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Stark lists Rangers up for AL awards

9/2/2010

MINNEAPOLIS -- With a month left in the season, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark looks at how he sees the major awards shaping up. Click here for the entire story. But here are a few items from it with Stark's comments:

AL MVP: Josh Hamilton

If Hamilton keeps pounding at his current rate, he has an excellent shot at hitting .360 with 40 homers and 50 doubles. And you know how many men in American League history have had a season like that? How about one -- Lou Gehrig, in 1927.

Maybe Hamilton's knee issues will screw up that quest and reopen the MVP discussion. But he's clearly put himself in position to become the sixth No. 1 overall pick in history to collect an MVP trophy. (The others: Joe Mauer, Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey Jr. and Jeff Burroughs.)

AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez (Stark says that while Sabathia has more wins, Hernandez has the better numbers)

But remember, this is a performance award, period. And King Felix leads the league in every meaningful sabermetric pitching stat on Earth except adjusted ERA+ (where Buchholz is No. 1 -- and Sabathia ranks ninth).

Even if you compare more traditional numbers, though, Hernandez has an ERA that's three-quarters of a run lower than Sabathia's, an opponent OPS that's 74 points lower, more innings pitched, a better strikeout rate and a better WHIP.

So if you truly analyze the big picture, Clay Buchholz (your ERA leader) and C.J. Wilson (whose team is 15-2 in his past 17 starts) should rank ahead of Sabathia in this race. But are voters really ready to ignore that win column completely? We'll find out. Won't we?

AL Rookie of the Year: Austin Jackson

Neftali Feliz and Daniel Bard have been fabulous in critical bullpen gigs for the Rangers and Red Sox. But Austin Jackson has had the most impact on his team of any rookie in his league during the season's first five months.

If he just keeps doing what he's been doing, he'll hit .300, get 190 hits, score 100 runs and steal 25 bases. And the only other rookie who has done all that in the official rookie era is Ichiro Suzuki. But of course, Ichiro had actually been doing that stuff for years on the other side of the Pacific. Jackson is doing it at age 23 in his first year in a new organization (Detroit).

"Plus, he's played an unbelievable center field," one scout said. "And unlike the pitchers, it's been everyday production -- and he's maintained it."