NL MVP, Bryce Harper – It appears that last season was indeed an aberration for Harper, as he has bounced back with a vengeance. He is batting .337 with 15 home runs and a league leading 41 runs batted in to lead his team to the best record in the MLB to this point in the season. After another postseason disappointment last year, Harper and slugging mate Ryan Zimmerman look poised to hit the Nationals to a deep playoff run.
Jake Prizina throws a pitch against UC Bakersfield.
AL MVP, Mike Trout – Again? Trout had already won two MVP awards by the time he turned 25 and shows no signs of slowing down as one of the best hitters and all around player the league has ever seen. If the season ended now, he would be MVP, hitting .337 with 16 home runs and 36 RBIs, but he just tore a ligament in his thumb and will be sidelined 6-8 weeks. This is a huge blow for the Angels, who don’t have much past Trout, who has carried the team to second place in the AL West division.
NL Cy Young, Max Scherzer – The Nationals were led by the help of Scherzer to a league best record thus far with a 5-2 record. He leads the league in strikeouts with 89 in 68 innings. He also leads the league in walk and hits per inning pitched (WHIP).
AL Cy Young, Zack Greinke – After signing a $200 million contract two winters ago with the Diamondbacks, Greinke had one of his worst seasons, but he is back. Last year he followed up his best season of his career with a 4.37 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and a drop of 70 strikeouts while posting the same number of walks. This year, he has a 3.24 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 84 strikeouts, already more than half of what he had last season. The Diamondbacks are challenging the Rockies and Dodgers for superiority in the NL West.
NL Manager of the Year, Bud Black – After nine years managing the Padres, Black moved to the division rival Rockies and has had a lot of success this season, leading them to the second best record in the National League behind the Nationals. They have an MVP candidate in Charlie Blackmon, and he has taken Mark Reynolds, known for either hitting a home run or striking out, and turned him into a hitter for average. This is all with sluggers Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzales having down years so far. He has also taken a pitching staff of young and unexperienced guys and turned them into an average staff. They will never be elite, but he has done enough to turn this team into a contender ahead of schedule.
AL Manager of the Year, Paul Molitor – The Minnesota Twins were the worst team in baseball last year, and they currently sit in first place in the AL Central, an unprecedented turnaround. Molitor was on Twins staff for two years before being named manager in 2015. This year he has the 23-year-old Miguel Sano leading the team in almost every hitting category, followed by a pitching staff that has been performing well too. A lot of this is owed to Ervin Santana having a career renaissance with a 1.75 ERA. There has also been a boost from newcomer Jose Berrios who has a 1.66 ERA in 21 innings this year. They don’t have anybody hitting over .300 but have been a consistent team.
NL Rookie of the Year, Cody Bellinger – The Dodgers had last year’s Rookie of the Year in Corey Seager and they may have struck gold again in Bellinger. He is currently playing right field but is poised to take over first base for Adrian Gonzales when he can no longer play at a high level. Bellinger has shown elite power and hitting skills with 11 home runs in 31 games. As is the case with rookies, it is impossible to know if this will continue. His average has dropped to .271, but he has a good swing and looks the part of a guy who will stick around and have a successful career in the league.
AL Rookie of the Year, Andrew Benintendi – Benintendi is another young outfielder with huge potential for the Red Sox. He plays centerfield but has moved around the outfield. He is hitting .272 with five home runs and 27 RBIs. He is a bit small for an outfielder but moves around well.
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