Updated 2014 MLB Award Race Odds with 2 Weeks to Go

Jason Catania@@JayCat11MLB Lead WriterSeptember 18, 2014

Updated 2014 MLB Award Race Odds with 2 Weeks to Go

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    It was a scary scene after Giancarlo Stanton was hit in the face by a pitch, putting his season—and MVP chase—in jeopardy.
    It was a scary scene after Giancarlo Stanton was hit in the face by a pitch, putting his season—and MVP chase—in jeopardy.Associated Press

    The 2014 Major League Baseball season may be winding down, but like the pennant races and wild-card chases, a lot of the individual award competitions are gearing up. As the 30 clubs make their way toward the finish line, players are wrapping up impressive campaigns that soon enough will result in some hardware.

    Yes, it's time again to check in with an update of the 10 prominent individual awards races as the final two weeks play out. Since last time, another week of performances has gone a long way toward clarifying where things stand in each league in terms of front-runners and challengers for Manager of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young Award winner and MVP.

    Even though there isn't much time left in 2014, some of these end-of-year honors will come down to, well, the very end. That's why, on the pages to follow, the top candidates for each category have been assigned odds to specify their chances of taking the trophy.

    Because there is no award for participation.

AL Manager of the Year

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    Buck ShowalterBaltimore Orioles5-4
    Mike SciosciaLos Angeles Angels3-1
    Ned YostKansas City Royals11-2
    Lloyd McClendonSeattle Mariners9-1
    Brad AusmusDetroit Tigers18-1

    You're well aware by now that the Baltimore Orioles clinched not only a playoff berth but their first AL East division crown since Manny Machado was five years old. The year? Try 1997.

    Speaking of the injured third baseman, he's one of three young cornerstone players the O's have been without, along with catcher Matt Wieters and first baseman Chris Davis. And yet skipper Buck Showalter has guided his club meticulously through a topsy-turvy AL East by relying on a deep rotation, a mix-and-match bullpen and plenty of out-of-nowhere position players to help pick up the slack.

    For instance, we're not saying Showalter is the reason 31-year-old minor league journeyman Steve Pearce has hit 20 homers—more than twice his previous career total—but we're not saying Showalter isn't the reason, either.

    No-doubt narrative? Check. Discerning decision-making? Check. Managerial mysticism? Double-check.

    Mike Scioscia has a strong case, too—despite losing Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs to season-ending injuries and getting next to nothing from Josh Hamilton, he's skippering the team with the best record in baseball—but more was expected of the Los Angeles Angels initially.

    Besides, the Orioles actually have a better second-half record than the Halos—or any other team, for that matter.

NL Manager of the Year

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    Matt York/Associated Press
    Bruce BochySan Francisco Giants7-2
    Clint HurdlePittsburgh Pirates7-2
    Matt WilliamsWashington Nationals9-2
    Mike RedmondMiami Marlins9-2
    Don MattinglyLos Angeles Dodgers9-1
    Mike MathenySt. Louis Cardinals9-1

    This one will come down to the wire and could depend on whether Bruce Bochy's San Francisco Giants or Clint Hurdle's Pittsburgh Pirates can secure playoff spots and perhaps even overtake the Los Angeles Dodgers or St. Louis Cardinals in their respective divisions.

    Mike Redmond is going to get recognition for doing well to keep an injury-riddled Miami Marlins team in the wild-card chase into mid-September despite losing Jose Fernandez (Tommy John surgery) and Giancarlo Stanton (hit by pitch in the face) to season-ending injuries.

    And after a few early-season hiccups, first-year manager Matt Williams is also making a charge now that he has the Washington Nationals firing on all cylinders as the top team in the NL.

AL Comeback Player of the Year

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    Albert PujolsLos Angeles Angels1-1
    Phil HughesMinnesota Twins12-5
    Melky CabreraToronto Blue Jays4-1

    When Albert Pujols left Monday's game with a hamstring issue, which was suffered as he chugged into second base on a three-run double, it appeared that the door could be left open for a productive—and healthy—Phil Hughes to pitch his way to a last-minute charge and gain ground on the Los Angeles Angels first baseman.

