Your midseason awards winners, according to WAR

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Here’s how WAR, both the Baseball-reference and Fangraphs versions, rates the top players as of the midway point of the season.

AL MVP (Baseball-Reference)

1. Manny Machado – 4.9
2. Miguel Cabrera – 4.9
3. Chris Sale – 4.4
4. Dustin Pedroia – 4.3
5. Chris Davis – 4.2

AL MVP (Fangraphs)

1. Miguel Cabrera – 5.4
2. Mike Trout – 4.7
3. Chris Davis – 4.6
4. Evan Longoria – 4.5
5. Manny Machado – 4.2

This is Cabrera’s award to lose, even though Davis has put quite the charge on. Both have 202 OPS+s at the moment, though Cabrera’s high OBP makes his line more valuable. B-ref has Machado matching Cabrera in WAR thanks to a huge defensive bonus; it rates him as the AL’s best defender by almost a full win over Dustin Pedroia. No one would deny that Machado is an excellent third baseman, but that’s probably excessive. Also, even though Machado is on a ridiculous doubles pace, he’s no Trout offensively. He’s probably been the AL’s fourth or fifth best player, which is still a massive accomplishment for a 20-year-old.

NL MVP (Baseball-Reference)

1. Carlos Gomez – 5.0
2. Clayton Kershaw – 4.8
3. Cliff Lee – 4.6
4. David Wright – 4.5
5. Matt Harvey – 4.5

NL MVP (Fangraphs)

1. Carlos Gomez – 4.5
2. Adam Wainwright – 4.3
3. David Wright – 4.2
3. Matt Harvey – 4.2
5. Matt Carpenter – 4.1

Both systems are in agreement that Gomez has been the NL’s best player so far. Still, I’m skeptical that he’d even crack the top 10 if the BBWAA held a vote. Obviously, much of his value is tied up in defense; B-ref says only Andrelton Simmons has been worth more with the glove in the NL. Plus, the Brewers have struggled all year. … If the vote were held today, I’m guessing we’d see Yadier Molina come in first and Paul Goldschmidt second. B-ref has Goldschmidt as the NL’s third best position player, while Fangraphs puts him 11th. Molina ranks 12th by B-ref and ninth by Fangraphs.

AL Cy Young (Baseball-reference)

1. Chris Sale – 4.4
2. Clay Buchholz – 4.0
3. Hisashi Iwakuma – 3.7

AL Cy Young (Fangraphs)

1. Derek Holland – 3.4
2. Max Scherzer – 3.4
3. Felix Hernandez – 3.3

Buchholz was the leader for Cy Young honors when he went down. Now it’s probably Scherzer, even though his 3.10 ERA doesn’t crack the top 10 in the league. The 12-0 record would help a bunch, as would the terrific strikeout rate. I figured Yu Darvish would fare better here than he does, but the home runs are hurting him. He’s fifth according to B-ref and sixth according to Fangraphs.

NL Cy Young (Baseball-reference)

1. Cliff Lee – 4.6
2. Matt Harvey – 4.5
3. Adam Wainwright – 4.4
4. Clayton Kershaw – 4.4

NL Cy Young (Fangraphs)

1. Adam Wainwright – 4.2
2. Matt Harvey – 4.2
3. Cliff Lee – 3.5

I’m guessing Wainwright would win the award if the season ended today, and both versions of WAR think he’s just as deserving as Harvey, even though Harvey has the edge in ERA (2.00 to 2.22) and strikeouts (132 to 114). … You may have noticed Kershaw comes in second on B-ref’s MVP list, but just tied for third here. That’s because I’m only using their pitching WAR for Cy Young.

AL Rookie of the Year (Baseball-reference)

1. Jose Iglesias – 2.3
2. David Lough – 1.7
3. Nick Franklin – 1.5

AL Rookie of the Year (Fangraphs)

1. Jose Iglesias – 1.4
2. David Lough – 1.2
3. Dan Straily – 1.1

B-ref rates Iglesias as an above average defender, while Fangraphs says below average. I’m firmly on B-ref’s side here. That said, it’s only a matter of time before he stops hitting and gets overtaken in the race.

NL Rookie of the Year (Baseball-reference)

1. Hyun-Jin Ryu – 2.5
2. Julio Teheran – 2.4
3. Shelby Miller – 2.3
3. Nolan Arenado – 2.3

NL Rookie of the Year (Fangraphs)

1. Shelby Miller – 2.2
2. Marcell Ozuna – 2.1
3. Evan Gattis – 1.8

Yasiel Puig is making a glorious charge here. B-ref had him at 2.1 and Fangraphs has him at 1.8 after a measly 26 games. Fangraphs, for what it’s worth, rates him as a bit of a liability both defensively and on the basepaths to date, no doubt because of his overaggressiveness.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.