It’s May Day! Meaning the first month of the MLB season is in the books, also meaning it’s time for the monthly awards rankings. Last year, I finished by picking four of six awards correctly, missing out on NL Rookie of the Year (I still think Wade Miley should’ve won) and AL MVP (ditto Mike Trout). Here’s who I think is in line for some hardware after April.
American League Rookie of the Year
Silver Medal: Nick Tepesch, Texas Rangers
Normally, we do a top three with a bronze medal, but the American League rookie crop is so poor right now that you’re only getting two. Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Aaron Hicks both had promise coming into the year and underwhelmed. Wil Myers or Dan Straily should hurry up and get called up and take the award you’re supposed to win. Tepesch has been solid for the Rangers going 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA and an inpressive 14:3 K:BB ratio.
Gold Medal: Justin Grimm, Texas Rangers
Unfortuately for Tepesch, his teammate has been slightly better for now. Grimm is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA and a 15:4 K:BB ratio that’s been impressive in place of Matt Harrison. There’s still plenty of time for someone to step up and become the frontrunner for this award.
In the Running: Stephen Pryor, Seattle Mariners
National League Rookie of the Year
Bronze Medal: Jim Henderson, Milwaukee Brewers
Unlike the American League, there is a plethora of rookie candidates in the NL that had a great start to the season. Jim Henderson has wrestled away the closer’s role in Milwaukee from John Axford and isn’t giving it back. He’s six for six in save chances, with a sparkling 0.75 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 12 innings.
Silver Medal: Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves
It’s clear that Gattis has been the best rookie hitter in the Majors leading all MLB rookies with six home runs and 16 RBI. He’s journey back to baseball has been nothing short of remarkable. Can he keep it up though is the main question. Especially with Brian McCann returning from injury, there might not be a daily spot in the Braves lineup for El Oso Blanco.
Gold Medal: Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals
If Tony Cingrani of the Reds had been called up for one more start this month, he might be in the top spot. For now, I’m giving the edge to Shelby Miller who’s been everything Cardinals fans hoped he would be in place of Chris Carpenter. Miller is 3-2 with a 2.05 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 30.2 IP this season.
In the Running: Tony Cingrani, Cincinnati Reds, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers, and A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks
American League Cy Young
Bronze Medal: Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners
My love for Hisashi Iwakuma has been strong from the preseason. Iwakuma is only 2-1, but has 1.67 ERA and leads MLB in WHIP at 0.69. He’s also become more in command of his pitches with a fantastic 7.4 K:BB ratio. The Mariners have a formidable 1-2 punch now with Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez. All due respect to Yu Darvish, who leads the American League in strikeouts, I have a feeling he’ll crack the top three at some point this season.
Silver Medal: Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays
It’s a close call for the top spot and Matt Moore gets the short end of it for now. He’s given the Rays rotation a great boost as defending Cy Young winner David Price has been a little bit of a disappointment thus far. Moore leads the American League in wins, ERA, and hits/9 innings, but his inability to work deep into games keeps him in the silver spot.
Gold Medal: Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox
It’s really splitting hairs between Buchholz and Moore, but I’m going to give the razor-thin edge to the Red Sox starter. Both pitchers are 5-0, Buchholz has slightly worse ERA and WHIP, but has gone deeper into games for Boston. Buchholz also has the advantage over Matt Moore in WAR and is tops in the AL in that stat.
In the Running: Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez, Detroit Tigers, Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers, Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners, and Hiroki Kuroda, New York Yankees
National League Cy Young
Bronze Medal: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw or Verlander? Who’s the best pitcher in all of MLB? That’s a debate for another day, but right now based on the stats, Kershaw has been 3rd best in the National League. The Dodgers ace finished the opening month with a 1.71 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and is tied for 2nd in the National League in strikeouts.
