The American League East race certainly has our attention.

But the secondary competitions, for American League individual honors, also can be considered in the too-close-to-call category.

Rick Porcello is the winningest pitcher, having notched his 20th victory Friday night.

Cy Young material?

Mookie Betts is among the leaders in most offensive categories.

A possible MVP?


Porcello (20-3) has the better odds of landing postseason honors. He may end up the only 20-game winner, although J.A. Happ of Toronto won his 18th on Saturday.

Three of the other top candidates – Corey Kluber of Cleveland (15-7), Chris Sale of Chicago (15-9) and Justin Verlander of Detroit (14-7) all pitch Sunday. They would all need quite a run to reach 20 wins.

Another contender is Orioles closer Zach Britton (40 saves, 0.65 ERA), but that’s an apples-and-orange pick. For the purposes of assessing Porcello’s chances, we will only consider starters.

Since 2000, five AL pitchers won the Cy Young Award without 20 wins, but in three of those years there were no 20-game winners.

In 2010, CC Sabathia won 21 games but Felix Hernandez (13-12) won the Cy Young, mainly based on his league-leading 2.27 ERA. Also, in the subjective sabermetric statistic WAR (Wins Above Replacement), which measures the total contribution of a player, Hernandez had a 7.4, far above the next-best (Clay Buchholz’s 5.6; Sabathia was at 4.6), according to

In 2007, Josh Beckett posted a 20-7 mark with a 3.27 ERA, with 194 strikeouts in 200 innings and a 6.5 WAR. Sabathia won the Cy Young. He was 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA and 209 strikeouts in 241 innings, and a 6.3 WAR.


Sabathia had a slightly better ERA and more innings. And while Sabathia had one less win, he had less run support than Beckett (5.6 runs a game to 6.6 for Beckett).

If run support plays a factor in the 2016 voting, it may hurt Porcello. He has the best support in the league (8.0 runs a game). Happ enjoys 6.9 runs.

Kluber receives only 5.5 runs, Sale 5.0 and Verlander 4.4.

In terms of ERA, the contenders are all in the low 3’s – Sale leading at 3.07 (Porcello has 3.21). In terms of walks-hits allowed per inning (WHIP), the contenders are all in the close to 1.0 except Happ (1.18).

Verlander leads the group in strikeouts (209), followed by Kluber (198), Sale (193), then Porcello (161) and Happ (149).

If WAR becomes a factor in the voting, Kluber (5.9) leads AL pitchers, according to Sale and Verlander are at 5.0, Porcello 4.5 and Happ 3.6.


The numbers can be numbing. Everyone leads a category. But if Porcello keeps winning games – reaching 23 or 24 – and no one else gets 20, he may have a case.

In the MVP voting, Betts is second in WAR (8.1), but Mike Trout of the Angels is at 9.3. Other contenders for the title are Jose Altuve of Houston (7.0), and Josh Donaldson (6.9) of Toronto.

In OPS (on-base percentage, plus slugging average), Trout (1.011) leads, followed by Donaldson (.962), Altuve (.945) and Betts (.907).

Trout seems the leading contender, except the Angels are struggling.

Looking for power and production? Donaldson has 34 home runs and 92 RBI, Betts 30 homers and 101 RBI. Altuve leads in batting average (.339).

Trout seems the favorite, but the final weeks may put Donaldson or Betts on top.


If Porcello and Betts could both win, it would be historical. Only 19 previous major league teams have featured separate players winning the Cy Young and MVP. It last happened in 2013 when Miguel Cabrera and Max Scherzer of Detroit won.

It has happened once in Boston, in 1967, when Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Lonborg electrified the crowds at Fenway Park. Yastrzemski had a 1.040 OPS while Lonborg was 22-9 with a 3.16 ERA.

And just a reminder, as we dwell on individual awards, the 1967 season ended with a World Series appearance for the Red Sox. Rick Porcello and Mookie Betts are enjoying career-best seasons in 2016. There are three weeks left in the season, a chance for them to boost their numbers and push Boston in the postseason.


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