MLB

Mike Trout and Justin Verlander lead the pack of AL Award Hopefuls

The American League All-Stars won the MLB All-Star Game 4-3 last week, securing the AL’s seventh straight win in the game. Justin Verlander got the game off on the right foot for the American League with two strikeouts in a scoreless first inning. Mike Trout wore the No. 45 in the All-Star Game in honor of his former teammate, Tyler Skaggs.

With the All-Star Game officially in the rear view mirror, these two superstars will now focus on trying to secure a playoff spot for their teams in the second half. And in the process of winning games, they just might be on their way to securing some hardware for their trophy cases as well.

Mike Trout is on track to win a third AL MVP Award

Mike Trout is the best baseball player in the world. When it’s all said and done, he could go down as the greatest ever. Joining Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, and Alex Rodrigues as the sixth player to ever win three AL MVP Awards this season wouldn’t hurt.

Coming out of the first weekend out of the all-star break, Trout ranks second in the AL in runs (74), first in home runs (30), first in RBI (75), first in walks (77), eighth in batting average (.305), first in on base percentage (.455), first in slugging percentage (.666), first in OPS (1.121) and first in WAR (6.2). He has also been outstanding on defense, per usual.

Trout is running away with this race (oh, and he has eight stolen bases, too). Alex Bregman and DJ LaMahieu are both having excellent seasons as well, but Trout would likely have to miss significant playing time in the second half to have any real shot at being caught.

Justin Verlander leads a tight race for the AL Cy Young Award

Justin Verlander pitching against the Texas Rangers
Justin Verlander pitching against the Texas Rangers | Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

Through his first 20 starts, Justin Verlander has made a compelling case that he is deserving of the second career. Verlander has the best WHIP in the AL at 0.81, ranks third in the AL in ERA (2.98) and WAR (4.0) and is tied for 2nd in the AL in wins with 11 and in strikeouts with 160.

One of the pitcher Verlander is tied with at 11 wins is Charlie Morton, who has the best ERA in the American League at 2.35. Morton also ranks fifth in the AL in WHIP (1.04), fourth in WAR (3.8) and seventh in strikeouts (148).

Mike Minor is in the mix as well. The 31-year-old is lagging a bit behind the pack in strikeouts (ranked 10th in the AL with 121) and WHIP (ranked 14th at 1.14), but he’s got the AL’s second best ERA (2.73) and its best WAR by a considerable margin at 5.6.

This will be an interesting race that will come down to how these pitchers perform down the stretch and which performance metrics the voters decide to weigh most heavily.

Brandon Lowe has been the best of the AL rookies

Brandon Lowe rounds the bases after a home run
Brandon Lowe rounds the bases after a home run | Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

While Charlie Morton and the pitching staff are the main reason that the Tampa Bay Rays are looking like a real contender this season, the offensive production of rookie Brandon Lowe has played a big role as well. The 25-year-old second baseman leads the Rays in home runs (16), RBI (49), and WAR (2.9). He is batting .276 on the year and also has 40 runs and five stolen bases.

Lowe has a good lead for AL Rookie of the Year but has been out since July 2 with a shin contusion. If the injury lingers and limits his production in the second half, it could open the door for John Means (88.2 innings pitched, 2.94 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 73 strikeouts) or Michael Chavis (39 R, 15 HR, 48 RBI, .258 BA).

Vladamir Guerrero Jr. hasn’t played his way into the conversation with a disappointing .245 batting average, eight home runs and 25 RBI this season. But after Guerrero Jr.’s thrilling performance in the Home Run Derby, a second-half tear would drum up a ton of hype for the young slugger.