    But Pujols' ailment turned out merely to be a cramp, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, and he was back in the lineup the next day. So the Minnesota Twins right-hander's opening? Likely shut.

    While Hughes' best-in-baseball 11-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio is impressive, the guess here is Pujols' return to the neighborhood of 30-homer, 100-RBI production—he currently has 26 and 98—will carry more weight with voters, who will fall for the bigger name with 500 career homers in the bag.

NL Comeback Player of the Year

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    Al Behrman/Associated Press
    Johnny CuetoCincinnati Reds1-4
    Matt KempLos Angeles Dodgers11-2
    Casey McGeheeMiami Marlins18-1

    Johnny Cueto's most recent outing on Tuesday wasn't all that good. In fact, it might have been his worst of 2014, as he surrendered six earned and walked five—both season highs—over 5.2 frames.

    So what? This honor is all Cueto's no matter how he pitches over his final start or two or even how clutch Matt Kemp proves to be in the Los Angeles Dodgers' quest to hold off the San Francisco Giants in the NL West or challenge the Washington Nationals for the top seed in the Senior Circuit.

    Had Kemp played all season like he has in the second half (.302/.366/.579 with 13 homers and 41 RBI in 55 games), however, this would have been a much more interesting race.

AL Rookie of the Year

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    Jose AbreuChicago White Sox1-10
    Yordano VenturaKansas City Royals50-1
    Collin McHughHouston Astros50-1
    Jake OdorizziTampa Bay Rays50-1
    Matt ShoemakerLos Angeles Angels50-1
    Marcus StromanToronto Blue Jays50-1

    Well done, commenters. The public outcry in support of Matt Shoemaker after he was left off the odds list last time was enough to push for a second look at his performance—and even get him on the ballot this time, despite an oblique injury that will cost him (at least) a start, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

    Ultimately, however, those efforts amount to raving about how great salad is as an appetizer before a steak dinner is served. That's because Jose Abreu continues to make his case as the near-unanimous AL Rookie of the Year.

    The Chicago White Sox first baseman homered in the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 13 to reach 100 RBI (see video) and then followed that up by smacking his 35th long ball the very next day.

    Putting up those kind of numbers in his first year not only in the majors but in the United States—and amid such an offensively challenged era—makes Abreu the cream of a strong crop in the Junior Circuit.

NL Rookie of the Year

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    Jacob deGromNew York Mets1-1
    Billy HamiltonCincinnati Reds9-5
    Kolten WongSt. Louis Cardinals11-2

    A week ago, this award was completely up in the air, with both Jacob deGrom and Billy Hamilton neck and neck. After deGrom's most recent record-setting outing, though, that has shifted.

    The New York Mets' rookie righty is now ahead of the Cincinnati Reds' speedy center fielder after deGrom had himself a statement start on Monday in which he tied the MLB record with eight consecutive strikeouts to open the game against Miami Marlins. If you haven't already, click "play" above to enjoy the highlights.

    The mark had been held by Jim Deshaies of the Houston Astros since 1986.

    Here's manager Terry Collins' take on deGrom's dominant outing, per Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.

    That's about as dominating a start of a game as I've probably ever seen, and I've seen some pretty good pitching. The location was just outstanding. You look some of those called strikes and they were right -- I mean, right -- on the corners. Unbelievable. He threw any pitch he wanted to, whenever he wanted to.

    At this late stage, that kind of cherry-on-top performance might be what writers will remember—and savor—when it comes time to pick between deGrom and Hamilton.

AL Cy Young

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    Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
    Felix HernandezSeattle Mariners4-9
    Corey KluberCleveland Indians9-1
    Chris SaleChicago White Sox12-1
    Jon LesterOakland Athletics12-1
    Max ScherzerDetroit Tigers12-1

    The AL Cy Young has been Felix Hernandez's to lose since his record run of 16 straight starts in which he pitched at least seven innings and allowed no more than two runs.

    Given how well the King has pitched down the stretch—allowing 21 baserunners and only three runs while striking out 20 in 21.0 September innings—it's safe to say the Seattle Mariners right-hander isn't going to lose it.

