and the AL awards picks continue, with
Cy Young Award- Blake Snell , Tampa Bay. the southpaw really came into his own in his third big league season, going 21-5 with a stellar 1.89 ERA through 31 starts. That ERA is not only about half what his prior career number was but was also a third of a run better than any of the 64 other AL hurlers who made it to 100 innings. His 96 MPH fastball helped him to 221 K compared to just 64 BB; opponents hit under .200 and slugged only .300 against him. Hard to argue with the league’s wins and ERA leader… although some have tried. Only knock against him is that he didn’t pitch as many innings as some, 180 2/3 to be exact. Granted, it would be nice to see a few more outs per start from him, but that’s more a function of the Rays managing strategies than his ability. And you can’t argue with success, which he had, helping the Rays to a solid third place in the toughest division in baseball. Take away his decisions and Tampa would be more or less a .500 club, not one that was in contention for a Wild Card spot.
Runner-up – Justin Verlander, Houston. Not long ago it seemed JV was nearly washed up on a moribund Tigers team. His velocity was down, ERA was up and he no longer instilled fear in batters on deck waiting to face him. Well, maybe it’s Kate Upton, maybe it’s being on a winning team… somehow Justin’s found a Fountain of Youth and is back to near his prime. This year he tied teammate Dallas Keuchel for the most starts (34) and was second in innings pitched, 214, and finished 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA. His heater is back up to 95 and he led the league with 290 stirkeouts. More suprising, he walked only 37, twenty less than his best total in a 200 inning season before.
Following him, a toss-up between Corey Kluber of Cleveland (20-7, 2.89, league-leading 215 IP) and Gerritt Cole of Houston (15-5, 2.88 through 32 starts.)
Coming next– the all-important MVP!