The Toronto Blue Jays have several legitimate contenders for all the major individual awards this season. With just under 50 games left, there’s still much to be decided. However, it’s not too early to start thinking about who could be coming away with some hardware come November.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Vladdy’s case for Most Valuable Player is a clear and obvious one. He leads MLB in OPS (1.024), RBI (88), total bases (255), and tied for the lead in runs with 87. He’s also second in the majors in homers (35) third among position players in WAR (4.9). Despite a recent slump, his .311 average is fourth in the American League.
Aug. 8, 1987: George Bell hits 35th homer in team’s 110th game, MVP-winning season.— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) August 8, 2021
Aug 8, 2021: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hits 35th homer in team’s 110th game… 👀 pic.twitter.com/xVR8SEEnb6
The narrative seems to be that despite Guerrero Jr.’s heroics, Shohei Ohtani is still the frontrunner for MVP. That may be. Ohtani has really put it all together and his incredible value as both a hitter and pitcher is undeniable. I think it’s safe to say at the very least that Vladdy is on track to be a finalist.
As compelling a case as Guerrero Jr. has, Semien, is right there with him. He leads baseball in doubles (33), and position player WAR (5.4). He’s third in total bases (238) and runs (83) and has 26 homers, seventh-best. Semien also swiped 11 bases and has been rock solid at second base. He’s got a great chance at his first Gold Glove.
While he may not be a finalist, it’s reasonable to think that Semien will finish top-5 in MVP voting.
While he’s not quite on the same level, Bo Bichette has had a wonderful season in his own right. He’s tied with Guerrero Jr. for the league-lead in runs and is fourth in hits with 130. Bichette is tied for 8th in RBI (77) and is 12th in total bases (211). He’s hit 20 homers and has 17 steals without being caught.
He has experienced some growing pains and his 20 errors will prevent him from being too high on the ballot. Expect to see Bo somewhere in the top-10.
If you’re a hitter you need to watch this whole video. Bo Bichette put up an unreal AB here 🔥 pic.twitter.com/GsOUKhByQS— Baseball (@mlbelites_) August 6, 2021
It speaks to the depth of the offense that Teoscar Hernández is the fourth player mentioned. He’s hitting .305 with 18 HR and 77 RBI. His solid, if unspectacular performance should land him in the MVP top-15.
Ray has been the anchor for a staff that has been up-and-down this season. He’s in the top 5 in AL in ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, and opponents’ batting average. He’s tied for the lead in pitcher WAR (4.4, with Lance Lynn) is third in K/9IP (10.98), and fourth in K/BB ratio (4.54).
Robbie Ray spoke about reaching the milestone of 1200 career Ks during today’s game: pic.twitter.com/ClqPTfmA47— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) August 7, 2021
So who’s his main competition? It would have to be Lynn, Gerrit Cole, and Chris Bassitt. Ohtani has an outside chance, but he hasn’t pitched enough innings in my opinion. Ray’s got a real shot. If he finishes strong, he’ll join Roger Clemens, Pat Hengen, and the late, great Roy Halladay in Blue Jays lore.
Rookie of the Year
What Alek Manoah has been able to accomplish since his call-up in late May is truly special. He gave up four or fewer hits in each of his first 10 starts, an MLB record. He also established team records with 60 K’s and a .180 opponents average over his first 10 starts. How did he follow that up? With a career-high 11 punchouts in his eleventh start Wednesday night.
Other contenders for the award include Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena, Tigers outfielder Akil Baddoo and Orioles 1B/OF Ryan Mountcastle. Manoah has only pitched 59 innings this far so that could hurt his chances. If he keeps doing what he’s been doing, Manoah should be a finalist.
It may not be a real award but, with his brilliant play recently Geroge Springer may hold a unique title by season’s end. The best player in the season’s second half. He’s won AL Player of the Week two weeks in a row, the first time a Jays’ player has achieved that. If he keeps it up and the rest of the team keeps rolling he could add a trophy he’s already won, World Series MVP.
Two homers tonight and George Springer’s hot August rages on. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/CjvlDadrq5— MLB (@MLB) August 12, 2021