Silver Medal: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
Wainwright looks fully back from Tommy John surgery and better than ever. His streak of not walking a batter to start the season reached epic proportions and leads the league in K:BB, wins, and innings pitched. He sports a beautiful 2.03 ERA and 0.99 WHIP and hasn’t given up a home run yet this season. Let me repeat, HE LEADS THE LEAGUE IN BATTERS FACED AND HASN’T GIVEN UP A HOME RUN TO ANY OF THEM. Amazing.
Gold Medal: Matt Harvey, New York Mets
Who would’ve thought that when the Mets traded 2012 NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, they would have another Cy Young contender this year? Harvey has been a revelation for the Metropolitans going 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA and a league-leading 0.81 WHIP. It’s a shame that he’s not eligible for Rookie of the Year, because he’d be leading that race as well.
In the Running: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants, Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler, Washington Nationals, Mat Latos, Cincinnati Reds, Jake Westbrook, St. Louis Cardinals, and Paul Maholm, Atlanta Braves
American League MVP
Bronze Medal: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
The defending AL MVP picked right up where he left off in 2012. The Triple Crown winner is hitting .363 and is tied for the lead in runs batted in with a player we’ll get to soon. Could there be back-to-back Triple Crowns in the works?
Silver Medal: Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
Probably the best player this season you haven’t heard anything about. Santana leads the American League in batting average, on-base percentage, OPS, and offensive WAR. He’s blossomed into the AL’s Buster Posey so far this season, we’ll see if he can keep it up. If the Indians can make the playoffs with Santana performing at this level, he’ll be the MVP.
Gold Medal: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
He’s cooled slightly since his blistering start to the season, but “Crush” Davis leads the AL in home runs, runs batted in, total bases, and slugging. He’s even hitting .348 with a great .448 OBP. He’s one of the reasons the Orioles are proving 2012 wasn’t just a fluke. Let’s not forget his clutchness too!
In the Running: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees, Coco Crisp, Oakland Athletics, Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers, Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox, and Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers
National League MVP
Bronze Medal: Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati Reds
I may have made a mistake having Carlos Gonzalez over Choo on my preliminary All-Star Game ballot last week. Choo has been a fantastic pick-up for the Reds. He’s hitting .337 with a league-leading .477 OBP, that has paced the Cincinnati lineup. He’s also 4th in the NL in runs scored, OPS, and total bases. That was a great trade for the Reds so far.
Silver Medal: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
It’s entirely possible that Harper is about to repeat Mike Trout’s twenty year-old season (minus the stolen bases). He’s 3rd in the NL in offensive WAR and leads the league in OPS and OPS+. Harper also is hitting .344 and getting on base at a .430 clip, both top five in the league. It’s going to be beat into the ground that he’s doing this before he can legally drink, so get used to it.
Gold Medal: Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves
It’s pretty safe to say that Justin Upton enjoys playing with his brother B.J. The younger Upton has almost carried the Braves lineup leading the National League in home runs, slugging, runs scored, total bases, and offensive WAR, while hitting .298. If Upton can start to hit better with runners in scoring position, he could have one of the greatest seasons in Atlanta Braves history.
Who would win your awards after April? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
The 2013 MLB All-Star Game is 83 days away, but never fear you can start voting for your favorite players today here. You get 25 votes that gets bumped up to 35 if you log in with your MLB.com account. Of course there are still paper ballots that can be found at every stadium and the MLB Fan Cave for you to fill out. While I don’t fill out mine until I get a better grasp of who deserves it (like that ends up mattering) here’s what my ballot would look like on April 24th.
