2016 MLB Award Race Odds Updates with 2 Weeks to Go
It doesn't seem possible, but there are only two weeks left in the 2016 MLB regular season.
While playoff races remain the focus around the baseball universe, the races for each of the game's individual awards, with one exception, are heating up as well. We've had a handful of new additions to the field in some cases, some subtractions in others and shuffling among those who remain in contention.
While statistics remain the driving force in calculating the odds on the pages that follow, both gut feeling and past voting trends played a part as well.
How are the races shaping up with time running out for contenders to make a move? Let's take a look.
AL Comeback Player of the Year
- Rick Porcello, SP, Boston Red Sox: 1-1
- Ian Desmond, CF, Texas Rangers: 11-9
- Robinson Cano, 2B, Seattle Mariners: 19-1
Rick Porcello's mindset doesn't change. No matter how well he pitches, it's all about the team.
Two starts ago, after tossing eight innings of four-hit, one-run ball against Baltimore in a game Boston lost, Porcello wasn't happy. "We lost. It was a big game," Porcello said, per ESPN.com's Tony Lee when asked if he had any satisfaction in his outing. "There's no satisfaction in that. I'm not playing for personal numbers, I'm playing to win."
He got his revenge Monday night, tossing a complete game against the Orioles that saw him scatter four hits and two runs while striking out seven, picking up his 21st win of the season. Afterward, Porcello was more interested in talking about the importance of the win for the team, not for himself.
"It's never over until it's over, but we're definitely going to try to increase the gap between us and them," Porcello told the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com).
As for Ian Desmond, who delivered a walk-off hit against Seattle for Texas on Monday, a .239 second-half batting average simply can't contend with Porcello's 21-win season.
NL Comeback Player of the Year
- Jean Segura, 2B, Arizona Diamondbacks: 1-1
- Tanner Roark, SP, Washington Nationals: 4-1
- Wilson Ramos, C, Washington Nationals: 17-3
- Wil Myers, 1B, San Diego Padres: 9-1
- Julio Teheran, SP, Atlanta Braves: 19-1
If Jean Segura played for a contender, we'd be talking about him as an MVP candidate. But he doesn't, so the National League leader in hits will have to settle for the Comeback Player of the Year Award, an honor for which he's more than deserving.
After hitting a combined .252 with a .615 OPS for Milwaukee from 2014-15, Segura has shattered his career bests in nearly every offensive category this year, sitting with a .319/.364/.488 slash line heading into Tuesday's games.
He's been spectacular of late, hitting .485 with seven extra-base hits (five home runs), eight RBI and a 1.514 OPS over his last seven games. Since the All-Star break, he's hit .331 with a .933 OPS.
The rest of the field can't contend with numbers like that.
Dropped from the field: Marcell Ozuna (MIA)
AL Manager of the Year
- Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians: 7-3
- Jeff Banister, Texas Rangers: 7-3
- Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles: 3-1
- Brad Ausmus, Detroit Tigers: 19-1
- John Gibbons, Toronto Blue Jays: 19-1
- Joe Girardi, New York Yankees: 19-1
That Baltimore continues to swap places with Toronto for the AL's top wild-card spot finds Buck Showalter making up ground on Jeff Banister and Terry Francona in the AL Manager of the Year race, but the skippers of division-leading Texas and Cleveland, respectively, still stand out as the favorites to take home the award.
Banister has the Rangers (89-62) atop the AL West despite having a makeshift bullpen and a roster that, once again, has been ravaged by injuries to key players, while Francona has steered the Indians (86-63) to the top of the AL Central without the services of his best player, Michael Brantley, for nearly the entire season.
Unless one of their clubs pulls away from the other down the stretch, multiple voters may resort to flipping a coin to decide which manager winds up with their top vote.
NL Manager of the Year
- Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs: 1-1
- Dusty Baker, Washington Nationals: 4-1
- Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers: 4-1
- Terry Collins, New York Mets: 9-1
Terry Collins deserves to be recognized for the remarkable job he's done with the New York Mets, currently the National League's top wild-card seed.
