So we’re five (or six, or seven) games into the major league season, and apparently, some people are already drawing conclusions from an absurdly small sample of games. Apparently the Red Sox have a serious problem after only six games (as if they can’t make up a five-game deficit in the division over the last 156 games of the season). Or apparently one start from Cole Hamels, because it came at the start of the season, outweighs a lifetime of great performances from the lefty. But anyway, I think the fact that this particular stretch of six games bears special significance in a way that no other randomly-selected six-game stretch does, just because it came in April. (Need proof? First-place Kansas City Royals and last-place Boston Red Sox as of April 7.)
So about a week ago, we posted staff predictions for the final MLB standings and for awards. I’d like to revise my previous predictions. I figure you won’t mind, since it’s only been a week. But by keeping everyone’s rate stats the same, and projecting counting stats out over 162 games (for position players) or 33 starts (for starting pitchers), I think I can get a better picture of how this season will turn out.
NL MVP: Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies: .480/.500/.840, 54 HR, 216 RBI
Ryan Howard is on pace to DEMOLISH the all-time major league records for hits, batting average and RBI. As the centerpiece of the National League’s co-leading team, he’s shown that the Phillies miss neither Chase Utley nor Jayson Werth, particularly with Wilson Valdez on pace to best Chase Utley‘s career high in batting average by nearly 100 points and Ben Francisco in line for a 9 WAR season. But still, when a team’s on pace to score 1,161 runs over the course of a season, someone from that offense deserves recognition.
AL MVP: Howie Kendrick, IF, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: .417/.517/.917, 81 HR, 270 H, 189 R
Kendrick’s team is on pace to go .500 and finish 81 games out of first place, so how valuable can he be, right? But any second baseman who can hit 81 homers in a season deserves MVP consideration. Particularly when he’s got the makings of a 21.6 WAR season, something that Barry Bonds or Babe Ruth never even sniffed at.
NL Cy Young: Jaime Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals: 33-0, 0.00 ERA, 297 K, 0.66 WHIP
Many worthy contenders here, but Garcia’s on pace to throw a complete-game shutout every time he takes the mound. Go ahead, argue with that. I dare you.
AL Cy Young: Edwin Jackson, Chicago White Sox: 33-0, 1.93 ERA, 330 K, 1.00 WHIP
Not as great as Garcia on the WHIP or ERA, but Jackson, many times a discarded prospect, is set to come good this season, with some truly staggering strikeout numbers. He’s averaging 12.86 K/9 through two starts, and if he keeps those numbers up, he’ll post the first 300-strikeout season in nearly a decade.
NL Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves: 0-0, 54 SV, 0.00 WHIP, 22.5 K/9
That’s not a misprint: if these numbers keep up, Craig Kimbrel will strike out five of every six batters he faces, pick up a save every time he takes the mound, and not allow a baserunner all year. Aren’t those just outstanding numbers? If only he were on pace for more than 54 innings, he might stand a chance in Cy Young voting against starting pitchers like Garcia, who stand to throw nearly six times as many innings as that.
AL Rookie of the Year: Kyle Drabek, Toronto Blue Jays: 33-0, 1.29 ERA, 231 K, 0.57 WHIP
You could make the argument that Drabek’s better than Jackson based on their respective first weeks of the season. Drabek, if he keeps this up, would become the first rookie ever to win 30 games, along with Zach Britton of the Orioles. Should of kept Drabek, right guys?
NL Manager of the Year: Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates
This award is usually for doing the most with the least, and Hurdle is on pace to lead a perpetual laughingstock to its first winning season since 1992, when 2010 No. 1 draft pick Bryce Harper was but a fetus. Even though they’re set to miss the playoffs, a 93-win projection is nothing to sneeze at, and Hurdle deserves a ton of credit.
AL Manager of the Year: Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles
Who else but Buck? Talking the talk and walking the walk to first place over the twin Evil Empires of Boston and New York. On pace for a major league-record 135 wins and first place in the AL East by 27 games! Give this man an award!
NL East: Phillies
NL Central: Reds
NL West: Rockies
NL Wild Card: Padres
AL East: Orioles
AL Central: White Sox
AL West: Rangers
AL Wild Card: Blue Jays
Divisional Round: Phillies over Rockies, Reds over Padres; Rangers over Blue Jays, Orioles over White Sox
LCS: Reds over Phillies, Rangers over Orioles
World Series: Rangers over Reds in 4 to complete the first undefeated season in MLB history!