Fridays are awesome. But this Friday is even better, because the Bravos sit only 2.5 back of the Phils with a chance to take control of the East before the All-Star break. It's been a pretty wild season so far, with alot of ups and downs to be sure. But today I want to get everyone's opinion on the major award candidates so far. Who could be dark horses, Braves or otherwise, to win these titles come season's end?
Who is this year's Bautista? (well, besides Bautista) My list below:
NL MVP: Justin Upton
Sure, Chris Young is good too. But the DBacks are surprise contenders in the West so far this year, and Upton's been the guy really leading the way. So far he's on pace for career highs in Hits, RBIs, HRs and SBs, all while putting up a line of .295/.376/.512. If Arizona's pitching staff can hold it together and the DBacks can stay relevant, you can bet Upton's going to get a good shot at the MVP.
(**Obviously, McCann is another choice, but that's been talked about quite a bit already)
AL MVP: Paul Konerko
I know, Melky Cabrera is the natural choice for MVP, but I'm trying to think outside the box here guys.
Now we move to a team that should've been good, but disappointed early on. We're seeing another "vintage" season from Konerko, who's already gone deep 22 times all while hitting .316/.387/.566. Recently, the White Sox have been playing a bit better (mostly a product of how weak the AL Central has been), and though the offense has some talented pieces it really has been the Konerko show in the South Side.
NL Cy Young: Tommy Hanson
Obviously our boy JJ has been lights out. The Phillies also have three strong contenders in Halladay, Hamels and Lee. But lost among the crowd has been our other boy Hanson, who has posted a very respectable 2.52 ERA, 9.76 K/9, and @most importantly@ 10 W's. While some have been saying that JJ is pitching over his head (check out this interesting Fangraphs article on JJ), I feel fairly confident that Tommy can keep up the good work he's done so far, if not improve upon it (ignore the .243 BABIP, I feel it in my gut, that's all that matters).
AL Cy Young: Dan Haren
A couple of surprises in the AL so far, with guys like Beckett and Shields having great seasons out of the blue. Verlander and Weaver are the two big contenders right now. But the guy I think will stick with it the rest of the way is Haren. He's posted a 2.65 ERA in LA on his way to a 9-5 record. But what's even more impressive are his peripherals: 2.58 FIP, and a .262 BABIP (.290 career). This big thing seems to be the lack of HRs allowed this year, only 5.8 HR/FB (10.3 career). Would be nice to see him cash in on a great year. Actually, just anyone but CC. Please.
NL RoY: None
Really. I tried. For a minute, I thought (maybe Espinosa...) but no. It's absolutely going to be one of Freeman, Kimbrel or Beachy. My money is still on Kimbrel, but FF is certainly making a strong case to win it in the recent weeks. Either way, it's a pretty great dilemma to have.
AL RoY: Dustin Ackley
Really strong class this year. The front-runner right now is obviously Pineda, but Ackley has really hit the ground running this year, hitting .298/.359/.544 with 3 jacks since being called up. In Seattle, that's probably enough production to win 3 games all by himself. The Mariners still sit only 4.5 back in the division. If Ackley can do the Posey thing and help them towards a playoff berth, there's your RoY right there.
Alright, y'all's turn, let's hear some sleeper picks