Jacob deGrom has taken over the top spot in MLB.com's National League Cy Young Award survey for the first time this season and seems solidly positioned to be a back-to-back winner of baseball’s highest pitching honor.
We mention deGrom because he’s the lone change at the top of MLB.com's eighth and final awards survey of reporters and editors. Five other leaders remain unchanged: American League Most Valuable Player (Mike Trout), NL MVP (Cody Bellinger), AL Cy Young Award (Justin Verlander), AL Rookie of the Year (Yordan Alvarez) and NL Rookie of the Year (Pete Alonso).
Three of the leaders -- Trout, Bellinger and Verlander -- finished atop all eight polls. However, only Trout appears to be a runaway winner, garnering 36 of 37 first-place votes despite missing the Angels' final 19 games with a foot injury.
The NL MVP race is closer with Bellinger receiving 21 first-place votes to 14 for Christian Yelich -- and one for Anthony Rendon. Yelich remains strongly in contention despite missing the Brewers' final 18 games with a broken kneecap.
This final week may help decide the AL Cy Young Award race. Verlander received 24 first-place votes to 11 for teammate Gerrit Cole, though the latter has an extra start to make up ground.
Cole's starts are both on the road, against the Mariners and Angels. Verlander has one left against the Angels this weekend. Verlander begins the final week leading the AL in ERA (2.53), innings (217), WHIP (0.806) and ERA+ (181).
Cole leads the AL with 302 strikeouts and a 2.74 FIP. He’s an eyelash behind Verlander in a string of other categories, including ERA (2.61) and WHIP (0.908).
When the Astros clinched the AL West on Sunday, manager AJ Hinch made note of the postseason awards in his postgame address to his team, saying, “I don’t know who’s going to win the Cy Young, but I know he’s in this room -- JV and Cole.”
In the NL, Max Scherzer and deGrom could both get only one more start. Scherzer will go Tuesday night against the Phillies and is lined up to pitch the final game of the regular season if the Nationals are still trying to clinch a playoff spot. Otherwise, he would be held back to start the NL Wild Card Game. deGrom’s final regular-season start will be Wednesday against the Marlins.
As for the Rookie of the Year balloting in both leagues, there’s no suspense. Alvarez and Alonso received all 34 first-place votes.
How the results were calculated: MLB.com reporters and editors were asked to rank their top five choices in each league, with 10 points for a first-place vote, seven for second place, five for third place, three for fourth place and one for fifth place.
Here’s a breakdown of the leaders:
1) Trout (36 first-place votes) -- He leads the AL in an array of categories, including fWAR, home runs (tied at 45 with Jorge Soler), OPS, OPS+ and intentional walks. He would be just the 11th player to be named MVP three times.
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2) Alex Bregman (1 first-place vote) -- He has played in 150 of 156 games and has been one of the constants on a team that has missed Carlos Correa, George Springer, Yuli Gurriel and Jose Altuve at various points of the season. He passed Trout in walks and is close behind in an assortment of other categories.
3) Marcus Semien -- He hadn’t finished in the top five in the previous seven polls, though he crashes at a time in which he has batted .351 since Aug. 20.
4) Xander Bogaerts -- He’s one of two players with at least 30 homers, 50 doubles and 100 RBIs, and one of six shortstops in history with at least 51 doubles in a season.
5) DJ LeMahieu -- He’s challenging for a batting title in a season in which he has been invaluable by starting 64 games at second, 46 at third and 26 at first.
Others receiving votes: Mookie Betts, Nelson Cruz, Matt Chapman, Rafael Devers, Matt Olson, Springer, Verlander, Cole, Alvarez
1) Bellinger (21 first-place votes) -- He leads the NL with 341 total bases and 20 intentional walks. He has hit 27 of his 46 home runs at Dodger Stadium, the most in franchise history.
2) Yelich (14 first-place votes) -- He leads the NL in wOBA (.441) and wRC+ (174) despite playing 21 fewer games than Bellinger. He also has a higher batting average and on-base percentage.
3) Rendon (1 first-place vote) -- He’s hitting .348 since the All-Star break and has reached base in 34 of the last 36 games with 13 doubles, nine homers, 23 walks and 30 runs.
4) Ketel Marte -- He set career highs in hits (187), RBIs (92) and runs (97) before being sidelined with a stress reaction in his back. His 6.8 bWAR is the fifth-highest for a position player in D-backs history.