American League: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles Davis is off to a hot start for Baltimore. He’s hitting .382 with an AL-leading 7 home runs coming into the games on the 24th. Mike Napoli and Prince Fielder have cases and Napoli would be my pick if he was on the ballot at catcher, not first base. (Runner-up: Prince Fielder, Tigers)
National League: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds The power numbers aren’t there, but Votto-matic is automatic at getting on base leading the league with 26 walks so far and a crazy .485 OBP. The next highest walk total is 16 by David Wright. (Runner-up Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers)
American League: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees I can make a case that Robinson Cano is the MVP of the American League right now. Then you can make the case that it’s April 24th and that’s stupid. (Runner-up Ian Kinsler, Rangers)
National League: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds It must be nice for Phillips to just get to drive in OBP-machines Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo getting on base ahead of him all the time. He leads NL second baseman in RBI and is tied for the lead in home runs. Plus, he’s the best defender at the position in the league. (Runner-up Daniel Murphy, Mets)
American League: Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics Lowrie has been quite a coup for Billy Beane’s boys. Lowrie leads AL shortstops in runs, RBI, and batting average. (Runner-up: Jose Reyes, Blue Jays, I’m not joking either)
National League: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies Why have the Rockies been surprising in 2013? A healthy and hitting Troy Tulowitzki is a big part of it. He leads NL shortstops in home runs, RBI, and runs, while hitting .292. (Runner-up: Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers)
American League: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers The defending AL MVP is off to a quiet start, but is still among the league leaders in hits and is best among AL third sackers in batting average. (Runner-up: Evan Longoria, Rays)
National League: David Wright, New York Mets I really wanted to have NL batting leader Chris Johnson here, but Wright has had the overall better start to the season, especially on the basepaths. There’s a lot of depth here right now with Todd Frazier, Pablo Sandoval, and Martin Prado off to solid starts. (Runner-up: Chris Johnson)
American League: J.P. Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays Napoli not being on the ballot at catcher is Arencibia’s gain for now. He leads the American League in home runs with eight after another one on Wednesday. He’s my least likely from here to be on my actual ballot in a couple months. (Runner-up: Carlos Santana, Indians)
National League: John Buck, New York Mets Let’s just sum up Buck’s start with this meme. (Runner-up: Evan Gattis, Braves, wait he’s not on the ballot?!?)
American League: Coco Crisp, Oakland Athletics, Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox, and Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles These three have been the best all-around outfielders in the American League this season. It’s not my fault that they’re all center fielders. (Runners-up: Austin Jackson, Tigers and Alex Rios, White Sox)
National League: Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves, Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies, and Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals There is a ton of depth at National League outfield right now. You could take the next four on my list and make a case they deserve it on to the squad. Justin Upton has been hands-down the best hitter in the game so far this season, it’s ridiculous that he’s still on pace for 90+ home runs. (Runners-up: Shin-Soo Choo, Reds, Dexter Fowler, Rockies, Ryan Braun, Brewers, and Andrew McCutchen, Pirates)
American League: Mark Reynolds, Cleveland Indians Reynolds has been a great find for Cleveland with seven home runs and 18 RBI, both are top ten in MLB right now. (Runner-up: Travis Hafner, New York Yankees)
Who would you have on your All-Star ballot on release day? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
We’re back for another look into the hottest pickups and stay-aways in fantasy baseball in week two. I haven’t looked at the numbers yet as I write this, but if Jarrod Parker who burned me the 1st two weeks of the season isn’t here, I’m going to be sad.
Week Two Pops
Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves, C: ESPN +81.6%
El Oso Blanco isn’t messing around. He’s not just a great story, but he sure can hit. Gattis became just the 42nd player since 1916 to have 10 RBI’s in their first nine career games. He has four home runs and is playing everyday between catcher and first base with Freddie Freeman on the DL. Things will become iffy for Gattis’ playing time when Freeman and Brian McCann come back, but for now, the clean-up hitter on one of the better lineups is a must-own at catcher. I’ll also give some love to last weeks pop John Buck who was added in another 70% of ESPN leagues this week. Buck has been amazing for the Mets offense.
Paul Maholm, Atlanta Braves, SP: ESPN +52%
One of my predicted pops from last week, Maholm hasn’t given up a run yet this season. Since that’s not going to continue, I hope you snagged him and can sell high to help you elsewhere, go right ahead.
