Posted: Thursday September 13, 2012 1:01PM ; Updated: Thursday September 13, 2012 1:01PM
Cliff Corcoran

Lightning round (cont.)

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Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander won't win the MVP award again but he has a good chance at defending his Cy Young award from 2011.

American League

1. Justin Verlander, RHP, Tigers (1)

Season Stats: 13-8, 2.91 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 9.1 K/9 (212 K), 3.93 K/BB, 7.3 IP/GS, 6 CG, 1 SHO, 144 ERA+

2. Felix Hernandez, RHP, Mariners (2)

Season Stats: 13-7, 2.67 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 8.4 K/9 (195 K), 3.98 K/BB, 7.2 IP/GS, 5 SHO, 140 ERA+

3. Chris Sale, LHP, White Sox (N/A)

Season Stats: 16-6, 2.88 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 8.9 K/9 (168 K), 3.82 K/BB, 6.8 IP/GS, 1 CG, 151 ERA+

With Verlander and Hernandez both turning in disaster starts in the last week and David Price not pitching at all due to a minor shoulder injury, not much has changed in this race. That means that league wins- and ERA-leader Price (17-5, 2.54) is still the favorite to actually win the award, but I had him in third place last week due to Verlander and Hernandez's clear superiority in innings (Verlander has thrown 30 more innings than Price and starts again Thursday night), edge in most peripherals and what was effectively a three-way tie in adjusted ERA (ERA+). Price's inactivity has allowed Sale, who held the Royals to a run over six innings while striking out six in his lone start of the past week, to slip by into third place, at least for the time being.

Things may not remain the same for long, however, as Sale and Verlander face off in Chicago Thursday night with the Central division lead on the line, and Price is scheduled to return to action against the Yankees on Friday.

Out of the Top 3: David Price (3)

Rookie of the Year

National League

1. Wade Miley, LHP, Diamondbacks (1)

Season Stats: 15-9, 3.07 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 3.73 K/BB, 6.5 IP/GS, 139 ERA+

Miley's only start in the last week was a dud, but his lead in this race is large enough that it didn't matter.

2. Mike Fiers, RHP, Brewers (3)

Season Stats: 9-7, 3.05 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, 3.70 K/BB, 6.0 IP/GS, 135 ERA+

Just two of Fiers last six starts were quality, but he has still gone 3-1 with a 3.63 ERA over his last four, beating the Cardinals with five solid innings his last time out. There are other NL rookies who have turned in solid performances over a greater portion of the 2012 season than Fiers, who has thrown 109 1/3 innings over 18 starts and one relief outing, or who have excelled in one specific area or another, but other than Miley, none have been above average as far across the board as Fiers.

3. Todd Frazier, UT, Reds (2)

Season Stats: .283/.344/.516, 18 HR, 62 RBI

When Joey Votto came off the disabled list last week, Scott Rolen went down with a minor back injury, so Frazier started at third base in Votto's first five games back in the lineup, but Rolen returned to action on Tuesday and Frazier hasn't started either of the Reds games since. We still don't know exactly how Dusty Baker is going to distribute playing time over the season's final 18 games, but it doesn't look like Frazier, who still doesn't qualify for the batting title, will have enough opportunity left to catch Miley in this race, particularly given that he hasn't homered in his last 18 games and has hit .193//.270/.263 in his last 15.

American League

1. Mike Trout, CF, Angels (1)

Season Stats: .331/.396/.569, 27 HR, 77 RBI, 114 R, 45 SB

There's a burgeoning backlash against the idea of Trout winning the MVP, but I'm not sure there's a creature alive that is willing to argue that he won't be the deserving and unanimous Rookie of the Year.

2. Yoenis Cespedes, LF, A's (2)

Season Stats: .287/.343/.483, 18 HR, 68 RBI, 16 SB

Cespedes entered September with his average above .300 and his slugging percentage above .500 but he has hit just .174/.188/.326 on the month. Still, he has almost as firm a lock on second place in this race as Trout has on first, and he did homer in each of the A's last two wins over Trout's Angels.

3. Scott Diamond, LHP, Twins (3)

Season Stats: 11-7, 3.46 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 4.8 K/9, 3.04 K/BB, 6.4 IP/GS, 118 ERA+

Diamond has posted a 6.64 ERA over his last four starts, a span which saw him throw at Josh Hamilton's head earning an ejection and a suspension. Meanwhile, Yu Darvish has gone 3-1 with a 2.52 ERA over his last five starts, all quality, while striking out 42 men in 35 2/3 innings. Darvish, who had a 7.76 ERA in the five starts prior to that and owns a 109 ERA+, 1.33 WHIP, and 2.31 K/BB, hasn't caught Diamond yet, but if the current trends continue, he will by the time the votes are cast.

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