C.C. Sabathia has the opportunity to become the Indians’ second-ever American League Cy Young Award winner and first since Hall-of-Famer Gaylord Perry won the coveted pitching honor in 1972.
The 26-year-old left-hander is not simply considered a candidate for the award, but a favorite along with Boston’s Josh Beckett, who won his 20th game Friday night.
Here’s a look at how the AL Cy Young race and the rest of the major league’s postseason awards might shape up. Statistics through Friday’s games …
American League Cy Young
The candidates: SP Sabathia, Indians (18-7, 3.19 ERA); SP Josh Beckett, Red Sox (20-6, 3.14); SP Justin Verlander, Tigers (17-6, 3.70); SP Chien-Mien Wang, Yankees (18-7, 3.72); SP Fausto Carmona, Indians (18-8, 3.03).
The winner: Beckett
The reason: Don’t hate me Tribe fans, but as the majors’ only 20-game winner, the nod has to go to Beckett, especially when he matches the win total with a sparkling ERA befitting of the status. Sabathia ranks in the top seven of more categories than any other AL starter, but can thank a month-long slump by his offense for failing to reach the 20-win plateau, which would have made him a lock.
National League Cy Young
The candidates: SP Jake Peavy, Padres (18-6, 2.39); SP Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks (16-10, 3.03); SP Brad Penny, Dodgers (16-4, 2.93); SP Aaron Harang, Reds (16-4, 3.61); SP John Smoltz, Braves (14-7, 2.97).
The winner: Peavy
The reason: San Diego’s ace owns the best record and the lowest ERA of any NL starter. If the Padres make the postseason, he should be a lock. Webb, who strung together a lengthy consecutive scoreless innings streak this year, has an outside shot, should San Diego falter down the stretch and Arizona wraps up the West.
American League Most Valuable Player
The candidates: 3B Alex Rodriguez, Yankees (.308, 52 HR, 143 RBIs); OF Magglio Ordonez, Tigers (.354, 27 HR, 132 RBIs); OF Vladimir Guerrero, Angels (.325, 26 HR, 122 RBIs); OF Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners (.353, 6 HR, 67 RBIs, 37 SB); DH David Ortiz, Red Sox (.322, 32 HR, 111 RBIs).
The winner: Rodriguez
The reason: This is a tight race between two horses — Rodriguez and Ordonez — that A-Rod wins on the strength of his power numbers, playing in New York and factoring mightily in the Yankees’ second-half resurgence. Though Ordonez’s Tigers won’t make the postseason, his numbers are too good too overlook.
National League Most Valuable Player
The candidates: OF Matt Holliday, Rockies (.318, 36 HR, 131 RBIs); 1B Prince Fielder, Brewers (.280, 47 HR, 112 RBIs); 1B Ryan Howard, Phillies (.265, 42 HR, 124 RBIs); 3B Miguel Cabrera, Marlins (.325, 33 HR, 111 RBIs); SS Hanley Ramirez, Marlins (.334, 28 HR, 78 RBIs, 50 SB, 117 runs).
The winner: Ramirez
The reason: If the Brewers make the playoffs, a case can be made for crowning Prince, but beyond that, only Howard’s numbers are worthy among players on potential playoff qualifiers. So scroll to the guy that’s done the most, and that’s Ramirez, who ranks in the top five in the league in eight offensive categories and doesn’t have the luxury of playing half his games at Coors Field like Holliday.
American League Rookie of the Year
The candidates: 2B Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (.318, 7 HR, 49 RBIs); SP Brian Bannister, Royals (12-9, 3.61 ERA, 26 starts); OF Delmon Young, Devil Rays (.292, 12 HR, 91 RBIs).
The winner: Pedroia
The reason: Young’s got better overall numbers, but throwing a bat at a minor league umpire last year will probably cost him some votes, plus Pedroia has provided a spark and stuck out in a big-named Boston lineup wrecked by injuries.
National League Rookie of the Year
The candidates: SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (.292, 22 HR, 90 RBIs); 3B Ryan Braun 3B, Brewers (.322, 31 HR, 85 RBIs); RP Peter Moylan, Braves (5-3, 1.77 ERA, 1 save, 74 games).
The winner: Braun
The reason: In a limited amount of at-bats, this kid has put up the most impressive offensive numbers of any first-year player in the majors, batting third for the playoff-contending Brewers for much of the year.
American League Manager of the Year
The candidates: Mike Scioscia, Angels (91-63, first place West Division); Eric Wedge, Indians (91-62, first place Central Division); Joe Torre, Yankees (88-65, second place East Division).
The winner: Wedge
The reason: He’s been in the running before but this is the year Wedgie wins the award. Cleveland’s payroll and the star power that accompanies it, is dwarfed by the rest of its potential postseason competitors, yet the Indians have played as well or better than all of them.
Torre’s on the list because he revived a lifeless Yankees team that nearly everyone was counting out and has them poised for another playoff appearance.
National League Manager of the Year
The candidates: Lou Piniella, Cubs (81-73, first place Central Division); Bob Melvin, Arizona Diamondbacks (87-67, first place West Division); Charlie Manuel, Phillies (84-70, second place East Division).
The winner: Piniella
The reason: If the Cubbies can hold off the Brewers, Sweet Lou will have turned turmoil into a title in his debut season in Chicago.
If they don’t, and the Phillies either chase down the Mets or qualify as the wild-card team, the award goes to Manuel, who has been on the hot seat since the day he took the job in Philly.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.