By Ryan Mayer, CBS Local Sports
A little over a quarter of the season has been played, which means it’s time to hand out some early season awards. I’ll do these each quarter of the regular season as we track the best performances so far this season. Let’s start with the big ones.
AL MVP- Mike Trout
I know, I know this seems like the easy way out. Picking the guy that was the MVP of the AL last year. However, Trout has earned the top spot in the race with the way that he has continued to improve. His triple slash line of .295/.381/.532 is ridiculous. He’s on pace for close to 40 homeruns which would be a career high. He has only continued to improve each season, the proof of that this year is he has fixed a hole in his swing.
Miguel Cabrera has a legit case for this award as well. He’s sporting a .333/.441/.579 triple slash with 11 homers and 34 RBI. Seems Miggy is fully healthy and we could have another fun race for this award throughout the rest of the year.
AL Cy Young- Dallas Keuchel SP Houston Astros
Raise your hand if you had him as the leading candidate for the Cy Young when the season started? Anyone? Bueller? Anyway, Keuchel is 4th in the majors in ERA at 1.76, tied for 3rd in wins at 7, and opponents are only hitting .183 against him. He’s been dominant. He’s got a close second though in Felix Hernandez, who’s been just as unhittable this season. The reason I’m going with Keuchel is also because of his team’s success. The Astros have been one of the best stories in the majors this season and Keuchel is their ace.
AL Rookie Of The Year- Devon Travis 2B Toronto Blue Jays
Before you start screaming at me about the fact that he’s on the DL; I know. However, he’s been the best rookie of what is a weak field in the AL at the moment. When he has been on the field he’s been very good. Especially considering the fact that prior to this season he had never played above AA. In 36 games he hit .271 with 7 HR and 26 RBI. The guy I have my eye on to challenge for this is Carlos Correa, but that will depend upon when the Astros decide to call him up.
NL MVP- Bryce Harper RF Washington Nationals
I made this prediction before the year that this would be a break out year for the Nationals young star and so far it’s looking pretty good. In his 4th season he’s raised his average to .325, upped his OBP by over .100 points to .469 and is slugging .724. He’s also got 18 homers already, well on pace to set a new career high in that category. If you want a better idea of just how good Harper’s season is to this point, I direct you to Jonah Keri’s unbelievable statistical find. Currently, Harper has a 222 OPS+. You know how many players in their age 22 season have had a 200+ OPS+? Harper and Ted Williams. Those are the only two. So much for him being a bust huh?
NL Cy Young- Max Scherzer SP Washington Nationals
This could be the second year in a row the same team has swept the MVP and Cy Young awards in the NL. Scherzer has been even better in Washington than he was in Detroit, which I wasn’t sure was possible. He has certainly lived up to the massive contract he signed in the offseason so far. Sporting a 1.51 ERA that’s backed up by an equally nasty 1.77 FIP (fielding independent pitching) with a 0.879 WHIP Scherzer has been the ace that the Nationals signed him to be.
NL Rookie Of The Year- Kris Bryant 3B Chicago Cubs
Another guy who has done exactly what was expected of him this season, the Cubs uber-prospect has posted a .280/.396/.480 triple slash line in the first 41 games of his career. An early drought of homeruns has been erased now as he’s hit 7 over the course of the last month. If he continues this kind of pace, he will run away with this award.
Pace of Play Update
I told you we’d check in on the pace of play in the games as the season went along with the introduction of the new rules. After the first couple of weeks, the signs were encouraging with game time down about 8 minutes. It has continued that trend as Jayson Stark of ESPN says that game times were down 10 minutes in the month of May from 3:02 average last season to 2:52 in May. Certainly seems like the rules are working, the most efficient of which is making sure the players are ready to go as soon as we come back from commercial.
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him. Agree/Disagree? Thoughts, comments, complaints? Email him.