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Jose Altuve

MLB on Sling: Let’s Hand Out Some Hardware

Heading into the second to last week of the season, they still need to determine who will take the second Wild Card spot in each league, with the Minnesota Twins somehow holding a 1½-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the AL, and the Colorado Rockies 2 up on the Milwaukee Brewers for the final NL berth. As for the races for MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year, they’re all over, save one.

AL MVP: Jose Altuve

By the grace of Mike Trout’s busted thumb, Altuve is leading the league in WAR, hits, stolen bases and batting average, while having led the Houston Astros to the AL West title by 15 games and counting. If he stays the course, this will be his fourth consecutive season leading the league in hits, and the third time in four years that he’ll have lead the league in SB and BA. If Trout can somehow go on a tear and carry the Halos to the Wild Card spot, a la Vladimir Guerrero in 2004, he’d have an outside shot of overtaking Altuve, but don’t bet on it.

NL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton

Stanton’s second-half homer binge has been a sight to behold, and though he’s cooled off, he still has a shot at 60. Add to that a league-leading .632 slugging percentage, and a league-best 6.9 WAR, and you’ve got yourself an MVP. Joey Votto also has 6.8 WAR, but the Reds are dreadful; Nolan Arenado is nipping at their heels with 6.7 WAR, but too much of his value is on D, and his offensive numbers are inflated by Coors, as he’s Bryce Harper at home and Marcell Ozuna on the road, which is still pretty good, but… Finally, Paul Goldschmidt’s been getting some buzz, but he suffers from the Curse of Bobby Grich: does everything well, nothing better than anyone.

AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber

A month ago, this was Chris Sale’s trophy to lose. Guess what – he lost it. Since August, Kluber has gone 9-1 with a 1.52 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 77 innings, while Sale has gone 6-3 with a 4.25 ERA and 76 K’s in 53 innings. On the season, Kluber leads the AL in WAR (7.8), wins (17), complete games (5), shutouts (3), ERA (2.35), and ERA+ (197). If you squint really hard you could maybe still make a stat nerd case for Sale, but it would be dumb to bother.

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw

Despite missing a handful of starts due to injury and the Dodgers having gone on an epic skid late in the season, Kershaw somehow sits atop the NL with 17 wins and a 2.26 ERA, even after Monday’s loss, during which he gave up the first grand slam of his career. Honestly, this could go to Scherzer, but he and teammate Gio Gonzalez will split the Nats vote, and Zack Greinke has been too quiet to garner much attention. Kershaw’s 4.5 WAR is well off the pace, but in a year when no NL hurler has had a drop-the-mic season, one can imagine the voters giving Kershaw his fourth Cy Young – at least that’s how the Neyer/James Cy Young Predictor and I see it. But really, this could break any number of ways.

AL Rookie of the Year: Aaron Judge

Judge has authored what will surely go down as the worst second half of any player ever to win the RoY, with a .195 batting average while striking out in 34% of his plate appearances. But there’s no denying the season totals. Despite the swan dive, Judge leads the AL – not just rookies, but the whole league – in runs (117), homers (44), and walks (115), and is second in WAR at 6.7. By the end of the year, he also hold the rookie records for walks and strikeouts, marks previously held by Ted Williams (107) and Kris Bryant (199), respectively. Who knows what 2018 holds for this guy, but 2017 has been one crazy rollercoaster.

NL Rookie of the Year: Cody Bellinger

With two weeks to play he’s tied Wally Berger’s record set in 1930 for most homers by an NL rookie, with 38, and did so in more than 100 fewer plate appearances. He’s tops among NL rookies in runs, homers, RBI, OBP, SLG, and, of course, OPS, so, yeah, it’s safe to say he’s got this in the bag.



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All stats courtesy ESPN and Baseball Reference