Last season when Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown, it was all the talk. Now, half a season removed from that magical feat, Cabrera has not let up. With 95 runs batted in, 30 home runs and a .365 batting average at the break, Cabrera is on his way to POSSIBLY another Triple Crown season.
Yes, his home run total is seven behind American League leader Chris Davis (37). But other than that, Cabrera leads the AL in every major statistical category. From the Triple Crown stats to the rest, Cabrera is terrorizing baseball. He leads in runs scored (73), hits (132), walks (60), on base percentage (.458), and batting average with runners in scoring position (.443). Cabrera is second in total bases (244) and slugging (.674).
Cabrera is five RBIs shy of his 10th straight year with 100-plus runs batted in. He is on pace to win his third straight batting title and his third RBI title in four years. He has hit 30-plus home runs for the seventh straight year and has eclipsed 25-plus in every year except his rookie season (2003).
The only other person whom I would consider other than Cabrera is Davis. With a career-high 37 homers at the break, Davis tied Reggie Jackson’s AL record for most homers before the All Star game. Davis leads the AL in slugging (.717) and total bases (246) while currently second in RBI (93).
The down side to Davis is that even with seven more HRs and seven more doubles that Cabrera, he has only two more total bases. Cabrera has 24 more hits than Davis and is batting 50 points better. Davis has also struck out at nearly a 2 to 1 clip, 64 K’s for Cabrera as compared to 110 for Davis while managing just over 1 walk (38) for every two (60) Cabrera has.
Because of Cabrera’s dominance, he is my choice for the American League mid-season MVP.
The American League Cy Young Award is a little tougher with what I consider five quality choices; Yu Darvish (Rangers), Max Scherzer (Tigers), Bartolo Colon (A’s), Justin Masterson (Indians), and Felix Hernandez (Mariners).
Hernandez leads the American League in ERA with a 2.53 mark as well as in innings pitched at 138.2. He is third in strikeouts (140) and has the fourth highest win (10) total. Hernandez has done this while compiling almost a quarter of the Mariners total wins (43) this season.
Next we have Masterson, the ace of the Tribe. Like Hernandez, Masterson has 10 wins to go with the third most innings pitched (135.1) in the AL. He leads the league in shutouts (3) and complete games (3) while helping to keep Cleveland in the AL Central title race. Cleveland entered the break 1.5 games behind Detroit.
Speaking of Detroit, Justin Verlander is referred to as the “ace” of the staff, but this year, it has been Scherzer’s team. The right hander won his first 13 decisions of the year to pace the AL in wins. With 152 strikeouts (second in the AL) in 129.2 innings (sixth in the AL), Scherzer is only five K’s behind the league leader. His ERA (3.19) is currently ninth lowest in the AL.
The biggest surprise in the Cy Young race though has to be Colon. The A’s starter is 40 years old this year and is coming off a steroid suspension from last season. Despite the all of that, the righty has the second most wins (12) in the AL and a sparkling ERA of 2.70 (third lowest).
Colon has pitched more than 165 innings sine 2005 when he tallied 222.2 with the Angels. But, with 126.2 innings already this season, Colon could reach the 200 inning mark for the first time in nearly 10 years. With 15 walks this season, Colon not only has the fewest of any starter who qualifies for the ERA title at this point, but he also leads the AL in fewest walks per nine innings at 1.1. Colon also has the allowed the second lowest number of home runs (9) this season. The lowest (8) belongs to Derek Holland (Rangers), Bud Norris (Astros) and Matt Moore (Rays), all of whom have pitched fewer innings than Colon.
Finally we have Darvish. While the Rangers’ Japanese import might not have a great win/loss record (8-4), he leads the AL in strikeouts with 157 and has the sixth lowest ERA (3.02).
Looking at the starters statistics, it was a hard choice. But, in the end, my vote would go to Scherzer. Without him, the Tigers are most likely not in first place, even with their offense. Pitching wins championships.
Our final mid-season award is the American League Rookie of the Year and unfortunately, there is no one player that jumps out above the rest.
Only three starting pitchers have thrown more that 80 innings; Dan Straily (6-2), Justin Grimm (7-7) and Nick Tepesch (4-6). Of the three, Straily has the best ERA (4.28). Tepesch is not far behind with a 4.85 mark while Grimm’s is off the chart at 6.37.
Tepesch leads the three with 70 strikeouts in 16 starts. Grimm has 68 in 17 starts while Straily has 66 in 14 starts.
Offensively, Aaron Hicks leads all AL rookies with 8 home runs and is second with 24 RBIs, trailing Twins teammate Oswaldo Arcia (25 RBIs). Arcia has six home runs to go with his .257 batting average while Hicks is not even above the Mendoza Line (.197).
Jose Iglesias leads all AL rookies with a .367 batting average in 180 at bats. He also has 16 RBIs. Third baseman Conor Gillaspie is batting .248 with seven homers and 23 RBIs.
Looking at all these numbers, I see two candidates right now, Straily and Iglesias. Both had brief call-ups last season. Both have played in the minors this year and both play for teams that are in first place in their respective divisions.
Its a tough choice, but I am going to give my vote to Straily. This could change by the end of the year, but that’s the way I lean now.