NEW YORK (AP) — As the season's second half gets set to begin Friday, an early forecast for baseball's biggest individual awards:
AL MVP — Hard to imagine anyone gaining enough ground to challenge Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera and Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis in what appears to be a two-man race. Look for Davis to drop off a bit while Cabrera keeps up his astounding pace and wins his second consecutive MVP. No Triple Crown this time, though, as Davis hangs on for the home run title.
NL MVP — A wide-open scramble at the All-Star break, it comes down to Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Goldschmidt has the power numbers, but it might be difficult for the Diamondbacks to hold off the surging Dodgers in the NL West. After two decades of losing, the Pirates have staying power this time. McCutchen, an all-around dynamo who started their turnaround, gets rewarded for a clutch stretch drive when Pittsburgh makes the playoffs for the first time since 1992.
AL CY YOUNG — Max Scherzer went 13-1 for Detroit in the first half to earn the All-Star start. Felix Hernandez is coming on strong in Seattle, however, and the 2010 winner takes home another prize.
NL CY YOUNG — Second-year sensation Matt Harvey of the New York Mets got the early attention and started the All-Star game at home. Clayton Kershaw was even better in the first half, though. Kershaw should get more run support from Yasiel Puig and an improved Los Angeles lineup the rest of the way en route to his second Cy Young in three years.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR — Nobody has really emerged yet. Tampa Bay has a pair of promising candidates who just got started in outfielder Wil Myers and pitcher Chris Archer. There's also Boston infielder Jose Iglesias, Seattle second baseman Nick Franklin and Oakland pitcher Dan Straily. Look for Myers to bloom in the second half.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR — The deep pitching class includes 20-year-old All-Star Jose Fernandez from Miami, Shelby Miller in St. Louis, Hyun-Jin Ryu of Los Angeles and Julio Teheran with Atlanta. But if Puig's first six weeks in the majors are any indication, his electrifying talent will win him this award as the Dodgers take off toward a division title.