BRINGING HOME THE HARDWARE
A way-too-early MLB season awards list that includes a Houston Astros player or two
That didn’t take long. The baseball season is only 1/5th done and everything is going to script. The best teams are in first place, ace pitchers are firing on all cylinders and big boppers are balling. For the most part. Joey Gallo can’t hit .191 forever. We might want to revisit that, however.
Pretty much baseball could call off the season, start the post-season with the teams on top now, and save everybody the time and trouble until November when the Astros hire A.J. Hinch to replace Dusty Baker after the Astros win the World Series.
That’s not a prediction. That’s a spoiler. Free dining room furniture for everybody!
As the great philosopher Bobby Heenan once said, “No matter how hard you shake the bottle, the cream will always rise to the top.” The American League division leaders are the Astros, Yankees and Twins. The Angels, Rays and Blue Jays are in wildcard position.
Nobody else in the American League is above .500. You know Newton’s first law of motion – an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction. That goes for American League baseball, too.
National League division leaders are the Dodgers, Mets and Brewers. They ain’t going nowhere. The Padres, Giants and Cards round out the wildcard picture. Done.
Let’s look at the results for MLB’s 2022 individual awards.
American League MVP: Mike Trout. After missing most of last year with a nagging leg injury that wouldn’t heal, Trout is up to his old tricks. He’s mashing .310 with 8 homers and leading the Los Angeles Angels to a surprising 24-14 record and, here’s something new, playoff contention. This will be his fourth MVP. He’s just 30 years old. The record is seven, held by Barry Bonds. It’s a shaky record for the obvious.
National League MVP: Manny Machado. Unlike the NBA, or so it seems, personality and likability don’t matter to baseball’s MVP voters. Machado is raking .359 with .443 on base percentage and 1.029 OPS. That’s Cooperstown stuff.
American League Cy Young Award: Coming off Tommy John surgery that cost him two seasons, Justin Verlander is 5-1 with an itty 1.38 ERA. It’s a shock when the other team scores a run. Verlander could double up the Cy Young Award with Comeback Player of the Year.
National League Cy Young Award: Max Scherzer, 4-2 and still throwing 95 mph, same as he did as a rookie in 2008, says anything Verlander can do, he can do better. One better. If Verlander wins his third Cy Young this year, Scherzer will get his fourth, while leading the Mets back to prominence. Pretty impressive for a guy suffering from heterochromia iridum.
American League Home Run King: Let’s give it to Aaron Judge, 12 homers thus far, over Yordan Alvarez and Byron Buxton with 11 bombs. How many times have we heard, “that ball would be a home run in only one MLB park, Yankee Stadium.” Yeah, the Crawford Boxes are cozy, but Yankee Stadium makes Minute Maid Park look like a West Texas cow pasture.
National League Home Run King: Pete Alonso of the refurbished Mets. He’s a one-tool guy, but that one tool is putting a ball into orbit.
Rookie of the Year: Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena, unless his “day to day” injury status turns into weeks to weeks, Astros-style. Who’s the Astros’ team physician, Dr. Feelgood? Remember when Alex Bregman stubbed his toe and was out for a month? George Springer burned his tongue on some hot soup – two months. Last night Jake Odorizzi collapsed on the mound like he was Gillooly’d, and the Astros describe it today as “lower leg discomfort.”
The only mystery left in the 2022 season is … every time the camera turns on Jose Altuve, he’s biting his fingernails. How’s he not chewing on nubs now?