Jim Henderson, Milwaukee Brewers, RP: ESPN +81.3%, CBS +27%
John Axford is out of the closer’s role for now. If you didn’t pay for saves, snap up Henderson if he’s still out there. It’s better than trying to catch fire with the Cubs bullpen that is without Kyuji Fujikawa and won’t give the job back to Carlos Marmol. If I had to own on Cubs reliever, it’d be James Russell. Same goes for the Tigers bullpen, but at least they have a pitcher the manager says will get the 9th inning work in Joaquin Benoit.
Chris Carter, Houston Astros, 1B: ESPN +30.3%, CBS +28%
Don’t be afraid of the words “Houston Astros”, their players can help your fantasy team too. Carter has pop (four home runs in 2013, 16 in 2012 in just 218 at-bats) if you’re looking for power, Carter can help you at a corner infielder or utility spot. He’s still available in a lot of leagues.
Predicting next week’s pops: Tommy Milone, Athletics, SP, Joaquin Benoit, Tigers, RP, Daniel Nava, Red Sox, OF, Tony Cingrani, Reds, SP, Emilio Bonifacio, Blue Jays, OF, and yes I still like Chris Johnson, Braves 3B/1B
Week Two Drops
Jarrod Parker, Oakland Athletics, SP: ESPN -45.4% CBS -20%
Man, has Parker been frustrating. He was supposed to have a two-start week in week one that got changed into one start. He then proceeds to get rocked in his actual two-start week against the Angels and the Tigers. He’s gone from a must-start to spot-starter in two weeks.
Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox, OF: ESPN -43.9%, CBS -17%
One of the best players in spring training hasn’t carried it over to the regular season. Bradley could be on the verge of a ticket back to the minors for some more seasoning. His defense might be what saves him from that fate, but defense doesn’t count in fantasy baseball.
Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers, C: ESPN -40.9%
Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners, C: ESPN -40.5%, CBS -10%
For Gattis and Buck to be added in the amount of leagues they have, someone needs to take the fall and it’s Lucroy and Montero for now. I would definitely throw them on to a watch list and at the sign of them heating up, pick them back up. The walk-off home run for Lucroy on Sunday against the Cardinals, could be that turning point.
Predicting next week’s drops: Franklin Gutirrez, Mariners, OF, Ben Revere, Phillies, OF, J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays, C
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
It’s the best story of the young MLB season so far. Braves backup catcher Evan Gattis was working as a janitor and a ski lift operator after being a star baseball player in Texas. Instead of going to play for Texas A&M, Gattis ended up in drug rehab and a halfway house. There he was diagnosed with depression. He had turned into a “what could’ve been” story. After years of bouncing around odd jobs and becoming sober, Gattis got the itch to play the game he loved as child again.
He enrolled at the University of Texas-Permian Basin. I don’t know what that is either. I only know Permian as the town from “Friday Night Lights” not the place where Major League careers are made. Gattis hit .403 in his only year with the school, but it was enough to catch the eye of the Braves who took a chance on him in the 23rd round of the 2010 draft.
He had his chance in the minors finally and crushed pitching hitting .308 with 44 home runs in 832 minor league at-bats. A shoulder injury to Brian McCann gave Gattis an outside shot of making the Braves roster as a 26-year old rookie who had never played in AAA. Gattis saw his opportunity and ran with it hitting a blistering .368 with six home runs (2nd best on the Braves) during Spring Training. Gattis became a fan favorite with his power, bare-handed batting grip, funky batting stance, awesome nickname (El Oso Blanco), and his backstory. After all he had been through, Gattis broke down in tears when manager Fredi Gonzalez told him he earned the last roster spot as Gerald Laird’s backup while McCann was out.
In the second game of the season, Gattis received his first start behind the plate. He struck out in his first plate appearance, but his 2nd at-bat with his father being interviewed on the Braves broadcast, we were reminded why sports can be so great.
The MLB highlight can be found here. Apologies that it won’t let me embed it into the blog.
You can follow Gattis on Twitter @BulldogBeing, where of course his Twitter avatar is his work card from being a janitor. Gattis is a shining example of never giving up.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)