A little past halfway through the 2013 MLB season, Scott Cullen digs into the numbers to make his picks for awards to this point of the season, along with Gold Gloves, All-Surprise and All-Disappointing teams:
Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit (29 HR, 92 RBI, .363 AVG, 1.132 OPS)
All three are worthy candidates, but it's hard to argue against Cabrera, whose OPS is currently the best of his already illustrious career. He's a defensive mess, but not enough to cough up the award. Trout is ever-so-slightly behind his numbers from last season, but is close, which means he's a viable challenger to Cabrera again. Last year's I preferred Trout; right now, Cabrera holds the edge. Amazingly, they are both ahead of Chris Davis, a power hitter who has the same number of home runs and RBI in 90 games that he did in 139 games last season. He's always had power, but with an improving strikeout rate, and an improving walk rate, he's become one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. The honourable mentions -- Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre -- are just that. They are very good players, but so far not up to the calibre of those names above.
David Wright, 3B, N.Y. Mets (13 HR, 43 RBI, 14 SB, .309 AVG, .923 OPS)
The National League race remains wide open. I give the nod to Wright, who does everything well. So too, does Goldschmidt, but third base is certainly a more challenging position. Carlos Gonzalez is a beast and even hitting better on the road (1.019 OPS) compared to Coors (.960 OPS), which is not typical Rockies stuff. Depending on your take on defensive stats, Milwaukee's Carlos Gomez could be a contender, as could teammate Jean Segura and Reds first baseman Joey Votto.
AL CY YOUNG
Max Scherzer, Detroit (13-0, 3.06 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 146 K, 123 2/3 IP)
It would be great to see Sale match up with Scherzer in the battle for AL Cy Young, because Sale's team won't give him nearly enough support for him to finish with a record like Scherzer's, but his pitching performance is right there with Scherzer. Both have been overpowering. Bartolo Colon has been much more of a finesse, command pitcher, but it's worked for him this year and he gets the nod ahead of Mariners duo Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma or Texas' Yu Darvish.
NL CY YOUNG
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles (8-5, 1.89 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 129 K, 138 1/3 IP)
An impressive cast for the National League award and any of the three are plenty deserving, but I give the edge to Kershaw, who is leading the league in ERA for the third straight season. Harvey has been phenomenal, though hit harder in his last couple starts, while Wainwright has resumed his place among the game's best following Tommy John surgery that kept him for the entire 2011 season. Cliff Lee, Jordan Zimmermann and Patrick Corbin are also worthy challengers.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Jose Iglesias, SS/3B, Boston (1 HR, 13 RBI, .388 AVG, .934 OPS)
The list of top rookies in the American League is decidedly underwhelming, which means room for change by season's end, but for the time being, a slap hitter who has been lingering around .400, despite no minor league track record as a hitter, gets the nod. Martin is a decent offensive player, with good speed and could very well end up the best candidate, but he's only okay. Southpaw Dan Straily has been good, not great, but good enough to stay ahead of other challengers. With more playing time, Royals right fielder David Lough and Mariners second baseman Nick Franklin could challenge.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami (5-5, 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 99 K, 98 2/3 IP)
Miller has been in the lead for most of the season and it's virtually a toss-up for me at this point. Fernandez has been an ace, at 20-years-old, and allows slightly fewer home runs. Ryu has also been very good, but the truth is that all of these candidates are just clinging to the lead ahead of Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig, who has taken baseball by storm, with a 1.100 OPS in his first 34 games.
It's a testament to how good Martin has been for the Pirates that he holds this spot ahead of Molina, an all-time great already, who remains great, behind the plate. Ellis, Welington Castillo and Salvador Perez are challengers.
It's remarkable that a slugger like Goldschmidt is at the top in both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating too. Younger, athletic guys like Hosmer and Belt have been very good, as has the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo.
Pedroia is the most consistent among several challengers, including LeMahieu and Dozier, who haven't spent the whole season at second base in the majors. Ian Kinsler has a case and, among those who haven't played as much, Kansas City's Elliot Johnson has been excellent.