5) Ronald Acuña Jr. -- He’s three stolen bases away from becoming the fifth player in MLB history to have a 40-homer, 40-steal season. His 127 runs are the third most in Braves history, trailing only Dale Murphy (131 in 1983) and Rafael Furcal (130 in 2003).
Other receiving votes: Freddie Freeman, Nolan Arenado, Josh Donaldson, J.T. Realmuto, Juan Soto, Alonso
AL CY YOUNG AWARD
1) Verlander (24 first-place votes) -- His microscopic 0.806 WHIP is the second lowest by a starting pitcher since 1961. Only Pedro Martinez’s 0.74 WHIP in 2000 was lower.
2) Cole (11 first-place votes) -- He’s 14-0 with a 1.87 ERA and 18.0 K/9 since May 27. The Astros are 18-2 in those starts. He’s just the third Astros pitcher with a 300-strikeout season.
3) Shane Bieber -- He has allowed two runs or fewer in 10 of his last 12 starts, and pitched at least six innings 11 times and seven innings eight times.
4) Charlie Morton -- He’s 5-4 with a 4.38 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break after going 10-2 with a 2.32 ERA in 19 starts in the first half.
5) Lance Lynn -- He has cracked the top five for the first time as he puts the finishing touches on his first 200-inning, 200-strikeout season. He’s currently at 201 innings and 236 strikeouts. As Lynn said last week, “This is what you set out to do when you show up at Spring Training. This is grown-man stuff.”
Others receiving votes: Lucas Giolito, Mike Minor
NL CY YOUNG AWARD
1) deGrom (30 first-place votes) -- He leads the NL with 248 strikeouts and a 0.990 WHIP. Since his ERA hit 3.98 on May 17, he has a 1.99 mark, lowest in MLB over his last 22 starts.
2) Scherzer (5 first-place votes) -- Since a shoulder and neck issue limited him to four starts in July and August, Scherzer has a 4.94 ERA in four September starts, none longer than 6 2/3 innings.
3) Hyun-Jin Ryu -- He seems likely to start NL Division Series Game 2 (with Walker Buehler going in Game 1) at Dodger Stadium since he has a 1.93 ERA in 14 home starts. His ERA was 1.73 before the All-Star break, 3.51 since.
4) Jack Flaherty -- He finishes in the top five for the first time thanks to a second half in which he has a 1.05 ERA in 13 starts. He's also allowed more than two earned runs just twice in that span.
5) Stephen Strasburg -- He leads the NL with 203 innings and has a 1.80 ERA in his last seven starts as the Nationals scramble for a postseason berth.
Other receiving votes: Mike Soroka, Walker Buehler, Sonny Gray, Kirby Yates, Luis Castillo, Patrick Corbin
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
1) Alvarez (34 first-place votes) -- Since his June 9 debut, his 1.103 OPS is AL's highest. He has 27 home runs in 82 games.
2) John Means -- His 3.54 ERA is the AL’s lowest among rookies with at least 10 starts. His 150 innings are second most among AL rookies.
3) Brandon Lowe -- He returned to the Rays' lineup on Sunday after missing almost two months with a shin injury. When he was injured, his 146 total bases were 23rd among all AL players.
4) Luis Arraez -- Since his second stint in the big leagues began on June 18, his .340 batting average is the fourth highest in MLB.
5) Eloy Jiménez -- He’s putting a solid finish on his rookie season with a .365 batting average in September to go along with eight homers, seven doubles and one triple.
Others receiving votes: Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Oscar Mercado
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
1) Alonso (34 first-place votes) -- He has finished first for the last six voting periods and becomes the first NL rookie to receive every first-place vote.
2) Soroka -- He hasn’t wavered under the pressure of a pennant race, allowing more than three earned runs just once in his last 11 starts.
3) Fernando Tatis Jr. -- His rookie season was a smashing success despite it ending on Aug. 13 due to a stress reaction in his lower back. In 84 games, he hit .317 with 22 homers, 13 doubles and six triples.
4) Bryan Reynolds -- His 37 doubles are a Pirates rookie record, breaking the mark of 35 by Hall of Famer Paul Waner in 1926.
5) Chris Paddack -- He allowed three earned runs or less in 21 of 26 starts, and the Padres were 14-12 in his starts.
Other receiving votes: Keston Hiura, Victor Robles, Dakota Hudson, Sandy Alcantara
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.