I just want to start the postseason-awards debate by breaking down the pros and cons for the top-three candidates for the MVP and Cy Young awards in each league.
American League MVP
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Red Sox
.346 batting average, 85 runs, 38 doubles, 3 triples, 20 HRs, 97 RBIs, 1 stolen base, .408/.549/.956
Pros: Leads the AL in batting average, second in RBIs, third in OBP, fourth in OPS and fifth in slugging. Gold Glove defender, as well, having committed only three errors at 1B. Team is 78-50 and tied for first place in AL East.
Cons: Has the luxury of playing in a loaded lineup, getting protection from all over the place and getting more RBI chances than the other candidates. Against the Yankees, Rays and Tigers, is hitting .173 (19 for 110) with three home runs and 15 RBIs in 29 games.
Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees
.281 batting average, 115 runs, 20 doubles, 10 triples, 35 HRs, 98 RBIs, 24 stolen bases, .375/ .594/ .969
Pros: Leads the AL in runs, triples and RBI, ranks second in home runs and slugging, third in OPS, eighth in BBs and ninth in SBs. Has scored 24 more runs than second-place Jose Bautista. Has been the best player on a first-place team that has been beset by injuries with Alex Rodriguez missing 45 games and Derek Jeter 23. Also plays a Gold Glove center field, having committed three errors this season.
Cons: Ranks 32nd in average. Hitting just .194 (21 for 108) in 30 games against the Red Sox, Rays and Tigers.
Jose Bautista 3B/OF Blue Jays
.318 batting average, 91 runs, 20 doubles, two triples, 36 HRs, 80 RBIs, six stolen bases, .459/ .652/ 1.111
Pros: Leads AL in home runs, BB, OBP, SLG and OPS. Second in runs and seventh in average. His 1.111 OPS is 131 points better than second-place Miguel Cabrera’s .970.
Cons: Doesn’t play for the Red Sox or Yankees.
The winner: Granderson. He has a chance to lead the AL in runs, triples and home runs, something that has never been done. And throw in a possible RBI crown. He has meant more to his team than the other guys.
National League MVP
Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers
.305 batting average, 80 runs, 30 doubles, one triple, 28 HRs, 100 RBIs, no stolen bases, .415/ .561/ .977
Pros: Leads the NL in RBI, fourth in home runs, second in OBP, fourth in SLG, fourth in OPS, second in BB, seventh in runs. Is the most feared hitter on a team that is 10 games in front of the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central.
Cons: May split votes with teammate Ryan Braun. Has hit only six home runs in 39 games since the All-Star break.
Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers
.322 batting average, 79 runs, 26 doubles, three triples, 29 HRs, 95 RBIs, 33 stolen bases, .394/ .569/ .962
Pros: Ranks third in NL in home runs, RBIs, slugging and stolen bases. Fourth in average, fifth in OPS and seventh in OBP. Has an outside shot of becoming just the fifth member of the 40 HR/40 SB club. Plays a stellar center field. Hits in a pitcher’s park on an offense that gives him little support.
Cons: Similar numbers to Ryan Braun’s, whose team is in first place. Dodgers are 59-69 and 10.5 games out of first in the NL West.
Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers
.328 batting average, 90 runs, 31 doubles, four triples, 25 HRs, 85 RBIs, 28 stolen bases, .399/ .586/ .985
Pros: Leads the NL in runs, slugging and OPS. Second in average, fifth in RBI and OBP, eighth in stolen bases and ninth in home runs. Team is in first place. Should join the 30 HR/30 SB club.
Cons: Hits in front of Fielder, giving him some of the best protection in the game.
Winner: Fielder. Braun may have the better all-around numbers, but Fielder is the heart and soul of that team, and without him, Braun’s numbers would suffer.
American League Cy Young
Justin Verlander, RHP, Tigers
19-5, 2.28 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, .187 BAA, 212 Ks, 45 BBs, 9.1 Ks/9, 4 complete games, 2 shutouts, including no-hitter
Pros: Leads the AL in wins, Ks, WHIP and BAA, second in ERA. Leads the league averaging 7.5 IP per start. Tossed a no-hitter May 7 against the Blue Jays and has come close two other times, 25 of 28 starts have been quality starts. Team is six games up on the Indians for first place in the AL Central.
Cons: Lost a game to the Mariners this season.
CC Sabathia, LHP, Yankees
17-7, 2.96 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, .245 BAA, 184 Ks, 47 BBs, 8.4 Ks/9, three complete games, one shutout
Pros: Second in wins, third in Ks, sixth in ERA in the AL. Averages 7.3 IP per start. Pitches for the Yankees. Team is tied for first in the AL East.
Cons: 0-4, 7.20 ERA, 1.72 WHIP against the Red Sox this year. Ranks 20th in BAA and 11th in WHIP. 3.63 ERA in seven games since the All-Star break.
Jered Weaver, RHP, Angels
14-6, 2.10 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, .207 BAA, 158 Ks, 42 BBs, 7.6 Ks/9, four complete games, two shutouts
Pros: Leads the AL in ERA and ranks second in WHIP, third in wins, third in BAA and eighth in Ks. Averages 7.3 IP per start. Team is 70-59 and just 3.5 games behind the Rangers in the AL West. Is 2-1, with a 1.86 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in four games against the Rangers this year, 23 of his 26 starts have been quality starts.
Cons: Verlander is just better this season.
Winner: Verlander. Has been the best pitcher in baseball this year and should win the award easily.
National League Cy Young
Roy Halladay, RHP, Phillies
15-5, 2.56 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, .248 BAA, 182 Ks, 23 BBs, 8.6 Ks/9, seven complete games
Pros: Second in wins, third in Ks, fifth in ERA, fourth in WHIP in NL. Leads the league in complete games and averages 7.3 IP per start. 7.9 Ks/BBs ratio leads the NL. Team is 83-44 and best in baseball.
Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers
16-5, 2.51 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, .211 BAA, 207 Ks, 48 BBs, 9.8 Ks/9, four complete games, one shutout
Pros: Tied for the NL lead in wins and Ks. Second in WHIP and BAA, third in ERA. Averages 7.1 IP per start. Is 7-1, with a 1.37 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in eight starts since the All-Star break.
Cons: Team is 59-69 and 10.5 games out of first in the NL West.
Ian Kennedy, RHP, Diamondbacks
16-4, 3.09 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .232 BAA, 154 Ks, 49 BBs, 7.7 K/9, one complete game, one shutout
Pros: Tied for the NL lead in wins, eighth in WHIP, ninth in Ks, 11th in BAA and 12th in ERA. Is 7-1, with a 2.25 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in eight starts since the All-Star break. Team is 70-59 and 2 games up on second-place Giants in NL West.
Cons: Not a big name, so voters may ignore him.
Winner: Kershaw. Across the board, having a better season than any other pitcher in the NL this season, and as we learned from Felix Hernandez last year, team success isn’t that important.
Feel free to add your own thoughts to the debate in the comments below.