Bleacher Report's First-Quarter MLB Season Awards
Believe it or not, the first half of the 2014 Major League Baseball season is already halfway over. Put another (and simpler) way, we're now a quarter of the way through the campaign, so it's time to check in with an update on the 10 prominent individual awards smack dab in the middle of May.
Click on through to find out who's leading the charge in each league for Manager of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young Award winner and MVP. Also included? A batch of honorable mentions for all five categories.
Because, hey, there's still three-quarters of a season left to go.
AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics
Already a two-time winner of this hardware with the Athletics in 2012 and the Diamondbacks in 2007, Bob Melvin nets the first-quarter MOY for his ability to successfully shuffle his lineup and pitching staff. The man simply knows how to use—and get the best out of—all 25 players on his roster. Having an AL-best 25 wins doesn't hurt either.
Major props to Brad Ausmus, who is in his first season as a manager—at any level—and has the Tigers sporting the best winning percentage in the majors. Wouldn't blame you for picking him over Melvin.
Honorable Mentions: Ausmus, Detroit Tigers; Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles; John Farrell, Boston Red Sox
NL Manager of the Year: Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants
Despite his memorable miscalculation on a replay challenge that wound up costing the Giants a game back in early April, Bruce Bochy gets the nod here in a tight four-manager race. The 1996 MOY winner with the Padres, Bochy has guided the Giants to the best record in the NL after a disappointing 2013.
Honorable Mentions: Walt Weiss, Colorado Rockies; Mike Redmond, Miami Marlins; Ron Roenicke, Milwaukee Brewers
AL Comeback Player of the Year: Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels
When an all-time great and future Hall of Famer starts out the first quarter of the season by becoming the 26th member of the 500 home run club, he's pretty clearly the choice.
At 34, Albert Pujols isn't what he was in his prime, but after playing most of last year with knee and foot injuries, the latter of which cost him the final two months, he's healthy. And doing damage again.
Honorable Mentions: Melky Cabrera, OF, Toronto Blue Jays; Mark Teixeira, 1B, New York Yankees; Derek Jeter, SS, New York Yankees; Drew Hutchison, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays; Dustin Ackley, OF, Seattle Mariners; David Murphy, OF, Cleveland Indians; Corey Hart, OF, Seattle Mariners; Chris Young, RHP, Seattle Mariners
NL Comeback Player of the Year: Tim Hudson, RHP, San Francisco Giants
This one could go to a certain Cincinnati Reds right-hander who's leading the majors in ERA, but we've got him lined up for another, bigger award. So Tim Hudson with his sparkling 2.09 ERA and 0.81 WHIP is the pick.
After Hudson's April 30 gem in which he threw 8.2 innings while allowing a mere five baserunners and two runs against the Padres, Bochy had this to say of his right-hander, via Rick Eymer of MLB.com: "He just put on a clinic. He stayed down the whole game, had good movement, changed speeds and threw strike one. If you want to show young pitchers how to do it, that's how you'd do it."
Following the gruesome ankle injury that cost him the final two-plus months of 2013, the 16-year vet has bounced back to look good as new. Or in this case, old. Hudson is 38.
Honorable Mentions: Johnny Cueto, RHP, Cincinnati Reds; Dee Gordon, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers; Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs; Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers; Josh Beckett, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers; Aaron Harang, RHP, Atlanta Braves; Casey McGehee, 3B, Miami Marlins; Angel Pagan, OF, San Francisco Giants; Michael Morse, 1B/OF, San Francisco Giants; Jason Hammel, RHP, Chicago Cubs
AL Rookie of the Year: Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
Folks, settle in, because we're going to be watching and enjoying this fantastic AL ROY race all summer-into-fall long. As incredible as Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees has been (6-0, 2.17 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 10.2 K/9), Jose Abreu squeaks out the first-quarter win.
Why? Well, the latest Cuban sensation is leading baseball with 15 home runs, won AL Rookie and Player of the Month for his historic April and is doing all this in his first taste of the majors during a pitching-dominated era.
"Every time it's a big situation, [Abreu] makes a pitcher pay if he makes a mistake," teammate Gordon Beckham told Alex Espinoza of MLB.com after Abreu's latest homer, a three-run shot in the eighth inning, proved to be Wednesday's game-winner. "He's a stud, there's just no way around it. He's going to be really good for a long time."
And for now, too, it's Abreu's award. Don't worry: Tanaka just might show up elsewhere.
