Trout clear leader for AL MVP Award
With other awards still in question, Angels star seems like obvious choice for top honor
Step aside, Miguel Cabrera. Here comes Michael Nelson Trout.
After two incredible seasons, the American League MVP Award will no longer belong to Cabrera.
It's going to the best player in the world, the Angels' 22-year-old center fielder who's having a runaway MVP summer.
Picking Major League Baseball's first-half award winners is truly a silly exercise, because the season is a 162-game marathon. It takes consistency over the long haul, and often first-half achievers are forgotten come Oct. 1.
That shouldn't be the case for Trout.
He was runner-up to the Tigers' Cabrera the past two seasons, but barring an unlikely second-half collapse, that won't happen this year. He'll easily win baseball's most prestigious postseason award to go with this 2012 AL Rookie of the Year hardware.
The thing about Trout is he keeps improving. If there's currently a better player -- with his potential -- in the Majors, tell me.
Last April, it took Trout 36 games to hit six homers. This spring, he did it in 23 games.
Consider Mike Trout's June:
He batted .361 with 10 doubles, a triple, seven homers, 21 RBIs, 20 runs scored and five stolen bases.
That output, as the Angels try to overtake Oakland in AL West, earned Trout AL Player of the Month honors.
For the season, he's batting .311 with a .609 slugging percentage, 62 RBIs, 19 homers and 10 stolen bases.
Choosing the National League MVP is much more difficult.
Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki gets the nod, but Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy and Miami's Giancarlo Stanton certainly are in the mix.
And what about 2013 winner Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates?
McCutchen is coming on strong, having just won the June NL Player of the Month Award while batting .343 and ranking among the leaders in key offensive categories.
It's difficult not to choose Tulowitzki; his .351 batting average leads the Majors as do his 66 runs scored. And he has 18 homers.
That the Brewers are atop the NL Central is significant for Lucroy, who's batting .331 with eight homers and 43 RBIs. Plus, as catcher, he handles a demanding position and ranks near the top in innings caught.
Stanton leads the NL in homers with 21, has driven in 61 runs and is batting .313.
The other awards, briefly:
AL Cy Young -- The pick is Seattle's Felix Hernandez. He's 10-2, with a 2.10 ERA. Toronto's Mark Buehrle (10-5, 2.50 ERA), the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka (11-3, 2.10 ERA) and the Rangers' Yu Darvish (8-4, 2.42 ERA) are obviously candidates.
AL Rookie -- It's not a stretch that Tanaka may end up winning the AL Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards. Based on his brilliant first season in New York after arriving from Japan, he's atop my rookie list. A strong argument can be made for the Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu, because he's an everyday player compared to an every-fifth-day pitcher. Abreu is tied for the Major League lead in homers with 26 and has driven in 67 runs. He's batting .280.
AL Manager -- Oakland's Bob Melvin. The A's are the best, most complete team in the Majors at the moment. Melvin is a huge reason why. He has an amazing ability to juggle his lineup. When closer Jim Johnson became ineffective, the A's didn't skip a beat. Sean Doolittle took over, and Oakland still has the best record in MLB.
NL Cy Young -- Adam Wainwright or Clayton Kershaw? And what about Johnny Cueto? My vote easily goes to Wainwright. He's 11-4 with a 1.89 ERA, and he has achieved this with the Cardinals, who have struggled offensively this year. Kershaw spent time on the disabled list, which has left him with a 9-2 record and 2.04 ERA. He was 6-0 in June with 61 strikeouts. Cincinnati's Cueto is 8-6 and has an impressive 1.99 ERA.
NL Rookie -- I have a hunch Pittsburgh's Gregory Polanco will be there when the final bell rings, but for now it's Cincinnati's speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton. In June alone, he batted .327, with three homers, 10 doubles and 18 RBIs. For the season, he's batting .279.
NL Manager -- Milwaukee's Ron Roenicke. Few expected the Brewers to be atop the NL Central at the halfway mark. That they are distancing themselves from St. Louis and Cincinnati is a tribute to their skipper.
Jot down these selections, and when the official awards are announced in November, let me know how these stack up.
But for now, a word of caution: Don't mortgage the house on these selections.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.