Four up for Mane Man of July honors
Voting under way to choose between Chapman, McCutchen, Trout, Zimmerman
Aroldis Chapman of the Reds, Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, Mike Trout of the Angels and Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals are your choices as voting is under way to select the July Mane Man of the Month presented by Head & Shoulders
Will a National League pitcher win it for the third consecutive month? Will Trout break through after being nominated in June? Will all the NL MVP Award talk equate to this award for McCutchen? The Nationals had the NL's best offense in July, so will their leader get this nod?
The Head & Shoulders Mane Man is being recognized by MLB.com as the star of each game this season. In addition to that daily selection of the top players, you have a say in deciding the monthly recipients of this fan award. Here is a look at your four candidates for July.
Chapman: The Reds finished the month as the hottest team in Major League Baseball, and one reason is the security of any ninth-inning lead. The left-hander entered this week 12-for-12 in July save conversions, gaining momentum from June. For the season, Chapman was averaging 16.88 strikeouts per nine innings and had gotten 36 of his past 49 outs with strikeouts. If that 16.88 ratio holds up, it will be the best in history.
"He doesn't just throw 100 mph," said D-backs third baseman Chris Johnson. "He throws 100 mph with movement."
McCutchen: Coming out of the All-Star Week in Kansas City, the NL MVP Award talk started to heat up and then it got louder and louder. Where would the Pirates be without their star center fielder? He entered the week batting .440 in July, raising his overall MLB-leading average to .371. His OPS was an off-the-charts 1.249, and he's won back-to-back NL Player of the Week honors.
"Those first five weeks, he was getting pitches to hit, but wasn't hitting them," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's not missing them now. He's playing the game the best he's ever played."
Trout: In this space last month, everything applied to the rookie bursting onto the scene. Then he kept it going. The outfielder set an Angels record and also broke the AL rookie mark by scoring in 15 consecutive games. He entered the week batting .386 in July, with 10 homers, 23 RBIs, a 1.259 OPS and the AL lead for average and stolen bases.
"Not only is Trout a great player, but this is a case where a kid is helping take the pressure off a big-name veteran like [Albert] Pujols, who obviously puts a lot of pressure on himself," Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog said. "That's a great thing."
Zimmerman: The third baseman was not only back in form, but maybe better than ever in July. He entered the week with a .366/.434/.752 slash line, leading the NL for the month in RBIs (24) and runs (26) and second in hits (37) and homers (10). Zimmerman became just the third Nationals player since 2005 to record double-digit homers in a single month, joining Alfonso Soriano (12 in May 2006 and 11 that August) and Adam Dunn (10 in May 2009).
In 31 games after receiving a cortisone shot in his right shoulder June 24, Zimmerman was batting .362 with a 1.158 on-base plus slugging percentage, 11 doubles, 12 homers and 33 RBIs.
"I was playing banged-up for a while there," he said. "And when you try to play through things, sometimes it doesn't allow you to do the things you've been doing and that leads to other things and other things. It's definitely a lot better when you show up to the park and you feel healthy every day."
The four nominees for the monthly honor are selected by an MLB.com editorial panel.
The last Mane Man of the Month winner was Giants right-hander Matt Cain, for a big June that included his perfect game. Cain edged out Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, Trout and Reds slugger Joey Votto in the fan vote to capture the award. It marked the second straight month an NL hurler has garnered the Mane Man of the Month Award after the Phillies' Cole Hamels earned May honors.
The overall program began with Seattle's Dustin Ackley getting the nod for the first game of the Japan Opening Series on March 28, and it will continue through the World Series clincher. Look back at daily videos to see the conga line of Mane Men so far, including each of these four monthly candidates.