, though, it is hard to be too concerned about him. His pitch count continues to rise and he’s gone at least six IP in two of his last three outings. If he has a great final three weeks and Cronenworth and May take a step back, it is not inconceivable that Gonsolin could win the award.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Pete Ball

Pete Ball is a graduate of Emmanuel College and a die-hard Red Sox fan. In addition to his work at Pitcher List, he co-hosts the Fantasy Baseball "Pitch Count Podcast." Follow him at @PeteBBaseball

  • Avatar Bob says:

    MVP is for hitters. Cy Young is for pitchers. Mike Trout is the easy MVP winner.

  • Avatar Aaron says:

    Kyle Tucker about to come on strong for the AL ROY.

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