MLB pennant races are heating up, especially in the American League, where a majority of teams are still in contention to claim a playoff spot. As teams look to make the postseason, their best players are stepping up and putting themselves in contention to win individual awards.
The best players from last year have continued their success in 2015, as MVP winner Mike Trout and Cy Young winner Corey Kluber continue to put up impressive numbers. But players who have never won either award have a chance to do so this season as they put up career-best statistics.
Below is a look at who is most likely to win the top individual awards in the American League at the end of the season.
With less than two months remaining in the regular season, it’s a two-man race for the AL MVP award. Josh Donaldson has a chance to be named the league’s top player, especially if the Toronto Blue Jays make the playoffs. But it’s Trout’s award to lose, and there’s little reason to believe his production will take a hit.
Trout has been the AL’s top performer for a fourth consecutive season, leading the league with 32 home runs and a .611 slugging percentage. His defense has been above average, and while Donaldson might be even better in the field, it will be difficult for the third baseman to make up for the .81-point difference in the sluggers’ OPS.
Prediction: Mike Trout
There are several contenders in the race for the AL Cy Young award, but Dallas Keuchel looks to be the favorite. Leading the Houston Astros to first place in the AL West, the starter is near the top of every major category. His 13 wins (first), 140 strikeouts (seventh), 2.35 ERA (third) and 0.99 WHIP (second) give him numbers that are as good as anyone else’s in the AL.
While other starters like Sonny Gray and Chris Archer have put up similar statistics, Keuchel will get the edge because his team is playoff bound. Chris Sale looked to be near the top of the race at the All-Star break, but his 3.52 ERA will have to improve if he hopes to win the award.
Prediction: Dallas Keuchel
Rookie of the Year
Carlos Correa didn’t play much in the first half of the season, but he now has enough at-bats to put him ahead of the other first-year players in the AL. His 2.9 WAR leads all AL rookies, and the gap between the next best player and him will only continue to get bigger. He’s hit 13 home runs in just 199 at-bats, and his .306 batting average in July shows just how quickly he’s adapted to playing in the Majors.
Seattle Mariners reliever Carson Smith was terrific in the first half, but a 5.40 ERA in July and three runs allowed in the first three days of August have knocked him out of contention. Devon Travis is batting .304 for the Blue Jays, but multiple stints on the DL will keep him from winning the award.
Prediction: Carlos Correa