Honorable Mentions: Tanaka, RHP, New York Yankees; Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals; Yangervis Solarte, 2B/3B, New York Yankees; Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox; Josmil Pinto, C, Minnesota Twins
NL Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds
To be blunt, this award doesn't measure up to the other nine, simply because no first-year player in the NL really has established himself in the bigs yet, let alone distinguished himself from the pack.
We'll give it to Billy Hamilton, who's been much better as the Reds' leadoff hitter of late and has played some great defense in center (see video). We don't feel all that good about it, though.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks; Mike Olt, 3B, Chicago Cubs; David Hale, RHP, Atlanta Braves; Chris Withrow, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers; Aaron Barrett, RHP, Washington Nationals; Carlos Martinez, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
AL Cy Young: Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, New York Yankees
Admittedly, this one wasn't easy to call. By virtue of his Wednesday night start, a four-hit shutout over the New York Mets (above), Masahiro Tanaka overtook Jon Lester for the top spot here.
There's a glut of great pitching in the AL—just check out some of those names in the Honorable Mentions below—but the Yankees' $155 million man has been the best in the circuit so far. And worth every penny.
"I don't know that you expect anyone to go 6-0 to start out a season when you're a rookie and it's the first time you're on a schedule like this," manager Joe Girardi said, per Barry Bloom of MLB.com. "He's special."
Honorable Mentions:Jon Lester, LHP, Boston Red Sox; Felix Hernandez, RHP, Seattle Mariners; Yu Darvish, RHP, Texas Rangers; Max Scherzer, RHP, Detroit Tigers; David Price, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays; Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers; James Shields, RHP, Kansas City Royals; Scott Kazmir, LHP, Oakland Athletics; Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals; Sonny Gray, RHP, Oakland Athletics; Garrett Richards, RHP, Los Angeles Angels; Mark Buehrle, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
NL Cy Young: Johnny Cueto, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
We alluded to this award earlier, and Johnny Cueto has to be the pick. While the underlying numbers show he's been getting more than a little lucky (.160 BABIP, 99.5 LOB percentage), it's impossible to argue with the right-hander's actual production at this stage. He's leading all of baseball in both ERA and WHIP and has struck out more than a batter per inning.
"I think it's about time he starts getting recognition nationally," teammate Zack Cozart said to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "We know how good he is when he's healthy. For him to start getting some pub is pretty cool. We think he's the top pitcher."
Even more impressive? Cueto has done all of the above after three separate stints on the DL for a lat injury limited him to only 11 starts in 2013.
Honorable Mentions: Adam Wainwright, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals; Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington Nationals; Zack Greinke, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers; Cliff Lee, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies; Jeff Samardzija, RHP, Chicago Cubs; Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves; Madison Bumgarner, LHP, San Francisco Giants; Michael Wacha, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals; Tim Hudson, RHP, San Francisco Giants; Nate Eovaldi, RHP, Miami Marlins; Andrew Cashner, RHP, San Diego Padres
AL MVP: Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
Mike Trout gets beat out again for AL MVP, only this time by a slugger other than Miguel Cabrera. Jose Bautista, who has had his own injury issues at the tail ends of each of the past two seasons, is healthy and back to bashing baseballs. Along with his 10 homers and 33 runs, Bautista is sporting a .297/.429/.554 triple-slash line and is tied atop the walks leaderboard with 34.
Honorable Mentions: Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox; Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels; Victor Martinez, 1B/DH, Detroit Tigers; Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers; Josh Donaldson, 3B, Oakland Athletics; David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox; Nelson Cruz, OF, Baltimore Orioles; Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels; Alexei Ramirez, SS, Chicago White Sox
NL MVP: Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies
Duh, right? Really, what more is there to say about Troy Tulowitzki's start?
While fellow studs like Giancarlo Stanton and Carlos Gomez have been impressive as can be, the Rockies shortstop is in a class by himself right now. In fact, Tulo's wins above replacement (WAR) is more than a full win better than anyone else in baseball, according to both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.
The man has spent the majority of the first quarter hitting right around .400 (if not over) and also tops everyone in both on-base (.497) and slugging percentage (.750). Oh, and he's playing some MVP-caliber defense too.
Honorable Mentions: Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins; Carlos Gomez, OF, Milwaukee Brewers; Charlie Blackmon, OF, Colorado Rockies; Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers; Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies; Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves; Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants; Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates; Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies; Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals
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