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)
I am now officially the only member of Three Up, Three Down whose team has been no-hit this year, though Brian’s Texas Rangers did their best earlier this week to beat me to it. I figured I should be the one to write this post to not only prove I’m not in a deep depression following yesterday’s game, but to man up and accept defeat.
We got beat. Badly. No-hit, in fact (although it was the second time in recent years we had a chance to beat an AL West team without getting a hit – last time, Jered Weaver and the Angels in 2008). By six different pitchers, no less.
I’m not going to come on here and spew half-truths about the historic moment, and tell you how much harder it is to collect a hit off six different pitchers, as opposed to one who you see with the same repertoire all game. Or try to claim that Dee Gordon was safe at first in the ninth inning (upon further review, I’ve determined the throw beat him…or was at least close enough to not cause a Carlos Beltran-esque uproar). And as much as I’d like to, I won’t take Mapes’ suggestion that it’s all Juan Uribe’s fault (it is…it always is).
Let me instead, first, congratulate the Seattle Mariners. Six pitchers did their jobs in fantastic, hitless fashion, and they deserved it. And it’s a damn shame that starter Kevin Millwood tweaked his groin warming up in the seventh inning, because he was absolutely rolling against the Dodger lineup.
As much as it would have hurt to be no-hit in the traditional sense, Millwood is a good guy and it could have been against a less likable pitcher. Do I believe we would have eventually tagged Millwood for a hit? Yes. But I’m also optimistic. The way he was throwing, who knows?
One thing I do know is this: I wrote a post on LasordasLair.com yesterday detailing the Dodgers’ 29 (now 28) games before the All-Star break. I warned of a letdown against the Mariners and A’s, the two worst teams on a slate that includes the Angels twice, the Giants, the Reds, the Mets, the White Sox…you get the picture; it’s a tough schedule.
Let’s just say things didn’t go as planned to start that schedule off. But the M’s are going to be good. And soon. Maybe not 2012, maybe not even 2013, but in a couple of years this ball club is going to be contending in that division. I said it before the no-hitter, and I’ll say it again. Seattle 2014. Watch out.
We know the young lineup can score runs (remember when they dropped three touchdowns on the Rangers?), and the pitching has been very impressive. And I don’t just mean Felix Hernandez and a bunch of bums. Half of their roster is in their first or second years in the Majors, and they are playing very respectable baseball.
Anyway, back to the point. This young, talented Seattle team will be a force in the coming years. And I’ll always remember being the first team to be no-hit by them.
Yes, I know that’s a rusty, dingy silver lining, but I’m optimistic, remember? Speaking of optimism, one good thing came out of yesterday’s games and trumped being no-hit for Dodgers fans (muahaha!):
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) June 9, 2012
I leave you with some cool, random combined no-hitter facts. One for each pitcher the Mariners used yesterday:
– The first combined no-hitter involved Babe Ruth, who walked the first batter of the game, was ejected for arguing, then sat and watched his teammate Ernie Shore retire 26 in a row to secure a no-no.
– Kevin Millwood became the third pitcher in MLB history (along with Vida Blue and Kent Mercker) to both start a complete game no-hitter and a combined no-hitter.
– In 1997, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon combined to pitch the only extra-inning combined no-hitter in MLB history, a 3-0, 10-inning victory over the Houston Astros.
– These 2012 Mariners aren’t the first to record a six-pitcher no-hitter – the Houston Astros did the same to the New York Yankees in 2003, after Roy Oswalt left the game with an injury after one inning.
– One pitcher in history has both started and finished a no-hitter. Mike Witt threw a perfect game in 1984, and then closed out the last two innings of a no-hitter in 1990 (over the Mariners, ironically enough).
– Rookie reliever Stephen Pryor was the winning pitcher of record for the Mariners yesterday – it was his first career win, despite recording one out and walking two batters, easily the most unproductive of the six Seattle pitchers.
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at @3u3d, Like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/3u3dpodcast and to TUNE IN to Episode 15 next week – I guarantee we’ll be talking about this no-no, and I’ll be getting tons of crap for it!