The first quarter of the MLB season is coming to a close and its as good a time as any to take a look back at what we’ve seen so far. First, lets take a look at who might win the end-of-season awards if things ended today:
American League MVP – Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays – In less than a full season, Longoria has turned himself into one of the elite young players in the league. This year, he leads the league in RBI, and is in the top 10 in HRs and batting average and the Rays, who were off to a slow start, look to be getting back on track. Expect him to contend for the triple crown, if not this season, then in the years to come. Also in the running: Justin Morneau, Aaron Hill, Miguel Cabrera.
National League MVP – Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals – This was a close one, but Pujols is more likely than the other candidates to keep up these numbers throughout the remainder of the season. His batting average is down a little this year, but his stolen base numbers are up and the Cardinals are right in the mix at the top of the NL Central. Also in the running: Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Zimmerman, Raul Ibanez.
AL Cy Young – Zack Greinke, SP, Kansas City Royals – No-brainer here. He’s 7-1, with the one loss coming in a 1-0 duel with Joe Saunders, and a 0.60 ERA that leads the majors. With a career ERA near 4.00, It’ll be interesting to see if Greinke and the Royals can keep it up. Also in the running: Roy Halladay.
NL Cy Young – Johan Santana, SP, New York Mets – The 2006 AL Cy Young winner has the lowest ERA in the National League (1.36) and is near the top in strikeouts. His 5-2 record doesn’t look particularly impressive, but the two losses came in games where the only runs scored by his opponents were unearned. Also in the running: Chad Billingsley.
AL & NL Rookie of the Year – Its too early in the season to look at the body of work for all but a few of the rookies we’d expect to make an impact this year. We’ve seen Colby Rasmus and Cameron Maybin get some playing time, but expect David Price, Matt Wieters, and possibly a few others to make an impact before the season comes to a close.
Now, the good, the bad and the ugly from the first two months of the 2009 MLB season:
The Good – The Toronto Blue Jays have been the surprise of 2009 thus far. They have the best record in the AL and are leading one of the tougher divisions in baseball. They’ve always had good pitching (finishing top ten in ERA each of the last 3 seasons), and even with the departure of A.J. Burnett, that’s continued. What’s new here is the surge of hitting from guys that were relatively unknown before the season began. Adam Lind and Aaron Hill are having career years. Hence, the Jays lead the league in team batting average, along with ERA. Are they the Rays of this year? Only time will tell.
The Bad – It wouldn’t be baseball season if we weren’t hearing about steroids at least 45 times a week. Manny Ramirez stole the ‘roid limelight from Alex Rodriguez by testing positive for a banned substance and receiving a 50-game suspension. As if that’s not enough, Roger Clemens continues to poke his head out of retirement to deny juicing. Hopefully the young stars of today will be smart enough to stay away from steroids and baseball can move on from this mess.
The Ugly – Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 Washington Nationals. They lead the league in all the things you don’t want to lead the league in (errors, runs allowed, blown saves) and have the highest team ERA in the majors (5.90). They have a few bright spots in their lineup (Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman, Christian Guzman), but other than that there’s not much to be proud of in the Nation’s Capital. The Nats are near the bottom of the league in attendance, and just when it looked like things couldn’t get any worse, they had a typo on their uniforms.
That about sums up the first quarter of the ’09 MLB season. Thanks for reading, we’ll take a another look at this stuff at the All-Star Break.