Hello and welcome to the September edition of my MVP and Cy Young Leader board! We are now over 130 games into the season and the leader board is becoming both more clear but also more murky. The NL Cy Young continues to be a battle, while the NL MVP race is no longer looking like a complete lock for Acuna. You can check out the August 1 Edition of this article and see how things have changed over the last month.
These rankings are based on a mix of stats to date, my projected stats moving forward, team record, etc. Feel free to debate them if you want to and I will give my reasoning behind each decision. You can look to find potential value in futures bets on any sportsbook with the help of these rankings.
Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves (Prev: 1)
Stats: 133 Games, .337/.419/.574, 30 Home Runs, 62 Steals, 83 RBI, 120 Runs, 6.7 fWAR
Notes: Things are getting VERY interesting for NL MVP, but I still give Acuna the slight edge, especially after becoming the first player EVER to have 30 home runs and 60 steals in a season.
Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers (Prev: 3)
Stats: 127 Games, .317/.411/.622, 38 Home Runs, 10 Steals, 98 RBI, 116 Runs, 7.8 fWAR
Notes: Betts is definitely making a case for MVP and he now has the fWAR lead in the NL, and by a wide margin. He had an absurd month of August, hitting .455 with 11 home runs, 30 RBI, and 35 runs scored. He could somehow pull this off if he keeps this going.
Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers (Prev: 2)
Stats: 133 Games, .338/.414/.584, 21 Home Runs, 13 Steals, 73 RBI, 89 Runs, 6.9 fWAR
Notes: Freeman had a fantastic month of his own, and yet drops down to third. All three of these guys are having MVP caliber seasons and are FAR above anyone else, but at this point, it’s hard to envision Freeman catching both Acuna and Betts.
Matt Olson, Atlanta Braves (Prev: NR)
Stats: 133 Games, .268/.376/.584, 43 Home Runs, 1 Steal, 112 RBI, 103 Runs, 4.6 fWAR
Notes: Olson has hovered around the honorable mention section for a bit, but he finally makes his way into the rankings. Kind of funny seeing two braves and two dodgers make up the top-4.
Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks (Prev: 4)
Stats: 129 Games, .279/.361/.519, 23 Home Runs, 41 Steals, 65 RBI, 96 Runs, 4.9 fWAR
Notes: Carroll drops down a spot, but it’s still been an unbelievable rookie campaign for him. It would be cool to see him get to the 25-50 mark with a nice final month.
Dropped from ranks:
NL Cy Young
Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves (Prev: 1)
Stats: 26 games, 15-4 record, 3.46 ERA, 2.79 FIP, 153.1 innings, 236 strikeouts, 13.85 K/9, 4.6 fWAR.
Notes: The books have Snell a good bit ahead of Strider, but I don’t see it that way at all. Strider is 1st in FIP, 1st in xERA, 2nd in fWAR (to Wheeler). Personally, if I was a voter, Strider would get my vote; however, voters are still a bit old school and I think that favors Snell. Strider crushes him in everything besides ERA though and he pitches for a playoff team.
Blake Snell, San Diego Padres (Prev: 2)
Stats: 27 games, 11-9 record, 2.60 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 149.0 innings, 193 strikeouts, 11.66 K/9, 2.8 fWAR.
Notes: Snell is now the books favorite to win the award and I can see him taking it home because of league-best ERA, but from a pure individual performance standpoint, Strider has out-pitched him this season and voters have started to factor in things like FIP and xERA.
Zac Gallen, Arizona Diamondbacks (Prev: 3)
Stats: 27 games, 14-6 record, 3.32 ERA, 3.36 FIP, 173.1 innings, 182 strikeouts, 9.45 K/9, 4.0 fWAR.
Notes: Gallen was the favorite on books this time last month, but I had him third anyways and now he has fallen well behind Snell and Strider on books, and is now even further behind them in my eyes. He had a fine month, but Strider and Snell had great months.
Justin Steele, Chicago Cubs (Prev: NR)
Stats: 27 games, 15-3 record, 2.69 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 144.0 innings, 141 strikeouts, 8.81 K/9, 3.9 fWAR.
Notes: I will be honest, I expected a falloff from Steele, but it simply hasn’t happened. His last three starts have been great and he continues to have a fantastic season. A top-5 Cy Young finish looks very likely for the Cubs lefty.
Zack Wheeler, Philadelphia Phillies (Prev: 4)
Stats: 26 games, 10-6 record, 3.59 ERA, 3.01 FIP, 158.0 innings, 175 strikeouts, 9.97 K/9, 5.2 fWAR.
Notes: I continue to be higher on Wheeler than books are, but I am going to continue point to his advanced stats that show he has pitched at a top-3, let alone top-5, level in the NL. He has the highest fWAR among ALL pitchers in baseball and is 3rd in xERA and 4th in FIP.
