Greinke, Harper favorites for top MLB Awards
Six weeks ago, Max Scherzer's pitching was so dominant they should have put his name on the 2015 Esurance MLB Awards as MLB's Starting Pitcher of the Year. He was a slam-dunk choice.
Now, I'd be hard-pressed to rank Scherzer in the top two. That's why the 162-game season is such a marvelous, if not revealing, marathon.
As we head into the final six weeks of what proves to be exciting races to the postseason, the Dodgers' Zack Greinke is running away with the award I thought Washington's Scherzer had wrapped up at the All-Star break.
And Greinke teammate Clayton Kershaw, the 2014 winner, is not too far behind.
Scherzer, who hasn't won since July 30, is no better than third.
And then there's Toronto's David Price. Before the season is over, he may be near the top.
Oakland's Sonny Gray, who's 12-5 with a 2.04 ERA, which is tops in the American League, is certainly in the MLB Awards mix. Gray faces the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday, and he is being compared to former A's standout Barry Zito, who was 23-5 in 2002.
"There's a lot of season left," Gray says.
In Gray's last seven starts, he's pitched three complete games, unheard of in today's pitch-count era.
Houston left-hander Dallas Keuchel has strong consideration because of his 14-6 record and 2.37 ERA. His consistency has been a huge reason why the young Astros are atop the AL West.
Don't rule out Price. Since joining the Blue Jays, he's 2-0 with a 1.61 ERA and is 11-4 with a 2.41 ERA overall, and the veteran southpaw is giving his team a good chance to return to the postseason for the first time since 1993. Price pitches Friday night against the Angels.
Greinke, whose 1.58 ERA leads the Major Leagues, is 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last seven starts and 8-1 (1.64) in his last 15.
Kershaw (10-6, 2.34) has been on a tear lately: 5-0 with a 0.82 ERA in his last seven starts. His last loss was June 27.
The Cubs' Jake Arrieta, 14-6 with a 2.39 ERA, is hard to overlook. He's scheduled to go after his 15th win Thursday night against Atlanta.
There's just one MLB Award for Starting Pitcher of the Year, but the candidates are numerous as this stage. It says here, though, Greinke is a cinch. This may be just as tough to pick the MLB Award for Everyday Player of the Year. The Angels' Mike Trout won the honor in 2014 and even though he's having another outstanding year, the Nationals' Bryce Harper is virtually neck and neck. He leads the Majors with a .634 slugging percentage and a .454 on-base percentage. Harper tops the National League with 30 homers and his .327 average is the third best in MLB.
The D-backs' Paul Goldschmidt is having a career year, but other than batting average (.333), he is in Harper's shadow although his 89 RBIs top the NL.
Trout, with Harper as one of the best players in MLB, has cooled somewhat, but still is the premier player in his league. It's difficult to find a player who combines the power, speed and defense in the same package.
Josh Donaldson has helped propel the Blue Jays into AL East contention. If Trout weren't near the top in just about every AL offensive category, Donaldson might be a leading contender. He leads the Majors with 91 RBIs and has 33 homers.
It could be that one walks away with the Most Valuable Major Leaguer MLB Award and the other garners the Everyday Player of the Year trophy.
Some other 2015 Esurance MLB Awards thoughts:
Rookie of the Year
From the moment Kris Bryant arrived to play third base for the Cubs, he was the likely candidate for this honor. Nothing has changed.
Houston shortstop Carlos Correa, just 20, didn't make it to the Majors until June 8, and he has played in only 62 games. In that short period, he's batting .286, with 15 homers and 41 RBIs.
The vote here goes to Bryant, and it's too bad there's just one award. In such a short span, Correa is having that kind of season.
Manager of the Year
Giants skipper Bruce Bochy won the 2014 honor, and with so much of the '15 season remaining, it's tough to pick a clear winner.
The Mets' Terry Collins weathered an early-season storm when his team struggled, but with the best young pitching staff in the NL propelling the Amazin's ahead of the Nats in the NL East, he could take home the MLB Award.
A.J. Hinch has received a lot of attention for propelling the Houston Astros to first place in AL West.
Who wins this award will undoubtedly go to the wire. Considering all the criteria, it should probably be Hinch and that is my choice -- today!
Because the Yankees have such an enormous payroll, voters will overlook the great job Joe Girardi has done. No one thought the Bombers would contend in 2015, let alone be leading their division this late in the season. And if the Blue Jays do return to the postseason, what about John Gibbons?
The Rays have hit the skids, but rookie Kevin Cash should get his share of votes when the time comes.
In November, the actual winners will be announced, but with six weeks to go, this is a good time to take stock.