First Quarter Report: 2013 MLB Award Races

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First Quarter: 2013 MLB Award Races

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The first quarter of the season is just about wrapped up, and there are many first quarter awards to hand out. It's always fun to speculate who would win each award if the season ended right now.

Last year's MVPs featured Buster Posey of the World Series champ San Francisco Giants and Fall Classic participant Detroit Tigers's Miguel Cabrera. These two players could very well win the award again for their respective leagues but Cabrera is in a much better position, second in the league in batting average and first in RBI.

Each of these players is also on a division-leading team and should be favorites to make the World Series once again.

The other award races are heating up as well, such as Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Reliever of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year awards.

The usual Cy Young candidates from the American League such as Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez are having solid seasons thus far, but I don't see either of them winning the coveted award right now. As for the National League Cy Young, Stephen Strasburg and Adam Wainwright may have been favorites to start the season, but in my opinion, another familiar name would win the award if the season ended today.

We have all season long to speculate who will win each award, but for now it's my turn to predict who has won each award through 40 games.

Here are my award races one quarter of the way through the season.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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AL Comeback Player of the Year: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays are sitting at 20-20 in possibly the toughest division in baseball. Each team in the AL East could easily win the division, but the Rays are hoping this is their year. Evan Longoria is going to help them every step of the way, coming back from an injury-riddled 2012 season. He is one of the league's top hitters, batting .327 with nine home runs and 27 RBIs.

His average is up about 40 points from last year, and he has already played in more than half of the games he appeared in last season. Oh, and he already has more than half of the home runs he had from a season ago. Longoria is back and better than ever.

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NL Comeback Player of the Year: Carl Crawford, Los Angeles Dodgers

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Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Carl Crawford was once one of the best leadoff men in the league just three short seasons ago. He could hit around .300 and had some pop in his bat as well, hitting around 15 home runs a year during his solid years from 2005-2011. He has, however, dropped off a bit in recent years.

The 2013 season has been good to Crawford, though. His .311 average is the highest he has ever had, and his five home runs put him on pace to finish with a career-high 20. If he keeps this pace, he will have his best season as a professional.

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AL Reliever of the Year: Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees

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Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

One of professional sports' aging wonders would be Mariano Rivera. After a devastating knee injury that caused the 43-year-old to miss the entire 2012 season, Rivera looked as if his career would end on a sour note. A 1.56 ERA and 16 saves later, and Rivera may want to reconsider his retirement decision at the end of the 2013 season.

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NL Reliever of the Year: Jason Grilli, Pittsburgh Pirates

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Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

After a rough start to his career from 2000-08, Jason Grilli looked like he was on the fast-track to early retirement. He was picked up by the Colorado Rockies in 2008 and had just a 2.93 ERA in 51 appearances.

After one more rough season in 2009 with the Rockies and Texas Rangers, he was picked up by the Pittsburgh Pirates and given a fresh start. He had a 2.48 ERA in 2011 and a 2.91 ERA in 2012. He has quickly become one of the league's best closers, accumulating 16 so far this season. At the age of 36, I bet he's hoping he would have played this way his entire career.

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AL Rookie of the Year: Conor Gillaspie, Chicago White Sox

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The rookie of the year award gives a little insight to what the future of baseball will look like and who the possible stars will be five years from now. Conor Gillaspie from the Chicago White Sox may just be one of those guys.

With a .294 average, three home runs and seven RBI, his numbers don't exactly knock your socks off, but he is consistent enough to make himself a solid everyday starter. The young third basemen is just 25 years old, but plays much older. With a bit more production in his numbers, he will easily win the AL Rookie of the Year award.

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NL Rookie of the Year: Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals

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Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The NL Rookie of the Year award was an easy choice. Starting pitcher Shelby Miller of the St. Louis Cardinals has started eight games this season and has a 5-2 record.

The 22-year-old has electric stuff and could be a contender for the Cy Young award as well. He has a 1.40 ERA and 57 strikeouts, leading the Cardinals to one of the league's best records. This guy is a star right now and a superstar in the making.

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AL Cy Young: Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox

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Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox are one of the biggest surprises in baseball, which just means they have players on their team that may be overachieving. Clay Buchholz has been arguably the team's best pitcher in 2013. He was leading the league in ERA for a little while, but now he is second in the league in wins, while owning a sixth-best 1.69 ERA. He is 6-0 and has been the best overall pitcher through 40 games.

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NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

This was another easy choice for me. Clayton Kershaw has won the Cy Young award in the National League before, but this year may end up being his best season ever.

Kershaw is 4-2 with an overly-impressive 1.40 ERA and 67 strikeouts. He is making NL batters look silly with his incredible stuff, and puts fear into the eyes of every hitter he faces. If he keeps this pace, he will likely have the best season of any pitcher in baseball in the past decade or more.

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AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in the world, in my opinion. The 30-year-old superstar has been the best hitter in the league for the past few seasons, and could easily be one of the best offseason pickups by any team in MLB history for the Detroit Tigers in 2007.

Cabrera achieved the very rare Triple Crown in 2012 and could do so once again in 2013 -- a feat that has never been done. Cabrera has a .366 average with eight home runs and 41 RBIs. Two of those three numbers are in the top three in the league. This is an easy choice for AL MVP.

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NL MVP: Paul GoldSchmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks

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Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Goldschmidt is in the top-20 in the league in batting average, and ranks seventh in home runs and ninth in RBI. This guy can do it all, and looks like the best hitter in the National League right now.

He has the Arizona Diamondbacks playing some of the best baseball in the league and with a .322 average and .410 on-base percentage, he is one of the best at getting on-base.

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