As we approach what you might call the quarter pole of the baseball season, the races for the major postseason player awards are starting to narrow to fairly small lists of candidates, with one and possibly two already all but decided. If the season ended today, here is how I would vote on the two MVP awards, the two Cy Young awards, and the AL Rookie of the Year award, with brief explanations for each. I'm voting on the NL Rookie of the Year award this year, so I will not discuss that award again until the results of the balloting are revealed in November.
1. Mike Trout
2. Robinson Cano
3. Justin Verlander
4. Austin Jackson
5. Felix Hernandez
Trout has the performance and the narrative in his favor right now; if he maintains this crazy level of performance, the only argument against him would be if the Angels miss the playoffs, and claiming that an individual player's value is somehow tied to the performance of his teammates is just flat-earth thinking.
One of the most popular questions I've gotten recently is whether Miguel Cabrera will win the AL MVP award. I don't presume to know what the voters will do, but I know that as it stands right now, he shouldn't appear in the top three spots on any ballot.
Cabrera's offensive performance has been solid, but he's a major negative on defense at third base, so a player like Cano, a good defender at a position (second base) where offensive levels are lower, is more valuable overall even though Cabrera has slightly higher raw rate stats. Cabrera is the third-most valuable player on his own team
, behind Verlander and Jackson, the latter of whom has completely transformed himself at the plate this year and is a plus defender in center.