Blue Jays 2017 Award Watch: June

May 28, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Joe Biagini (31) throws a pitch in the first inning during a game against the Texas Rangers at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
May 28, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Joe Biagini (31) throws a pitch in the first inning during a game against the Texas Rangers at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /

The Blue Jays resurrected their season in May going 18-10.  The reason they got so much better in May was the improved performances of their players. While all of the Blue Jays are on a roll now, there are a few who are unstoppable and could get a few award votes at the end of the year.

The Jays have improved drastically since April, with every part of the team running smoothly. Everyone is doing well, but most of the players are good in only one area of the game. Guys like Ezequiel Carerra are hitting well, while Joe Smith is racking up the strikeouts. But some players are doing well in many areas, and those are the players that are going to get award votes.

Most Valuable Player:

Blue Jays contenders: Justin Smoak, Devon Travis, Kevin Pillar

Off the board from last month: None

Justin Smoak has had a career year, by hitting .282 with a team-leading 12 home runs, and 34 RBIs this season. Those totals have him sixth in home runs, seventh in RBIs, and 22nd in average. His OPS is sitting at .887, which is trending in the right direction. An MVP level OPS is around 1.100. While he may not get there, he could work his way up to a .950 mark, with improved averages. For WAR, Smoak can still improve.

His defence is struggling with a -0.4 dWAR mark, but his offence is doing great with a 1.2 oWAR already. If his defence improves, he should be able to bring his WAR up to around 3.0. While that may not have him deep into the MVP conversation, with a big couple of months, and better defence, he could work his way into the discussion.

Travis had a very slow April with one home run, and four RBIs. But in May, he turned into the player Toronto dreamed he would be, by hitting 4 home runs, 19 RBIs, and a .364 average. His home run total may be a bit low for an MVP contender, but he has been hitting the ball hard, as evidenced by his 16 doubles in May.

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Even with a low home run number, Travis could get into the MVP conversation. If he keeps up his average and RBI numbers, he would have two good offensive numbers, which could persuade some voters to give him some attention.

His defence, unlike Smoak, has actually been good, giving him 0.3 dWAR, which helped him to a 0.8 WAR. If Travis keeps up his May numbers, don’t be surprised if he works his way into the MVP conversation as a dark horse candidate. A’s we’ve already said here at Jays Journal, we shouldn’t have doubted Travis.

Kevin “Superman” Pillar has widely been regarded as the best player in Toronto this season. He has been the regular leadoff man and has given the Jays a chance, offensively and defensively, every game. He already has the same amount of home runs he had all of last season and is stealing more bases too. So far, he has a .271 average, seven home runs, and 13 RBIs. His RBI total may seem low for how well he’s been hitting, but that could be attributed to his leadoff position in most games. RBIs have become a statistic used less and less in MVP voting because it reflects more on the team than the player so that stat shouldn’t affect him too much.

With Pillar leading the Jays, he could end up with a few MVP votes, for how he’s helped steady the ship. If the Jays were to make the playoffs, a large amount of credit has to go to Pillar, which would also gain him a few votes.

Cy Young:

Blue Jays contenders: Marco Estrada, Joe Biagini

Off the board from last month: Marcus Stroman.

As per usual with Estrada during his time in Toronto, he’s been a great pitcher, to say the least. This season he came in as Toronto’s veteran pitcher, who could lead the team in the right direction. With ERA as one of his best attributes, he improved his strikeout total drastically, making it one of the best totals in the league.

He has 82 strikeouts this season, which leaves him at third overall in the AL. While strikeouts aren’t the only way to get batters out, it’s a stat that is no doubt looked at carefully for Cy Young voting and could be a factor in his candidacy. While his strikeout total is improving, his ERA is slipping a little bit. It’s currently at a 3.86 mark. While that’s respectable, it would need to improve for him to get serious consideration as a Cy Young favourite.

Some of you may not take me seriously when I add Biagini to this list, but if he gets more starts, and continues his pace, he could become one of the better starters in the AL. So far, through five starts, he has a 4.01 ERA with 20 strikeouts. If the Jays continue to start him and continue to stretch him out, he could end up with better numbers. Right now his ERA and strikeouts are the results of him pitching fewer innings than a usual starter. If he gets better innings and gets comfortable as a starter, he could get dangerous, and be a dark horse candidate.

Manager of the Year:

Blue Jays candidates: John Gibbons

Remember when, after a horrid first month of the season, many fans were calling for Gibby to get fired? Now he’s at the helm of one of the hottest teams in the entire MLB. Typically, the Manager of the Year goes to the skipper of the most surprising team or the team that overcame the most. If the Jays get back into respectability, Gibbons could be the manager of both of those teams. If the Jays can overcome all the injuries, and the horrible first month, Gibbons could be rewarded for it.

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Rookie of the Year:

Blue Jays candidates: None

So far, the Jays rookies haven’t done enough to warrant consideration for this.

Those are the award candidates for this month. What do you think?