As done yesterday with the American League, I will choose whom I believe are the frontrunners for the major MLB awards in the National League as of today:
This race is not even close with Berkman several paces ahead of the competition. His .392/.470/.790 line with 13 HRs is breathtaking. Toss in some solid defense and Berkman seems to be invulnerable. Chipper Jones' amazing performance comes as no surprise, but seeing him still healthy is the bigger wonder. Jones can hit as well as any player in the game so long as he remains in the game. In absolute terms, Utley lags behind the top two in batting, but the fact he plays at 2B gives a boost to the face value of his stats. With Ryan Howard slumping, Utley and Pat Burrell, to a lesser extent, are carrying the Phillies offense. Uggla's stats are way up across the board, especially in the power department. It's no surprise that he has improved this season, but one has to believe he is playing well above his head at the moment. Uggla is probably the most likely to drop out of the top five (for non-injury related reasons). Pujols has more or less had a spot in the top five of the MVP race since he stepped foot in the league. His power is down some so far this year, but his .500 OBP is plain old sick.
- Edinson Volquez
- Carlos Zambrano
- Jake Peavy
- Aaron Cook
- Brandon Webb (Pretty much a toss-up between Webb, Tim Hudson, and Scott Olsen)
Volquez has 27 career games under his belt and an ERA over 5.00, but his control has steadily improved in his young career, and his strikeout skill is astounding. Take into account that he has let up only 1 HR this season and hitters have a .301 Batting Average on Balls in Play against him and it appears as if Volquez, not luck, can take credit for his early season breakthrough. Since Zambrano's strikeout numbers continue to decline, he has to maintain his newfound pinpoint control in order to remain a stud pitcher. Peavy's strikeout numbers are down, he is letting up an unusual number of HRs, and he is still one of the very best pitchers in the league. Aaron Cook seems to be the only guy that doesn't notice he is pitching for Colorado. His career ERA for the Rockies is an impressive 4.31. His success comes in spite of puny strikeout numbers, which he makes up for with meticulous control and by keeping the ball in the park. Webb had much competition for this spot, but it ultimately came down to Webb's better strikeout numbers (meaning he relies least on other people to do his job) and the greater likelihood he would be in this race at the end.
Rookie of the Year
Offensively, Soto has been in the zone with a .400+ OBP and a .580 SLG, which are pretty amazing numbers from a catcher. In addition, he has been an asset with the glove, throwing out 40% of runners. Jurrjens has been a relief to the Braves' pitching staff, keeping the ball in the park and overpowering hitters. Another Chicago newbie, Kosuke Fukudome, has adjusted well to America, getting on base often and playing near perfect defense. Young stud Joey Votto has brought his power to the majors in full force. Dewitt's glove at the hot corner is the strength of his game, but he also has solid doubles power at the plate.
Also appears at my blog.