With Beckett and Halladay Out of the Cy Young Running, Who’s Still In?

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With Beckett and Halladay Out of the Cy Young Running, Who's Still In? Two weeks ago, the race for the AL Cy Young was a two-man sprint between Josh Beckett and Roy Halladay.

Now, Kevin O'Connell has a better chance of suiting up for the Patriots in 2009 than either of them has of winning.

There is still an outside shot that Beckett can pull out a come-from-behind victory. If he wins four or five of his remaining six starts — and gives up one run or less each time — he could make a run for it. But his unabashed contempt for the politics surrounding the voting isn't going to win him any support (a couple of weeks ago, he told reporters he didn't plan on "kissing anybody's [butt]" just to get votes), and his sudden inability to keep the ball inside the park won't help him, either. In his last four starts, he has allowed 12 homers, including five bombs against New York on Aug. 23. At this point, though, Red Sox fans have forgotten about the Cy and are just hoping he won't end up on the disabled list sometime in the next week.

Halladay's case is more tragic. Throughout most of July, he was the shoo-in to win the award. Nobody else was even in his stratosphere. Then, around the time J.P. Ricciardi began mercilessly shopping him, he started sliding and he didn't stop. For a while, he was the victim of poor run support. Now, he just can't win, no matter what.

After beginning the year 10-1, Halladay has gone an astounding 3-10 since June 12, but in that span, his ERA is just 3.80. His last three starts essentially knocked him out of the race; he gave up four runs, seven runs and four runs against division rivals Boston and Tampa Bay. But during his losing streak, his team has scored more than three runs just three times.

Now, the race is wide open again. How times have changed.

Playoff Picture
AL East: New York Yankees (83-48)
AL Central: Detroit Tigers (69-61)
AL West: Los Angeles Angels (78-52)
AL Wild Card: Boston Red Sox (76-54)

Breakdown:
Boston extended its wild-card lead to the largest it has been in a while. The Red Sox now sit four games ahead of the Rangers, and while Tampa is still in the hunt, this week's upcoming three-game set against Boston becomes a make-or-break situation. If they get swept, their hopes of a second straight postseason are pretty much crushed.

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies (75-53)
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals (77-55)
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers (78-54)
NL Wild Card: Colorado Rockies (72-59), San Francisco Giants (72-59)

Breakdown:
What each NL division race lacks in excitement is made up for by the wild-card race. San Francisco swept the Rockies to pull into a tie this weekend, and after the Marlins and the Braves square off against each other for a four-game set this week, one of them can kiss their wild-card dreams goodbye. Both are 3 1/2 games behind the Giants and Rockies. Atlanta got things started off on the right foot with a 5-2 over Florida win on Monday.

MVP
American League: Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees
Now that Mark Teixeira has eclipsed the 100-RBI mark, it is time to accept the fact: More likely than not, he will win this award. Much like Dustin Pedroia began to separate himself from the competition toward the end of August and through September of 2008, Teixeira is doing the same now, as the Yanks pull away with the division. Right now, Tex is hitting .284 with 32 homers and 102 RBIs. This week, in six games against Texas and Chicago, he went 5-for-24 with one homer and eight RBIs. Without him, the Yanks would be nowhere near the offensive explosion they've been this year, especially given Alex Rodriguez's hip problems.

National League: Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins

Albert Pujols has been hogging headlines all season, but Hanley Ramirez may be the only guy in the league with any shot at giving him a run for his MVP money. He's hitting a league-best .359 with a .422 on-base percentage, a .562 slugging percentage, 19 homers and 85 RBIs. His 37 doubles are the most in the NL (Pablo Sandoval also has 37). This week, against the Mets and the Padres, Ramirez hit .318 with seven hits in 22 at-bats.

Cy Young
American League: Zach Greinke, Kansas City Royals

Every week, the AL Cy is anyone's game — this week, it happens to be Greinke's, who was the early favorite to win. His 190 1/3 innings pitched rank him near the top of the league — and considering the fact that in 2007, CC Sabathia's IP total was essentially the only reason he beat out Beckett, that could play an important role at the end of 2009. In 27 starts, Greinke is 13-8 with a 2.32 ERA, and this week, he threw eight innings of two-run ball against the Indians with 15 strikeouts before throwing a complete-game shutout against Seattle on Sunday.

National League: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
The game is still wide open, but Lincecum's big week — and San Francisco's dominant weekend against Colorado — puts him back on top in the running for the NL Cy. His 193 1/3 innings rank him first in the league, as do his 222 strikeouts, and his 2.33 ERA is second only to Chris Carpenter. His only start of the week was a big one: In Friday's series opener against the Rockies, he shut out Colorado over eight innings, allowing four hits and notching eight K's.

Rookie of the Year
American League: Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox

Since getting called up on June 4, he has been just about as good as can be expected. He's hitting a very respectable .271 with eight homers and 49 RBIs in 77 games. He struggled this week in seven games against Boston and New York — he batted .103 with one homer and four RBIs — but his overall concistency lands him in a two-man race with Toronto's Ricky Romero.

National League: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
McCutchen threw himself ahead of the running this week when he hit .385 in six games against Philadelphia and Milwaukee. He registered 10 hits in 26 at bats, including three homers and two doubles, and drove in seven runs. Overall, he's batting .293 with 10 homers and 43 RBIs in 75 games.

Weekly Wonders
American League: Chicago White Sox

One week ago, Ozzie Guillen's troops were still in the hunt for a playoff berth. Now, after seven games against the AL East's powerhouses, they aren't. The ChiSox went 1-6 against Boston and New York and scored 27 runs, batting .229 with 17 walks and 49 strikeouts. The pitching staff emerged from the week with a 6.25 ERA and 15 home runs, and the team is now six games behind the Central-leading Tigers.

National League: Edgar Renteria, San Francisco Giants

Here is yet another case of a player who failed with the Red Sox, jumped ship for the National League and is suddenly doing what Boston tried to pay for. Granted, this is Renteria's worst year since leaving Beantown in 2006, but his seventh-inning grand slam on Sunday propelled the Giants to a resounding series sweep over the Rockies, which tied them for the lead in the wild-card race. During his career in Boston, he registered one walkoff single — a very anticlimatic one, considering were men on first and third, one out, and David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were due up — and this is how excited he was.

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