© 2011 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

08/11/11 2:21 PM ET

Gonzalez, Reyes are MVP performers

A month ago Toronto's Jose Bautista was on a fast track to win the American League MVP Award. Now, runner-up is the best he can hope for. And that might be a stretch.

Take nothing away from Bautista, but the Red Sox are leading the toughest division in the Major Leagues and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is a huge reason why.

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein obviously knew what he was doing in December when he shipped three prospects to San Diego for Gonzalez, then worked out a seven-year $154 million contract.

Gonzalez was one of baseball's best-kept secrets during his days with the Padres, but that has changed since he arrived at Fenway Park. When November comes and the MVP is announced, even more people will know about him.

He should easily win the award. He leads the Major Leagues in batting average (.348), RBIs (92) and hits (163).

Bautista has 33 homers, but his average has slipped to .312 and his 76 RBIs are not among the top five in the AL.

I believe the Yankees' Curtis Granderson, Adrian Beltre of the Rangers and Detroit's Miguel Cabrera will get strong consideration, but this year the MVP will be Adrian Gonzalez.

"People heard about him in San Diego, but you just didn't see him," says Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, a Red Sox broadcaster. "Now that people are seeing him, it's like, 'Wow. Where did this guy come from?' "

Zeroing on the AL MVP is much easier than in the NL.

There's always a debate among Baseball Writers Association of America voters as to whether the MVP should be from a winning team -- a team that makes the postseason. Many voters feel strongly that a player on a losing team, no matter how great his season, should not be MVP.

If that edict holds, the NL MVP might be Milwaukee's Ryan Braun. The Brewers have been one of the hottest teams in the NL lately and seem poised for a NL Central championship.

Braun (through Wednesday) is second to the Mets' Jose Reyes (.336) in batting average, hitting .331. He's third in runs scored with 76.

Really, though, Braun isn't having a season equal to Reyes and the Dodgers' Matt Kemp, both playing on teams no longer in playoff contention.

Throw the "winning team" belief out the window and give the MVP to Reyes. Even though the Mets are .500, he's one of the few bright spots during this season. I agree he's been hurt a lot, but despite that his .336 average is tops in the NL. Ditto his 80 runs scored and he's second to the Braves' Michael Bourn in stolen bases with 34.

You can make a strong case for Kemp. He ranks third in the NL in batting average (.320), home runs (26), stolen bases (30), and RBIs (85).

My other choices for major awards:

AL CY YOUNG: Detroit's Justin Verlander. He's tied with the Yankees' CC Sabathia with 16 wins, heading into his Thursday start. He leads the Major Leagues with 186 strikeouts and don't forget his no-hitter this year. In a head-to-head match-up with another Cy Young contender, the Angels' Jered Weaver, he came out on top.

NL CY YOUNG: The Phillies' Roy Halladay is a slam-dunk, a repeat of his victory in 2010. It will be his third Cy Young. His 15-4 record is best in the NL to go with a second-best ERA (2.30). There's some sentiment for the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, but this is another Halladay year. His strongest competition could come from teammate Cole Hamels, but Halladay has been better.

AL ROOKIE: If Desmond Jennings had been with the Rays all season, he would be my rookie. No questions asked. But since he has only been up for a short period the nod goes to teammate and pitcher Jeremy Hellickson. He's had a solid rookie year and has a brilliant future. Without him, the Rays would be even further back in the standings.

NL ROOKIE: Atlanta's Freddie Freeman. His .294 average is second to Braves' veteran catcher Brian McCann, he's second in runs (53) and RBIs (57) and third in homers (15). Teammate Craig Kimbrel, with his 36 saves, is also a strong contender.

AL MANAGER: Cleveland's Manny Acta. The Indians have been the biggest surprise in the AL this summer. After a torrid start, skeptics said they would fold, but Acta has kept them in the race throughout the season.

NL MANAGER: Pittsburgh's Clint Hurdle. In Spring Training, Hurdle said there would be a new look with the Pirates. He went so far as to say they were capable of playing .500 baseball. They've hit the skids lately, but their turnaround from the depths of the NL Central should net Hurdle the award.

It should be noted that I do not have a vote for any of these awards with the BBWAA.

And between now and the end of the season my choices may change, but for now they stand.

Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.