Spoiler: If Mike Trout stays healthy, he’s probably going to win the AL MVP award.?
The other American League awards, though? Those races are wide damn open. That’s enough of an intro, right? Let’s dig in.
Leader: Mike Trout is doing Mike Trout things, as usual. He leads the AL in WAR (both formulas), on-base percentage (.462), slugging (.630), OPS+ (191) and walks (65), among other things. Those three percentage/rate stats are career bests, which is really saying something.
As for categories he’s not leading the league, he’s still producing home runs (20), doubles (17), RBIs (49) and stolen bases (7). If anyone else was producing this type of season, we would be shouting their brilliance from the rooftops. But it’s Trout, and it’s expected. It’s still great, though.?
— The most surprising name on this list is Jorge Polanco, Twins shortstop. He’s been fine when healthy in the past — 2.1 bWAR in 133 games in 2017 and 1.5 bWAR in 77 games last year — but he’s been an offensive revelation in 2019. Polanco leads the league with his .326 average, to go with 10 homers (his career high is 13), .387 on-base percentage, 21 doubles and 147 OPS+.
—?Alex Bregman’s average is down a bit (.265), but don’t look at that — his BABIP is a very-low .242 and figures to rebound. Instead, look at the .396 on-base percentage, the 55-to-42 walks-to-strikeouts number, the 20 homers or the 149 OPS+ or the fact that he’s third in both WAR calculations.
—?Joey Gallo has missed most of June with an oblique injury, but he’s on his way back to Texas, where he was having, by far, his best season. In 50 games, Gallo had 17 homers, a .421 on-base percentage and 172 OPS+.?
Worth a mention:
—?Xander Bogaerts is posting his best season for the Red Sox, and his 3.0 bWAR is identical to teammate Mookie Betts.
— Speaking of teammates, Oakland’s Marcus Semien and Matt Chapman have been outstanding this year and;
—?Polanco’s teammates Byron Buxton and Max Kepler are authoring fine 2019 campaigns for the Twins.?
AL Cy Young
Leaders: There isn’t anything resembling a clear favorite right now. Heck, Lance Lynn, who has a 4.16 ERA/2.99 FIP, leads the AL in FanGraphs WAR. So instead, we’ll look at …?
—?Lucas Giolito leads the AL in ERA (2.22) and FIP (2.70), which is a nice double. After an awful 2018 campaign (more on that here), Giolito’s bounce-back White Sox season includes a K/9 rate of 10.6 and a good-not-great K/BB rate of 3.65.
—?Justin Verlander’s career renaissance has continued this season in Houston. In 107 2/3 innings, he’s struck out 133 and allowed just 60 hits — a H/9 of 5.0 that’s easily his career best — and 20 walks. Those are damn impressive numbers. His 2.59 ERA is fourth in the AL, but his 3.78 FIP is only 14th.
—?Mike Minor leads in Baseball-Reference WAR, at 4.6; he has a 2.63 ERA in 15 starts for the Rangers, with 9.3 strikeouts per nine, but he has a 3.72 FIP.
—?Matthew Boyd has been really good for the Tigers this year; he has a 3.35 ERA/3.00 FIP in 15 starts and leads the AL with a 6.59 K/BB ratio.?
Worth a mention:
—?Lynn leads AL pitchers in fWAR, as noted.
—?Charlie Morton (2.37 ERA/2.88 FIP) has been outstanding for Tampa Bay.
—?Chris Sale has been great after a rough start.
— In Minnesota, Jose Berrios (2.86 ERA) and Jake Odorizzi (2.24 ERA) have helped lead a stellar Twins rotation.
—?John Means has been a bright spot for the Orioles, with a 2.67 ERA in 16 games (12 starts) this season.?
AL Rookie of the Year
Leader: Brandon Lowe had 129 at-bats last year for the Rays, which is a pretty important number. See, anyone exceeding 130 ABs — why it’s not plate appearances is an excellent question —?loses their rookie status. Lowe finished with 129, so he’s eligible for the award, and he’s having a fantastic season for the Rays. In 239?ABs this year, Lowe has 15 homers, 15 doubles, a .285?average, an .885?OPS and a solid 2.8?bWAR.?
Contending: Staying atop this list won’t be easy for Lowe.
— Two much-hyped prospects, Eloy Jiménez and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.?,are making an impact. Jiménez has a dozen homers — including the key two-run, ninth-inning blast in the ninth inning against the Cubs on Tuesday night — in 47 games for the White Sox. Vlad Jr. is up to seven homers and a .747 OPS in 43 games for the Jays.
— In Boston, Michael Chavis has equaled Jiménez’s home-run total in 54 games.
—?Spencer Turnbill has been a much-needed solid presence in Detroit’s rotation; he has a 3.27 ERA in 15 starts.
—The same can be said of John Means in Baltimore — 2.67 ERA in 16 games (12 starts).?
Worth a mention: We’d be remiss not to point out rookie relievers making a big impact this year;
—?Ty Buttrey for the Angels (2.02 ERA, 10.6 K/9), Ryne Harper for the Twins (2.17 ERA, 1.000 WHIP) and Marcus Walden for the Red Sox (2.50 ERA, 9.8 K/9 in 39 2/3 innings).
— Oh, and he only has five starts under his belt, but Zach Plesac has a 2.56 ERA and has thrown seven full innings three times for Cleveland.?