10/04/12 9:00 AM ET
Four stars in mix for September Mane Man honors
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
Will Medlen become the only repeat winner this season and take this in consecutive months? Will this be MVP prelude recognition for Braun and/or Cabrera? Will it be a nod of respect for a San Diego slugger who quietly has led the Majors in RBIs this half and has 31 homers despite a spacious home park?
The Head & Shoulders Mane Men are being recognized on 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 September:
Braun: It might be two National League MVP Awards in a row for the Brewers' star, who has been a model of consistency this season. One thing in September really jumped out: He was 40-for-110, a lights-out .364 in rallying Milwaukee from nowhere into late contention. Braun does it all, and on Saturday, he joined a rare group: at least 40 homers and 30 steals.
"I don't really worry about things that are out of my control," Braun said. "It was amazing, the run that we went on to get back into contention. I think we're all proud of that. Ultimately, we'll be disappointed we didn't end up in the postseason, but it certainly wasn't for a lack of effort."
Cabrera: It took a big September push not only to help the Tigers into a clinch position, but also to make an 11th-hour bid at the first Triple Crown since 1967. Cabrera's 10 homers and 27 RBIs were his most of any month this season, and his 1.032 OPS came when many regulars wear down. All eyes are on Cabrera now, on his way to a potential American League MVP Award.
"If I don't get a hit, it's like, 'Ohhhh,'" Cabrera said. "Everyone gets so disappointed. Even in my own dugout. ... These last two weeks, the way people are acting, it's crazy."
Headley: If you were waiting for this Chase Headley stuff to die down, having seen him top out at 12 homers his previous three full seasons, lesson learned. He is on track to be a high fantasy pick next spring, entering Monday with 31 homers, 113 RBIs and 16 steals. Headley had his best month in September, peaking at .324/.410/.647 with a season-best 1.057 OPS split.
"Coming into the year, I set some goals," Headley said after hitting his 30th homer on Saturday, just the 10th time in Padres history a player has reached that level. "I wanted to hit 15 home runs and drive in 75 RBIs. That was my initial goal that I set, and it was something I hadn't done, but I thought it was attainable. That's where I started, and [I] kept resetting my goals when I'd reach a milestone."
Medlen: At this time last month, Medlen was nominated for the August award by default when Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright lost his final start of that month. This time, it's a no-brainer. Medlen beat the Mets on the last day of September, and that marked the 23rd straight time the Braves have won when he started -- setting the Major League record. Medlen was 4-0 in September, just as he was in August.
"I think the best part about it is that my name is in the history books, but it is a team thing," Medlen said. "They're team wins. Guys go out and battle for me, because they know I'm going to throw strikes. So I'm going to just try to continue executing my pitches. It's been a fun ride."
The four nominees for the monthly honor are selected by an MLB.com editorial panel.
The last Mane Men of the Month winner was Medlen. He received 41 percent of that vote, ahead of 30 percent for Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and 33 percent ahead of Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, so the Braves sensation is plenty tested against marquee talent. Previous winners were Mike Trout of the Angels for July, Matt Cain of the Giants for June and Cole Hamels of the Phillies for May.
The overall program began with Seattle's Dustin Ackley getting the nod for that 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.