Despite being in third place at 30-29, Tanaka has been nothing short of dominant and has so far lived up to the hype that surrounded him coming over from Japan and signing a seven-year deal with the Yankees.
Following the Yankees 2-1 victory on Thursday afternoon against the Oakland A's, Tanaka picked up his ninth win of the season despite only going six innings, but is now 9-1 on the season with an American League-leading 2.02 ERA with 92 strikeouts in 84.2 innings.
Tanaka's strong start to the 2014 season isn't just earning him early honors for the American League Cy Young Award and potentially to start for the American League team in next month's All Star Game, but he's getting discussions for the American League Most Valuable Player award too as well. Joel Sherman of the New York Post discussed Tanaka's case for the MVP award.
"Two months into the season, Masahiro Tanaka is a front-runner for AL Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and to start the All-Star Game. Can we add MVP to the discussion, too? For the Yanks would already be near playoff extinction already without Tanaka, which makes him invaluable and, perhaps, “Most Valuable.” It is not just that the Yankees win when Tanaka pitches (9-2). It is that his workhorse genius — emphasis on workhorse — has empowered Joe Girardi to use the strength of this team, the late-inning pen, aggressively and early when the Yanks have a chance to win. Tanaka is winning his games and saving the bullpen to give the Yankees a chance to win other games. Is that Most Valuable?"