Sure, it’s only one game (Mariners 3-1 over the A’s in 11 in Tokyo), but a few players already have set themselves apart from the competition, establishing themselves are early front-runners for the American League MVP and Cy Young awards. Here’s a look at the candidates and their credentials.
1. Dustin Ackley is slugging 1.000 and on pace for 162 homers, the same number of stolen bases, 324 RBI, and an equal number of runs scored. Naturally, all of those would be major league records. He had the game-winning RBI in Wednesday’s contest, too, so he has the clutchiness factor working for him.
2. Ackley’s 324-hit pace would shatter the current record. However, Ichiro Suzuki is looking to protect his status as the record holder in that category by getting off on a 648-hit pace, nearly 400 base knocks over the current record of 262 safties. Also, Ichiro’s .800 batting average would make Ted Williams‘ .406 mark look pathetic in comparison.
3. A distant third, Cliff Pennington is batting .400 with a stolen base. Hey, someone has to get those third-place votes.
If you prefer to put one of the pitchers below in the MVP discussion, that’s completely understandable. For now, I’m keeping the hitters and hurlers separate.
AL Cy Young
1. He didn’t get the Opening Day win, but a low win total didn’t stop Felix Hernandez from bringing home the hardware a couple of seasons ago. His eight-inning, six-strikeout, one-run, five-hit, no-walk performance enabled the Mariners to stay in the game long enough for Ackley to execute his heroics. And Hernandez’s 1.13 ERA would be just off Bob Gibson‘s 1968 record of 1.12.
2. Brandon McCarthy did his best to keep pace with King Felix, but he managed to twirl only seven innings of six-hit, one-run ball. He also didn’t walk anyone (nor did any other pitcher on either staff), but his mere three punchouts hint at a lack of dominance that could weaken his case as the season progresses.
3. Brandon League preserved the M’s win, throwing a shutout frame in the 11th inning, whiffing two batters while allowing one hit. Sure, saves are overrated, but League’s peripheral numbers show he’s more than just an accumulator.