AL, NL MVP and Cy Young Races Heating Up As Playoff Chases Come Down to Wire

AL, NL MVP and Cy Young Races Heating Up As Playoff Chases Come Down to WireMajor League Baseball hitters winning the Triple Crown used to happen on a somewhat regular basis. There was at least one Triple Crown winner each decade from the 1920s-60s.

Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski was the last player to win the Triple Crown, finishing with a .326 average, 44 home runs and 121 RBIs in 1967.

Baltimore's Frank Robinson won the AL Triple Crown in 1966 and Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby and Jimmie Foxx all won it twice. In 1933, both leagues had a Triple Crown winner. Foxx won it while playing for the Philadelphia Athletics of the AL, and Chuck Klein of the Philadelphia Phillies won for the NL.

Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera is making a bid to be the 14th member of this exclusive club. Bovada lists Cabrera as a -135 favorite to accomplish the feat.

Cabrera entered play Monday leading the American League in both hitting and RBIs by a fairly comfortable margin. He was tied with Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton for the AL and major-league lead with 42 home runs. Hamilton had missed the past five games with a sinus problem but returned on Monday.

Starting Tuesday, both the Rangers and Tigers have nine games remaining in the regular season. Detroit is in a dog fight for the AL Central title and thus Cabrera will play every game barring injury. Hamilton could be rested once the Rangers clinch the AL West and possibly the top seed in the American League playoffs.

At the All-Star Break, Angels rookie outfielder Mike Trout was the Bovada favorite to be the American League MVP, but now Cabrera is the -150 favorite, with Trout at +120. Trout is attempting to be just the third player to win Rookie of the Year — he's a lock for that — and MVP in the same season, joining former Mariner Ichiro Suzuki (2001) and former Red Sox great Fred Lynn (1975). Trout will finish behind Cabrera in all three Triple Crown categories — it’s possible Trout could catch Cabrera in batting — but leads the AL in runs and steals and is a Gold Glove candidate.

The National League favorite for MVP is Giants catcher Buster Posey at +125. No catcher was won the MVP award in the Senior Circuit since Reds Hall of Famer Johnny Bench 30 years ago. Posey wasn't an MVP betting option at the All-Star Break but has carried the San Francisco offense in the second half. Posey is hitting .383 with 13 homers and 55 RBIs since the break.

Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen was the MVP favorite at the break, but is now the +200 second favorite, as the Pirates have collapsed to fall out of the playoff race. The other MVP options are Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun (+250) and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (+1000). Braun is the reigning NL MVP and is hitting .318 with 40 home runs and 108 RBIs. His bat is leading the Brewers on a late charge for the NL's second wild card.

The Cy Young races in both leagues also are coming down to the wire. The current AL Bovada favorite at even money is Rays lefty David Price (18-5, 2.58), who starts Tuesday’s game at Fenway Park.  Angels ace Jered Weaver (19-4, 2.74) was the favorite at the break and is now the +110 second favorite. Weaver beat the White Sox on Sunday and should have two more starts to reach 20 wins. The other betting options are reigning AL Cy Young and MVP Justin Verlander (+300) of Detroit and Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney (+500).

In the National League, it's a three-man race between the Mets' R.A. Dickey (-125), Washington's Gio Gonzalez (+125) and Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel (+500). Dickey (19-6, 2.66) is a knuckleballer and no pitcher of that kind has won a Cy Young award. He will also attempt to become the first Mets pitcher since 1990 to record 20 wins when he faces Pittsburgh on Thursday. If he doesn't pick up the win on Thursday, he will get one more chance in the final series of the year in Miami. The Nats' Gonzalez (20-8, 2.84) is the only 20-game winner in the majors so far.