How remarkable? Consider these numbers, courtesy of the Staten Island Advance's Cormac Gordon: "The [Mets have] taken over the wild-card race in the NL while ranked 29th in MLB in runs scored, 28th in batting average (.242) and 26th in OBP (.311)."
Those numbers and the fact that he has the Mets in contention without having the services of Lucas Duda, Matt Harvey and David Wright for much of the season makes him a contender for the award.
That said, Collins isn't about to overtake the rest of the field—for this is still Joe Maddon's award to lose.
The Cubs have been baseball's best team since Opening Day, and while Maddon has the benefit of managing one of baseball's deepest rosters, he's also managed to keep egos in check and everyone relatively happy with their playing time.
He's helped turn Kyle Hendricks into a legitimate Cy Young Award contender. He's turned Javier Baez into a more powerful version of Ben Zobrist, who made his first All-Star Game appearance since 2013, when he played for Maddon in Tampa Bay.
Maddon hasn't been perfect, but he's been darn close to it.
AL Rookie of the Year
- Michael Fulmer, SP, Detroit Tigers: 1-1
- Tyler Naquin, OF, Cleveland Indians: 4-1
- Edwin Diaz, RP, Seattle Mariners: 4-1
- Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees: 9-1
Michael Fulmer remains the favorite to become Detroit's first AL Rookie of the Year Award-winner since Justin Verlander in 2006, but the 23-year-old has started to fade for the Tigers. Over his last five starts, he's gone 0-4 with a 6.28 ERA and 1.36 WHIP while allowing six home runs. Fulmer pitched to a 2.25 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over his first 19 starts, allowing 10 home runs in the process.
That could have something to do with a career-high 164 innings of work between the majors and minors, nearly 40 frames more than he tossed last season (124.2). He wouldn't be the first young arm to tire late in the season after experiencing a significant uptick in his workload.
Had Gary Sanchez been with the New York Yankees for most of the season, Fulmer would have stiffer competition for the award. Sanchez has been one of the prime reasons the Yankees played their way back into playoff contention, hitting .327 with 16 home runs, 30 RBI and a 1.091 OPS in 41 games.
However, he wasn't promoted to the big leagues for good until early August, and two months of production doesn't make for a Rookie of the Year.
NL Rookie of the Year
- Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers: 1-9
- Aledmys Diaz, SS, St. Louis Cardinals: 97-3
- Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies: 97-3
- Trea Turner, IF/OF, Washington Nationals: 97-3
At this point, Corey Seager could decide to crawl—backward—to the finish line and he'd still win the race for NL Rookie of the Year with a comfortable lead over his competition. That's not a knock on Aledmys Diaz, Trevor Story and Trea Turner—it's just a fact.
Seager has been a fixture at the top of Los Angeles' lineup all season, something his competitors can't claim. Diaz missed nearly a month of the season due to injury, Story has been sidelined since late July and Turner's success—and regular playing time—didn't come until after the All-Star break.
Per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, Seager recently played his way into the Dodgers record books, breaking Steve Sax's 1982 franchise record for hits by a rookie (180). With 12 games left on the schedule and Seager sitting with 182 hits, he has an outside shot at cracking the 200-hit mark.
AL Cy Young Award
- Zach Britton, RP, Baltimore Orioles: 3-1
- Corey Kluber, SP, Cleveland Indians: 5-1
- Rick Porcello, SP, Boston Red Sox: 5-1
- Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers: 8-1
- Chris Sale, SP, Chicago White Sox: 8-1
- Cole Hamels, SP, Texas Rangers: 47-3
- Jose Quintana, SP, Chicago White Sox: 47-3
- Masahiro Tanaka, SP, New York Yankees: 47-3
Zach Britton has converted all 45 of his save opportunities while pitching to a 0.59 ERA and 0.83 WHIP, averaging more than a strikeout per inning on the year. He's allowed a total of four earned runs over 61.1 innings of relief. Four earned runs.