Machado, who came through the Orioles' system as a shortstop, has been spectacular at the hot corner, while Arenado, another young gun, has been nearly as good in not quite as much playing time. Headley has a slight edge over Evan Longoria and Todd Frazier for the top defensive tier.
Simmons is on another planet, so far ahead of the rest and while Florimon and Escobar have been the best of the other contenders, a healthy Troy Tulowitzki would deserve a runner-up spot, and Pete Kozma and Elvis Andrus are possible challengers.
Much like Simmons is his own universe at shortstop, Gomez has been out of this world in centre field too. He's always been a tremendous fielder, but regular playing time and some offensive production are helping to raise his profile. Cain and Pollock have been very good, but are barely ahead of other contenders: Andrew McCutchen, Jacoby Ellsbury and Colby Rasmus.
Victorino has the range of a guy who played a lot of centre field in his career and Parra has bounced around the Diamondbacks outfield, excelling in all spots. Reddick's bat has slumped this year, but his glove is still good, keeping him just ahead of power hitters Jose Bautista and Jay Bruce.
(I realize there are Gold Gloves awarded in both leagues. I'm just trying to recognize the best fielders at each position.)
C - Jason Castro, Houston (12 HR, 31 RBI, .268 AVG, .808 OPS)
1B - Chris Davis, Baltimore (33 HR, 85 RBI, .313 AVG, 1.087 OPS)
2B - Matt Carpenter, St. Louis (8 HR, 40 RBI, .322 AVG, .888 OPS)
SS - Jean Segura, Milwaukee (11 HR, 36 RBI, 27 SB, .320 AVG, .844 OPS)
3B - Josh Donaldson, Oakland (15 HR, 58 RBI, .316 AVG, .914 OPS)
LF - Starling Marte, Pittsburgh (9 HR, 27 RBI, 28 SB, .288 AVG, .794 OPS)
CF - Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee (13 HR, 41 RBI, 20 SB, .305 AVG, .893 OPS)
RF - Michael Cuddyer, Colorado (15 HR, 52 RBI, .336 AVG, .969 OPS)
SP - Patrick Corbin, Arizona (10-1, 2.40 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 99 K, 123 2/3 IP)
SP - Matt Harvey, N.Y. Mets (7-2, 2.35 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 147 K, 130 IP)
SP - Bartolo Colon, Oakland (12-3, 2.69 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 66 K, 120 1/3 IP)
SP - Travis Wood, Chicago Cubs (6-6, 2.69 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 85 K, 117 IP)
SP - Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle (7-4, 2.97 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 106 K, 124 1/3 IP)
RP - Edward Mujica, St. Louis (24 SV, 2.39 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 33 K, 37 2/3 IP)
C - Miguel Montero, Arizona (6 HR, 31 RBI, .219 AVG, .622 OPS)
1B - Ike Davis, N.Y. Mets (5 HR, 18 RBI, .171 AVG, .520 OPS)
2B - Danny Espinosa, Washington (3 HR, 10 RBI, .158 AVG, .465 OPS)
SS - Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs (5 HR, 27 RBI, .234 AVG, .604 OPS)
3B - Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco (8 HR, 39 RBI, .258 AVG, .678 OPS)
LF - Josh Willingham, Minnesota (10 HR, 35 RBI, .224 AVG, .754 OPS)
CF - B.J. Upton, Atlanta (8 HR, 20 RBI, 7 SB, .178 AVG, .574 OPS)
RF - Jason Heyward, Atlanta (7 HR, 21 RBI, .229 AVG, .703 OPS)
SP - Ian Kennedy, Arizona (3-5, 5.31 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
SP - Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee (7-8, 4.85 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)
SP - Josh Johnson, Toronto (1-4, 4.62 ERA, 1.51 WHIP)
SP - R.A. Dickey, Toronto (8-9, 4.77 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)
SP - Jonathon Niese, N.Y. Mets (3-6, 4.32 ERA, 1.61 WHIP)
RP - Joel Hanrahan, Boston (4 SV, 9.82 ERA, 2.18 WHIP)