    Corey Kluber (career-high 14 strikeouts last time out), Chris Sale (who led the AL in ERA until Wednesday's subpar start), Jon Lester (1.64 September ERA) and Max Scherzer (the Detroit Tigers have won in six of his past seven starts) have kept it close. But as the 2010 winner, Hernandez (2.14 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 225 K in 219.0 IP) should be making room on his mantle for a second Cy.

NL Cy Young

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    Clayton KershawLos Angeles Dodgers1-20
    Johnny CuetoCincinnati Reds18-1

    As mentioned earlier, Johnny Cueto's last start was one of his worst in an otherwise fabulous 2014 campaign, which is good enough at least to remain in contention for a mention of a Cy Young that probably is being engraved with the name "Clayton Kershaw" as you read this.

    But Cueto's slip-up, combined with the Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander's utter, absolute, consistent, never-ending dominance—he's pitched at least seven innings in 17 straight starts and eight or more in each of his past seven turns—is plenty to give this one to Kershaw, even if he doesn't throw another pitch in the regular season.

    It's amazing to think that a pitcher who missed six weeks due to injury early and likely won't reach 200 innings for the year can be this far ahead. But as the kids might say, Kershaw just crushes it every time.

    This will be the second straight Cy Young for Kershaw (1.70 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 219 K, 185.1 IP) and third in four years. Only eight others have won at least three.


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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
    Mike TroutLos Angeles Angels4-9
    Victor MartinezDetroit Tigers18-1
    Felix HernandezSeattle Mariners18-1
    Miguel CabreraDetroit Tigers18-1
    Robinson CanoSeattle Mariners18-1
    Jose BautistaToronto Blue Jays18-1
    Nelson CruzBaltimore Orioles18-1

    Mike Trout is doing his best to finish strong and propel himself toward his first MVP award.

    Thus far in September, the Los Angeles Angels center fielder is hitting .288 with nine extra-base hits, including three homers, and a steal. He's also notched 10 RBI and 17 runs, giving him 107 and 109—both of which are the most in baseball. That's going to get the old-school voters going.

    And the new-school crowd already loves Trout for his third-best weighted on-base average (wOBA) of.403, his best overall weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 167 and wins above replacement (WAR) of 7.7, also tops in MLB.

    After coming in second to the big bat of Miguel Cabrera the past two years, Trout has showed the kind of league-leading power and all-around production that is simply too much to ignore, especially with the Halos hanging on to the best record.


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    Clayton KershawLos Angeles Dodgers5-4
    Giancarlo StantonMiami Marlins9-5
    Andrew McCutchenPittsburgh Pirates9-1
    Buster PoseySan Francisco Giants9-1

    Sad and disappointing as it is, when Giancarlo Stanton was hit in the face by a Mike Fiers pitch last week, his season ended—and so might have his chances to take home the NL MVP.

    The Miami Marlins have officially shut down their slugger for the rest of 2014, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:

    Stanton suffered multiple facial fractures and lacerations that required more than 20 stitches. Several teeth were compromised, and a plastic surgeon was immediately brought in to help repair the left side of Stanton's face. ...

    ... "He's made tremendous progress," [Marlins president of baseball ops Michael] Hill said. "But there was still some swelling, then the multiple fractures. There just wasn't enough time, not enough schedule, to get him back on the field [in 2014]."

    Stanton was the front-runner last time because he had played in every single game to that point and had totaled 37 homers and 105 RBI, both of which led the Senior Circuit before the scary incident.

    But with Stanton out of the way, the favorite becomes Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw.

    Yes, he's a pitcher, and yes, pitchers have their own award (which, if you recall from a couple of slides ago, Kershaw has in his pocket). But heck, Kershaw's season has been so historic—from the lowest ERA (1.70) since Greg Maddux's 1.63 in 1995 to the sixth-best WHIP all-time (0.83)—that he has become the No. 1 choice at the moment.

    If Kershaw does capture the MVP, he'll be the first pitcher to do so in the NL since Bob Gibson pulled the feat in 1968.

    Statistics are accurate as of Sept. 18 and are courtesy of MLB.comBaseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.

    To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11