"He's been as valuable as anybody in baseball," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter told the Houston Chronicle's Angel Verdejo Jr. last month. "Everybody should be considered [for the Cy Young Award]. If you're one of 25, everybody should be considered. And anybody that thinks otherwise, hasn't sat in the dugout and tried to win a division."
It's hard to argue with Showalter's assessment, especially with no one starter jumping out from a crowded field with a truly spectacular season. Corey Kluber (17-9, 3.12 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) and Rick Porcello (21-4, 3.08 ERA, 0.98 WHIP) are having terrific years, but their numbers pale in comparison to Britton's, which are flat-out dominant.
Short of a no-hitter from one of the starters in contention, it's looking like we'll have our first reliever take home the AL Cy Young Award since 1992, when Dennis Eckersley won in convincing fashion over the likes of Roger Clemens, Jack McDowell and Mike Mussina.
Dropped from the field: Aaron Sanchez (TOR)
NL Cy Young Award
- Max Scherzer, SP, Washington Nationals: 3-1
- Kyle Hendricks, SP, Chicago Cubs: 6-1
- Jon Lester, SP, Chicago Cubs: 6-1
- Madison Bumgarner, SP, San Francisco Giants: 6-1
- Noah Syndergaard, SP, New York Mets: 23-2
- Jake Arrieta, SP, Chicago Cubs: 23-2
- Johnny Cueto, SP, San Francisco Giants: 23-2
- Jose Fernandez, SP, Miami Marlins: 23-2
Unlike the field in the American League, there are a slew of Cy Young Award-worthy starters in the National League, which leaves little room for a pair of terrific closers, Los Angeles' Kenley Jansen and New York's Jeurys Familia.
Max Scherzer, among the NL leaders in innings pitched (210.2, second), strikeouts (259, first), WHIP (0.93, first) and part of a three-way tie with Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester for the lead in wins (17), continues to pace the field.
That three of his competitors—Arrieta, Lester and Kyle Hendricks—all play for the same team works in his favor. Odds are that voters will split votes between that trio, keeping them all in the hunt but without enough support to make a serious run at the award.
Such a scenario could open things up for the likes of Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jose Fernandez or Noah Syndergaard, but barring a stinker from Scherzer down the stretch, the 32-year-old looks well on his way to winning his second career Cy Young Award.
- Mookie Betts, OF, Boston Red Sox: 3-1
- Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros: 3-1
- Josh Donaldson, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays: 17-3
- Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels: 17-3
- Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore Orioles: 9-1
- David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox: 9-1
It's really a matter of preference when it comes to the leaders in the AL MVP race. Do you prefer your MVP to come from a playoff team? If that's the case, then your vote would likely go to Mookie Betts, who leads baseball in total bases (341) and has an outside shot at a 30-30 season (31 home runs, 24 stolen bases).
If you couldn't care less about whether the MVP comes from a playoff team, then you might lean toward Jose Altuve, Houston's diminutive second baseman who is on pace for his third consecutive 200-hit season and has added power (24 home runs, 94 RBI) to his arsenal.
While it's far from impossible for Josh Donaldson or Mike Trout to overtake Altuve and/or Betts atop the field, the odds aren't in their favor.
- Kris Bryant, INF/OF, Chicago Cubs: 7-3
- Daniel Murphy, INF, Washington Nationals: 3-1
- Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies: 13-3
- Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers: 13-3
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs: 37-3
CBSSports.com's Dayn Perry did a great job of summarizing why Kris Bryant remains the favorite in the NL MVP race, but pay particular attention to the last point he made:
Bryant's case is simple: He's the best player on the best team in baseball. He's spent time at six different positions this season (while providing plus fielding at third and the outfield corners), and along the way he's put up an excellent batting line of .296/.390/.566 with 37 homers and 33 doubles. As well, he's hit into just three double plays all year.
Not only does that put Bryant in a tie for third in the majors among qualified batters when it comes to grounding into double plays, but it's the third-lowest total among players who hit at least 30 home runs in a season since 1996.
It's just one more reason why it'll be nearly impossible for Daniel Murphy, Nolan Arenado and the rest of the field to catch him down the stretch.