Regular schedule be damned. It's been a little bit since the last one of these - over a week - and now that we've closed the door on May and moved into June, it's as good a time as ever to look at the who's who of baseball leaders right now.
A few notes. The AL MVP race is heating up. All 3 players I have chosen have legitimate claims to numero uno, and Mike Trout is literally just a few good games away from making his case, too.
The AL Cy Young race is much more clear cut. 1-3 are pretty easy to slot. Max Scherzer (SP - DET) is probably the closest thing to an honorable mention in that race.
The NL MVP race is, if possible, even more of a dogfight that last time. Joey Votto's plummeting BABIP and contact numbers has resulted in a pretty significant offensive slump for him as of the last 2 weeks, opening the door for several other players. There are about 4-5 players who probably could make a case for the best.
The NL Cy Young is as overwhelmingly easy as it could possibly get for the top two. The NL's lack of dominant starting pitchers when compared to the AL makes number 3 a bit iffy. Clayton Kershaw has slipped a bit as of late, but it's hard to pick someone objectively better than him. The honorable mention in this category would go to *gulp* AJ Burnett.
As per last time, AL is up first:
1. Chris Davis (1B - BAL) (Stock trending up):
He's got it going right now, and has supplanted Miguel Cabrera in just about every useful offensive stat; wOBA, wRAA, WRC+, and WPA, while on any given day his WAR and Cabrera's flip-flop. Whatever Davis did in the offseason, don't give it to anyone else. Davis is having a monster surge in contact, power, walks, and everything you could ever want from a slugging first baseman. Some of his home run swings are looking ridiculously easy right now. Locked in.
2. Miguel Cabrera (3B - DET) (Stock trending down):
When I say down, I am mostly reflecting on the fact that Cabrera's once obscenely torrid pace has cooled off to merely a remarkably excellent pace. Woe is him. He is stuck pacing the lead in just about every offensive category with Davis, and expect this to be a dogfight. One thing to note; Cabrera's defense has gotten pretty haphazard lately. Whether it's bad breaks, fatigue, or just not having the glovework, all are potentially valid reasons.
3. Anibal Sanchez (SP- DET) (Stock trending up):
Since I last posted, Sanchez has come within two outs of a no-hitter, torched Tampa Bay, and, all-in-all, continued to execute an excellent 2013 season. He is the only pitcher in the AL right now who can give the typically positional-player hogged MVP a run for its money. He's first in all of baseball in xFIP, 3rd in tERA, 2nd in SIERA, and 1st in WAR among pitchers (his 3.4 WAR is. 0.1 behind Miguel Cabrera and a player to be named later for the highest among all players).
AL Cy Young
1. Anibal Sanchez (SP - DET) (Stock trending up):
And his BABIP is still a bit high at .325, and his K% is 3rd in all of baseball. He's likely going to get better in the short term.
2. Felix Hernandez (SP - SEA) (Stock trending neutral):
I fully expect that by seasons end, Felix's camping out on this list and my continual repetition of highlighting his stats will get old. The dude has been the epitome of consistency, with the only exception being late last year when he slipped a bit. So, instead of spending time mentioning how he is second in baseball in xFIP, third among pitchers in WAR, 4th in SIERA, and more, let's give a moment of silence to Felix for having to suffer an entire career under the awful management of the Seattle Mariners. Amen.
3. Yu Darvish (SP - TEX) (Stock trending neutral):
Yu Darvish continues a great campaign in 2013, and has settled into a comfort zone after a bit of inconsistency through May. He's 3rd in baseball in xFIP, 1st in SIERA, 9th among pitchers in WAR, and continues to blow away the competition with his strikeout rates and swings-and-misses.
1. Paul Goldschmidt (1B - ARI) (Stock trending neutral):
It's dartboard time again in the NL. Joey Votto's BABIP has dropped .033 since I last posted, which has caused his offensive numbers to slip, and allow everyone else to move up a bit. Goldschmidt wins this edition for not slipping up and continuing to excel in an all around game of great offense, good baserunning, and good defense. 3rd in baseball in wOBA, 3rd in wRAA, 3rd in WRC+, and 8th in WAR. Paul right now has the ever glorious award of "The Best Player Nobody Has Ever Heard of and Nobody is Covering"
2. Carlos Gomez (OF - MIL) (Stock trending up):
He may have the best all-around game of any NL MVP candidate so far, a combination of hitting, good power, good speed, and good fielding. This is reflected in the fact that while some of his pure offensive stats are a bit lower than other NL candidates, overall stats like WAR are right at the top of the entire MLB.
3. Adam Wainwright (SP - STL) (Stock trending up):
Much like the aforementioned Anibal Sanchez, Wainwright's overwhelmingly great stats put him on the radar for best player in the league. This is the player to be named later. His 3.5 WAR is tied with Miguel Cabrera for MLB's best. He is also 4th in baseball in xFIP, and 5th in SIERA. And that absurd .75 BB/9? It's actually dropped. To 0.61.
NL Cy Young:
1. Adam Wainwright (SP - STL) (Stock trending up):
Woah, what a shocker! Did I also mention his BABIP is .328? Much like Sanchez, he might get even better in the short term.
2. Matt Harvey (SP - NYM) (Stock trending neutral):
For those waiting for the rookie to slip up, seems like you're going to have quite the wait on your hands. Harvey continues to demonstrate control and skill usually reserved for people who at least have a few years under their sleeve. Essentially, every single stat of his, including xFIP, WAR, and SIERA, is second best in the NL to Wainwright. He's every bit as a clear the 2nd best in the NL right now as Wainwright is the first.
3. Clayton Kershaw (SP - LAD) (Stock trending down):
Clayton has been slowly going through a bit of a funk by his excellent standards. While nothing about his last two starts was egregiously bad, he did let a couple teams string together some baserunners and scoring on him. It's perhaps scarier on my part that I almost gave this spot to AJ Burnett. Clayton is buoyed by good WAR and WPA numbers, but some of the pure pitching stats like xFIP and SIERA are floating around the upper teens and twenties in terms of MLB ranking. If he was in the AL, he probably wouldn't even crack the top 7-8 pitchers or so.