Strictly a 2-horse race between PITT's Cuddyer and Salem's Escuela. Cuddyer had a truly impressive offensive season - his RC/27 was almost 40% better than that of the #2 player in that category (Leonardo Hardy), and he lead the league in average and OBP by a mile (and slugging percentage by a little). But Escuela was no slouch on offense, either - lead in HR's and RBI's. Three other factors argue for Escuela: 1. He played 21 more games than Cuddyer, so even though Gene got on base at a far greater rate, Escuela scored 34 more runs; 2. Defense - Escuela played a far more demanding position (and played it well - 15+ plays and a very good .974 fielding %); 3. Baserunning - Escuela undoubtedly created a few runs with his speed and tossed in 28 steals for good measure.
Escuela SHOULD win and WILL, although I think Cuddyer might pick up as many as 10 votes.
AL CY YOUNG
Great race, with probably 4 of the contenders (all but James) able to make a case. I've never been a big fan of wins or ERA as an indicator of how well someone pitched; in this case they're all pretty close on those stats anyway. WHIP is a little better and gives a clue: Valdes' WHIP was quite a bit better than all the others'. Dig a little deeper and you find that Valdes had the best OBP Against and best Slugging % Against (Burnett and Wanatabe were very close on slugging).
Valdes SHOULD win; I have a feeling Cerda WILL win in a close vote.
Not a great year for the AL rookies. Rivera lead the group in average, OPS, RBI. While Prior pitched well, he only got in 37+ innings. Rivera SHOULD win and WILL with a pretty hefty vote total.
I know the Necromancers missed the playoffs (could be awhile before that happens again, but that's another post), but Ellie Roenicke's season was so good, the other candidates are hardly worth mentioning. His 64 homers were the 6th most ever, the 3rd most in the last12 seasons, and the best of the last 5 years. It's hard to look up, but I believe his 161 RBI were the best in the modern era since Rivera's 167 in Season 13. Roenicke SHOULD win and WILL, with the highest vote total of any award winner.
NL CY YOUNG
This is a hard one. Two relievers in the mix, and they actually pitched better than the 3 starters (by OPS against). But they're relievers and have their own award, and neither one threw many innings, even for closers. Neither should win, and I don't think either will. We've actually had 2 relievers win CY's since Season 10: Season 13, when Geoff Sosa had a ridiculous 1.17 ERA and an even crazier .430 OPS against; and Season 15, when Clyde Jackson threw 211 innings in relief (and won 28 games). Lawson and Telford both had nice seasons, but nothing like those.
Of the 3 starters, DeJesus had the best OBP and Slugging % against, although Merrit was fairly close. Friend was the 3rd-best pitcher of these 3 - the 32 longballs produced a .411 Slugging-against.
There's probably an some kind of argument for all 3. DeJesus SHOULD win; I think Friend WILL win based on the 21 wins.
In many ways, the most interesting race this year.
Matos is really the only one with no case. The only reason he's on the ballot is the 30 saves - the most totally meaningless stat in any sport. He'll have some good seasons in the future, but he got hit pretty hard as a rookie.
Chantres and Moya are a pretty easy comparison because they both pitched 132 innings. Moya was pretty good...ballot-worthy for sure. But Chantres was truly dominant.
That leaves the 2 hitters. Day had the better offensive numbers, and gets some bonus for versatility - played 4 positions and filled in at DH for 3 games to boot. CF Chong held down the tougher defensive assignment - with 8 assists and 10 "+" plays (along with 8 errors), he wasn't GG caliber but certainly got the job done. Throw in 29 bombs and you have a pretty compelling story.
It's a tough call. I'll say Chantres SHOULD win because his performance was the most dominant. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if either Day or Chong took it (and it wouldn't bother me - Chantres only appeared in 18 games). I'll guess that Day wins it in a very close vote.