MLB Predictions 2011: Early Favorites for Baseball's Top Individual Awards
I know what you're thinking. An awards article the first week of May? That's about as responsible as a Rashard Mendenhall Tweet.
Half the guys on this list will probably nose-dive immediately after I write it and I'll look like an idiot...but you know what? It's May and this is baseball and there isn't a whole lot else to talk about.
Trying to predict the favorites for these awards 20 percent into the season is like trying to predict who the next athlete will be that Twitter will make look like a moron. There's far too many options to choose from.
That being said, I'm going to give it my best go and deliver you the players who I think are the early favorites to win Baseball's top awards.
AL Cy Young: Trevor Cahill
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If this guy played for the Yankees, he'd be on the dollar bill by now.
Unfortunately for his publicist, Trevor Cahill plays for the under-exposed Oakland Athletics and doesn't get nearly enough attention from the media.
After starting his career 6-12, Cahill has gone 27-9 in the season and a half since with a 2.97 ERA last year and a 1.79 ERA so far this season.
While he won't put up the strikeout numbers of other Cy Young contenders, I predict it'll work in his favor—keeping his pitch count down and minimizing the chances of him hitting a wall later in the season.
Jered Weaver and Dan Haren are off to unbelievable starts but they might suffer from split voters since they both play for the Angels.
APOLOGIES TO: Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Justin Masterson.
NL Cy Young: Josh Johnson
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Look at this guys typical stat line. It has more zeros than a Star Trek convention.
Even though Johnson got a little roughed up in his last start on May 5th against the Cards (two of his runs were inherited by a reliever), he's still sporting a 0.85 WHIP and a 1.68 ERA—both tops in the NL.
This is the year Josh Johnson leads the surprising Marlins back to the playoffs and wins the NL Cy Young Award.
APOLOGIES TO: Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay.
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
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While the majority of the national media expected Cabrera to be in Betty Ford by now, the Tigers slugger has just been doing what he does best.—destroying the baseball.
His highly publicized off-season celebration notwithstanding, Cabrera has been on an absolute tear this season. As of May 4th, he's second in the AL in batting average, slugging and on-base percentage, seventh in home runs and RBIs and first in runs.
Without the supporting cast of some other candidates, his odds of winning the MVP depend on the Tigers ability to stay in contention, as the teams second half fade last season likely lost him the award.
APOLOGIES TO: Jose Bautista and Michael Young.
NL MVP: Matt Holliday
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This is by far the toughest award to predict. There's literally a dozen guys you can consider for this award at this point.
Matt Holliday ultimately gets my vote because the guy is hitting an amazing .417 over a month into the season. There's no way I can't select him at this point regardless of the stacked lineup he's batting in.
Holliday has hits in 23 of the 25 games he's played in and has multiple hits in 13 of those games...oh, and he walks too. His on-base percentage is .509. He's been unreal.
APOLOGIES TO: Lance Berkman, Placido Polanco, Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, etc., etc.
AL Manager of the Year: Manny Acta
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I thought the Indians would be better than people expected, but 21-9 through the first 30 games?
They're like a real life version of their namesake in the movie "Major League." Thought to be a group of has-beens and nobodies, they're running away with the AL Central.
I keep expecting to see Willie Mays Hayes leading off and Pedro Cerano batting cleanup.
Manny Acta deserves a lot of credit for this turnaround. The team is playing out of their minds and winning every close game.
APOLOGIES TO: Fellow AL Central surprise Ned Yost.
NL Manager of the Year: Edwin Rodriguez
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Edwin Rodriguez is getting a lot out of the scrappy Marlins.
Expected to struggle this year, the Marlins are giving the ultra-talented Phillies a run for their money so far. The Marlins currently have the fourth best record in baseball.
If Rodriguez can keep his team in contention, he'll be the favorite for Manager of the Year in the NL.
APOLOGIES TO: Charlie Manuel, Jim Tracy and Clint Hurdle.
AL Rookie of the Year: Michael Pineda
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Maybe this award will end up going to a guy who hasn't even played yet? Eric Hosmer's recent call-up to the Royals might put him in the mix.
But based upon guys currently with statistics, I have to go with the Mariners' Michael Pineda by a very narrow margin over starter Zach Britton of the Orioles, based upon Pineda's K per inning ability. Otherwise, their statistics are nearly identical.
Pineda has out-pitched the latest AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez and he's been key to the Mariners better than expected start.
APOLOGIES TO: Zach Britton, Mark Trumbo and Jordan Walden.
NL Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel
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The 22-year-old closer for the Braves has been electric during his brief career.
So far this year Kimbrel is seven of nine in save opportunities with 19 strikeouts in 13.2 innings. Kimbrel should get plenty of save opportunities and he could be this year's Neftali Feliz.
Darwin Barney of the Cubs is also a strong candidate at this point.
APOLOGIES TO: Darwin Barney and Aroldis Chapman.
AL Comeback Player: Alex Gordon
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I was struggling to find a candidate for this award until my mind went to the Royals and then I knew who my early leader was.
Written off for dead, Gordon has finally started living up to his phenom expectations. A month into the season, he's already matched his RBI totals for last year.
Gordon is a huge reason for the strong start for the Royals.
I want to consider Justin Masterson here, but he's never really been anywhere in the majors to comeback from.
APOLOGIES TO: Travis Hafner, Jeff Francoeur and Bartolo Colon.
NL Comback Player: Lance Berkman
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By far the easiest award to name the early leader for.
Berkman has put up Pujols-type numbers. He leads the league in RBIs and is second in home runs and average in his new home in St. Louis.
Many probably thought Berkman's best days were behind him after his forgettable cameo in the Bronx late last season. The Cardinals, though, took a flier on Berkman and he's paying tremendous dividends.
APOLOGIES TO: Carlos Beltran and Kyle Lohse.