Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw warms up in the outfield prior to the game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago on May, 30, 2016. Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI | License Photo
Madison Bumgarner is 9-4 with a 2.09 ERA for the first-place San Francisco Giants, the team with the best record in the National League. Jake Arrieta is 12-3 with a 2.33 ERA for the first-place Chicago Cubs and has pitched a no-hitter. Stephen Strasburg is 11-0 with a 2.71 ERA for the first-place Washington Nationals. And Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins is averaging 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings, something only Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez have done in a full season.
It looks like the race for the National League Cy Young is a hot one and yet it really isn't as we head into the mythical midpoint of the baseball season.
Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw would win the hardware if it were given today, even though he is on the 15-day disabled list at the moment. Kershaw has compiled an 11-2 record with a 1.79 ERA and in 121 innings has struck out 145 and walked just nine.
With the mathematical midpoint of the season still big in the rearview mirror and the All-Star Game break coming up fast, it is a perfect time to take stock of the race for baseball's big awards. Here then are our choices if we had to pick them today.
National League MVP
Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (17) hits a single against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning at Wrigley Field in Chicago on May, 8, 2016. Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI
The Cubs have the best offense in NL and a dead heat for the leader in this race. The nod though goes to Kris Bryant over Anthony Rizzo. Bryant leads the league in home runs (25), runs scored (68) and WAR (4.2 so far) and is second in RBI (64). He also has shown great versatility in playing six different positions: all three outfield spots and every infield spot except second base.
Rizzo has 20 home runs and 61 RBI and a .962 OPS. There is an argument here, too for Kershaw though he doesn't play every day. And the Rockies' Nolan Arenado has 23 homers and 69 RBI but it's being obscured by an unsuccessful team.
The top five: 1. Bryant, 2. Rizzo, 3. Kershaw, 4. Yoenis Cespedes (Mets), 5. Arenado.
NL Cy Young
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw. Photo by Rich Kane/UPI
The hardest part of this is how to order the pitchers behind Clayton Kershaw. Bumgarner, Arrieta, Strasburg and Fernandez have been excellent. The Giants' Johnny Cueto
is 13-1 with a 2.47 ERA and Mets closer Jeurys Familia is 30-for-30 converting saves.
The top five: 1. Kershaw, 2. Arrieta, 3. Fernandez, 4. Cueto, 5. Familia.
NL Rookie of the Year
Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager (5) out-reaches a fan to make the out on a foul ball during game 4 of the NLDS at on October 13, 2015. Photo by Ray Stubblebine/UPI
Corey Seager of the Dodgers has little competition so far. He has stepped into the premiere defensive position on the team and has been a force with a .303 average and 17 home runs, 41 RBI and a .900 OPS. Though Rockies shortstop Trevor Story has more home runs (19) and RBI (51), he hasn't made nearly the impact that Seager has.
The top three: 1. Seager, 2. Story, 3. Aldemys Diaz (Cardinals).
NL Manager of the Year
Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker congratulates his palyers after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on April 29, 2016. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
The Nationals should have been much better than they were last year, but Matt Williams
was arguably the worst manager in baseball in 2015. Dusty Baker
has changed the culture of the team and it has risen not only to its expectation but even beyond. Does he have a lot to work with? Yes. But this is largely the same group that cratered a year ago.
The top three: 1. Baker, 2. Don Mattingly (Marlins), 3. Bruce Bochy (Giants).