While a Cy Young pitcher can always make a strong case regardless of the team they have surrounding them, it’s harder for a positional player to prove they are “the most valuable” unless their team is playing October baseball. That’s what will make these races so entertaining to watch down the stretch.
Here are our favorites to win baseball’s biggest hardware this year.
Odds to win AL MVP:
- Josh Donaldson – 9/10
- Mike Trout – 13/12
- Albert Pujols – 25/1
- Nelson Cruz – 40/1
This is a two-horse race between Trout and Donaldson, although give Cruz credit; he’s been excellent for the otherwise underperforming Mariners, on pace for career highs in hits, home runs, and WAR.
Widely regarded as the best player in baseball, Trout lost the head-to-head matchup with Donaldson this weekend, after the Jays swept the Angels in L.A., knocking them from the second Wild Card spot in the process. Donaldson accounted for six runs and nine RBIs to increase his AL lead in both categories.
Trout still leads all AL players in WAR, and has yet to commit an error in center field this year. Trout’s hitting numbers could be better, but everyone else in the Angels lineup sucks, except the guy hitting behind him; thus, Pujols also gets a nod here.
If the Angels can’t get it together and wind up missing the postseason, Trout’s numbers aren’t dominant enough to stop voters from siding with Donaldson instead.
Odds to win NL MVP:
- Bryce Harper – 20/21
- Paul Goldschmidt – 7/2
- Zack Greinke – 4/1
- Buster Posey – 9/1
Harper has done more than his challengers with fewer at-bats; he leads the NL in home runs, OPS, and WAR. You can’t ignore what Goldschmidt has done on a bad Diamondbacks team: along with Harper, he’s the only other player in the majors with an OPS over 1.000. Posey has been great at the plate, too, all while playing the physically demanding position of catcher. But none of these guys are currently playoff bound.
If the Nationals, D-Backs, and Giants wind up missing the playoffs, Harper may still get the MVP nod. But don’t be surprised if voters pull a repeat of last year and reward Dodger pitcher Zack Greinke, whose numbers are on par with teammate Clayton Kershaw’s from his 2014 MVP season.
Odds to win AL Cy Young:
- Sonny Gray – 7/4
- Dallas Keuchel – 5/2
- Chris Archer – 10/3
- David Price – 5/1
As we said before, the CY Young award has always been sympathetic to pitchers with less-than-ideal surroundings. Gray has the AL’s lowest ERA and WHIP, while posting a respectable 12-5 record with a bottom-of-the-league Oakland team.
Keuchel (2.37 ERA) and Archer (2.77 ERA) figure to be his biggest competition over the final months. Keuchel is tied for the most wins in the league (14), and the most complete game shutouts (two, which is tied with Gray). Archer has been erratic at times, but his 205 strikeouts trail only Chris Sale in the AL.
Lastly, don’t forget about the old-guard, Price, who looks rejuvenated with a new team that’s in the middle of a playoff chase.
Odds to win NL Cy Young:
- Zack Greinke – 2/5
- Jacob deGrom – 9/2
- Jake Arrieta – 11/1
- Max Scherzer – 16/1
If there was a team Cy Young award, deGrom and the Mets hurlers would have a chance; but for the individual award, this one is Greinke’s to lose. Posting an insanely low 0.85 WHIP and 1.67 ERA, Greinke is having a better season than legends Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, or Roger Clemens ever did. It would take a few awful starts in a row to knock Greinke back to a level where deGrom or Arrieta, the Cubs surprising youngster, could catch him.
Remember a few months ago when we all talked about Scherzer being the most dominant pitcher in baseball? Maybe voters will, too, and ignore the awful stretch he’s been on. The Nationals certainly need him pitching like an ace again down the stretch.
(Photo Credit: Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Mike Trout. Photo may appear cropped.) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)