Sale Among The Frontrunners For Top Awards

Bobby Ilich
International Business Times
Chris Sale is an American League Cy Young and MVP candidate in 2017.

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Chris Sale is an American League Cy Young and MVP candidate in 2017.

There are roughly 40 games remaining in the MLB season, and though there are still plenty of opportunities for players to shine in the final weeks, it's not too soon to break down the favorites for the MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards.

One thing seems very clear: the American League has more "sure things" than the National League.

AL MVP

Contenders: Jose Altuve (Astros - 18 HR, 66 RBI, 26 SB, .361/.420/.566/.986), Chris Sale (Red Sox - 14-4, 2.51 ERA, 168.1 innings), Aaron Judge (Yankees - 37 HR, 80 RBI, 7 SB, .288/.418/.608/1.026), Mike Trout (Angels - 23 HR, 55 RBI, 13 SB, .340/.466/.679/1.145)

Breakdown: Judge has a big lead in OPS, but his numbers are declining fast as he seems to have hit a wall in his first full season. Sale is hurt by being a pitcher since only Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander have won the MVP award since Dennis Eckersley in 1992. Trout is having another spectacular season, but has only played in 76 games and has 268 at-bats. Altuve is having an excellent all-around season and plays for a team that is a lock to make the postseason. 

Prediction: Altuve

AL Cy Young

Contenders: Chris Sale (Red Sox - 14-4, 2.51 ERA, 168.1 innings), Corey Kluber (Indians - 11-3, 2.71 ERA, 139.2 innings), Marcus Stroman (Blue Jays - 11-6, 2.99 ERA, 159.1 innings), Luis Severino (Yankees - 10-5, 3.18 ERA, 150 innings)

Breakdown: It's hard to imagine Severino making a late charge, and Stroman plays for a team that isn't in the postseason race. That means it's a two-man race, and Sale has the edge on Kluber because he's pitched more innings, has the better win-loss record and ERA, and has more strikeouts (241 compared to Kluber's 192).

Prediction: Sale

AL Rookie Of The Year

Contenders: Aaron Judge (Yankees - 37 HR, 80 RBI, 7 SB, .288/.418/.608/1.026), Trey Mancini (Orioles - 21 HR, 62 RBI, .290/.341/.517/.858), Jordan Montgomery (Yankees - 7-6, 3.94 ERA, 121 innings)  

Breakdown: Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi was previously part of this part of this group, but his slugging percentage isn't good enough. Montgomery's win-loss record is weak, and there might be some concern he will show fatigue in the final weeks of the season. Mancini is the hidden gem of this group, but he is overshadowed by Judge, who has a strong chance of leading the league in homers.

Prediction: Judge

NL MVP

Contenders: Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks - 29 HR, 95 RBI, 16 SB, .319/.433/.601/1.034), Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins - 44 HR, 94 RBI, .287/.378/.645/1.023), Nolan Arenado (Rockies - 27 HR, 103 RBI, .311/.361/.590/.954), Joey Votto (Reds - 32 HR, 86 RBI, .316/.448/.601/1.049)

Breakdown: This is an open race. Justin Turner and Bryce Harper could be added to this list, but they will have fewer opportunities to shine with the Dodgers and Nationals cruising to division titles. Votto has the best OPS in baseball, but the Reds aren't going to the postseason. Votes will likely be split between Stanton and Goldschmidt. Stanton is running away with the home run crown, while Goldschmidt has better all-around numbers on a team that has a very good shot to reach the postseason.

Prediction: Goldschmidt

NL Cy Young

Contenders: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers - 15-2, 2.04 ERA, 141.1 innings), Max Scherzer (Nationals - 12-5, 2.25 ERA, 160.1 innings), Gio Gonzalez (Nationals - 11-5, 2.49 ERA, 155.1 innings)

Breakdown: When will Kershaw return? It could be any day now, and if he pitches at the same level as he had before a lower back strain sidelined him on July 23, he would probably be the favorite. Until then, it looks like Scherzer, who at the moment has an edge on his teammate Gonzalez. Scherzer has 220 strikeouts, which is well ahead of the pack.

Prediction: Scherzer

NL Rookie Of The Year

Contenders: Corey Bellinger (Dodgers - 34 HR, 79 RBI, 9 SB, .277/.357/.621/.978), Josh Bell (Pirates - 20 HR, 66 RBI, .260/.338/.489/.827), Kyle Freeland (Rockies - 11-7, 3.74 ERA, 127.2 innings)  

Breakdown: This one seems pretty wrapped up. Bellinger has been on a tear from the time he was called up. It would take a big drop off from the Dodger rookie and a surge in production from Bell and Freeland to take the award away from him. Probably not going to happen.

Prediction: Bellinger

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