Dropped from ranks:
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (Prev: 1)
Hitting Stats: 132 Games, .307/.410/.661, 44 Home Runs, 19 Steals, 95 RBI, 101 Runs, 6.5 fWAR.
Pitching Stats: 23 games, 10-5 record, 3.14 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 132.0 innings, 167 strikeouts, 11.39 K/9, 2.3 fWAR.
Notes: Ohtani may not be pitching anymore due to a torn UCL, but he is still putting together one of the greatest seasons ever and books don’t even offer the AL MVP award as a betting option anymore.
Julio Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners (Prev: NR)
Stats: 126 games, .286/.346/.482, 24 Home Runs, 35 Steals, 87 RBI, 82 Runs, 5.3 fWAR
Notes: Jrod had an absolutely absurd month of August to vault himself from unranked to a possible 2nd place MVP finish. He picked up the Mariners and put them on his back as he hit .429 with seven home runs, 11 steals, 30 RBI, and 19 runs scored this month.
Corey Seager, Texas Rangers (Prev: NR)
Stats: 90 Games, .346/.411/.651, 25 Home Runs, 2 Steals, 80 RBI, 68 Runs, 5.4 fWAR
Notes: Okay, I have caved, Seager belongs in the top-5 of MVP discussion even despite playing just 90 games and having nearly zero steals. Despite all that, he is still second in the AL in fWAR, that’s how good he’s been as a hitter.
Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros (Prev: 2)
Stats: 131 Games, .292/.375/.517, 26 Home Runs, 26 Steals, 97 RBI, 79 Runs, 4.3 fWAR.
Notes: Tucker had a strong month of August, but still falls down a peg here. I don’t see him falling out of the top-5 though, which would be a big breakthrough for the sweet-swinging lefty as his previous best finish was 15th last year.
Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City Royals (Prev: NR)
Stats: 132 Games, .276/.317/.501, 27 Home Runs, 38 Steals, 82 RBI, 75 Runs, 5.0 fWAR
Notes: Welcome Mr. Witt to the discussion as well. He had a monster month, hitting .324 with 9 home runs and 9 steals and is really putting together a big campaign now.
Dropped from ranks:
AL Cy Young
Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees (Prev: 1)
Stats: 28 games, 12-4 record, 2.95 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 174.0 innings, 188 strikeouts, 9.72 K/9, 3.6 fWAR.
Notes: Cole continues to surge towards his first Cy Young award. He trails Gray for the AL ERA title by just 0.03 and he has pitched the most innings in the AL to this point. He just needs to continue to string together solid outings and he will walk away with the award.
Kevin Gausman, Toronto Blue Jays (Prev: 2)
Stats: 26 games, 10-8 record, 3.30 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 155.1 innings, 202 strikeouts, 11.70 K/9, 4.7 fWAR.
Notes: Gausman hasn’t pitched all that well lately with a 4.08 ERA over his last 7 starts and it is even worse over his last 3 starts as his ERA in that timeframe is 5.51. He is still safely in the top-5, but his chances of catching Cole for the award have dropped significantly. He does still have the 3rd best FIP and 3rd best fWAR in all of baseball though.
Luis Castillo, Seattle Mariners (Prev: 4)
Stats: 27 games, 11-7 record, 3.01 ERA, 3.65 FIP, 164.1 innings, 181 strikeouts, 9.91 K/9, 3.2 fWAR.
Notes: Castillo has gone a perfect 4-0 over his last four starts with a 2.00 ERA in that span. He has surpassed Gausman in odds on books, but I would still currently have Gausman ahead of him if I were a voter placing my votes today.
Sonny Gray, Minnesota Twins (Prev: NR)
Stats: 27 games, 7-6 record, 2.92 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 157.0 innings, 156 strikeouts, 8.94 K/9, 4.6 fWAR.
Notes: Gray is not getting the love he deserves on the books and I am not really sure why. He currently leads the AL in both ERA and in FIP and plays on a team in first place. Normally that would be the combination for success and, to me, he easily deserves to be in the top-5.
George Kirby, Seattle Mariners (Prev: NR)
Stats: 25 games, 10-8 record, 3.28 ERA, 3.21 FIP, 156.1 innings, 142 strikeouts, 8.17 K/9, 3.9 fWAR.
Notes: Kirby makes his first appearance in the top-5, but I don’t really see him getting any higher than this. He is less electric than the others and doesn’t have quite the same stat-backing. There was certainly no sophomore slump for the young Mariners pitcher though.
Dropped from ranks:
The final release will be October 1 and at that point we should be able to pinpoint these awards very well.