With the 2017 MLB trade deadline in the rearview mirror, the focus now completely shifts to the final stretch of the regular season. While we feel like we have a pretty good handle on which players are most likely to win the major individual awards, the reality is that there is still a lot of baseball left to play and the potential outcomes could go down to the wire. Here is a look at the American League award projections for this season.
AL Rookie of the Year
One award that won’t go down to the wire is the AL Rookie of the Year honor, which will go to Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees. Judge leads all AL hitters with 35 home runs this season and ranks third in the AL with 78 RBI. While his pace has cooled somewhat after a blistering first half, Judge is still hitting .299 on the season with a 1.051 OPS. A long first season in the majors will take its toll on the rookie phenom but there should be no doubt at this point that Judge is deserving of Rookie of the Year honors in the AL.
AL Manager of the Year
While this award might not be a lock just yet, there is a good chance that Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch wins AL Manager of the Year. Houston owns the best record in the AL with 71 wins, which is eight more than the Boston Red Sox at this point in the season. The Astros have completely turned things around following a disappointing season in which they won only 84 games and finished third in the AL West a year ago. Hinch is the clear favorite to win AL Manager of the Year at this point.
AL Cy Young Award
Injuries to Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber and Houston Astros No. 1 Dallas Keuchel has completely opened the door for Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox to run away with this award. Sale has posted a solid 2.70 ERA with a 0.91 WHIP and a 12.68 ERA through 153.1 innings pitched for Boston. His 13 wins with the Red Sox are tied for the second-most in the majors this season behind only Clayton Kershaw. As long as Sale continues to cruise he should be in position to win the AL Cy Young award this season.
AL MVP Award
Judge is the sports betting favorite to win the AL MVP, but he isn’t a lock to win the award in the same way he is a lock to win AL Rookie of the Year honors. A lot will depend on his performance but also on the team. The Yankees could be win the division and be a playoff team, or they could miss everything altogether. They have won two in a row and have a +115 run differential – the second-best in the American League – but they are also still in second place in the American League East. Their lead in the Wild Card race is just +2.5, so they could possibly blow it.
Judge’s poor start to the second half has opened the door for Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros to contend for the award with a strong finish. Altuve has hit a ridiculous .364 this season with 16 home runs and 77 runs scored. While his 16 home runs are 19 fewer than Judge, Altuve has 24 stolen bases this season compared to six for Judge. It also helps Altuve that he has been his best over the last month of action, hitting .441 with a 1.152 OPS over the last 30 days. Moreover, the Astros have been the best team in the American League. If the Yankees fade, that will be one of the strongest points for Altuve. He’s the best player on the best team in the AL and the voters often like to go for that.
Judge is still the favorite to win the AL MVP award. However, Altuve is definitely in the mix as another strong choice to win AL MVP for the 2017 season. We’ll see if anyone else can slip into this race but right now it looks like these two.
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