There never has been as much argument over the definition of Major League Baseball’s awards as there has been the past few years. Should the Most Valuable Player Award go to the best player, no matter what his team’s record is? Or should it go to the player who was most valuable in getting his team into the postseason. Should Rookie of the Year go to someone who played the whole season? Or should it go to a rookie who sparked his team the most? These debates will all be going on among all of your favorite national baseball writers over the next week, so I’m not going to waste time on my definitions. I’m just going to lay them out there the way I see it. I will also be showing my preseason predictions as well. No matter how horribly wrong they may have turned out to be.
Note: All statistics used are as of 9/27, and are according to Fangraphs
AL MVP: Mike Trout
***Preseason Prediction: Evan Longoria
1. Mike Trout OF LAA (.323/.431/.554, 26 HR, 33 SB, 10.2 WAR)
2. Miguel Cabrera 3B DET (.347/.441/.637, 44 HR, 7.7 WAR)
3. Josh Donaldson 3B OAK (.302/.383/.502, 24 HR, 7.6 WAR)
4. Evan Longoria 3B TB (.267/.343/.493, 31 HR, 6.6 WAR)
5. Jacoby Ellsbury OF BOS (.297/.355/.421, 8 HR, 52 SB, 5.7 WAR)
Honorable Mention: Chris Davis (6.7 WAR)
The first controversy. Yes, the Angels had a horribly disappointing season. Yes, most offensive statistics give Miguel Cabrera the edge, and yes his team is going to the playoffs. But Mike Trout’s season cannot be overlooked. There is nothing that Mike Trout cannot do. There are things that Miguel Cabrera cannot do. That is the difference to me. One could even make the case that they would rather start out there lineup with Trout than Cabrera because of his speed. In this day of baseball, speed is becoming a more and more useful attribute. Trout possesses the skill to force errors because of his speed. Trout also stole 33 bases . His speed accounts for the fact that he leads the majors in runs scored. Harold Reynolds will tell you that scoring runs is the most important thing a hitter does. Trout did take a bit of a step down defensively this year. However, that can be owed to, in part, because he was playing a bit more left field. Certainly, Mike Trout will do far more good than bad for you defensively. Miguel Cabrera on the other hand, had a particularly very poor defensive season. Even worse than his MVP winning 2012 season. Fangraphs awarded him a UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) of -15.4. According to Fangraphs’ scale for the UZR statistic, a -15 is ‘awful’. Some analysts will tell you that Miguel Cabrera is not actually a terrible third baseman. While Cabrera does not really commit an abhorrent amount of errors, his range can be best compared to that of a snail. Non-existent. This rambling is not an anyway meant to diminish Miguel Cabrera’s season. Cabrera’s numbers offensively this year cannot be rivaled by many in baseball history. As for the rest of my list it is fairly self-explanatory. Jacoby Ellsbury, somewhat quietly, had a really nice year. I didn’t have Chris Davis in my top five for a few reasons. 1) He plays a less important position than others on the list. 2) His team did not make the playoffs, and his season wasn’t so incredibly impressive that he deserved a spot anyways. And 3) He is a truly terrible defensive first baseman.
***Preseason Prediction: Matt Kemp (yikes)
1. Clayton Kershaw SP LAD (236.0 IP, 1.83 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 4.5 K/BB, 5.8% HR/FB, 2.88 xFIP, 6.5 WAR)
2. Andrew McCutchen OF PIT (.317/.404/.503, 20 HR, 27 SB, 7.9 WAR)
3. Carlos Gomez OF MIL (.278/.333/.498, 23 HR, 37 SB, 7.1 WAR)
4. Matt Carpenter (.321/.395/.486, 11 HR, 7.2 WAR)
5. Paul Goldschmidt (.303/.402/.555, 36 HR, 6.5 WAR)
Honorable Mentions: Joey Votto, Troy Tulowitzki, Andrelton Simmons, Russell Martin, Hanley Ramirez, Yadier Molina (blech), Jayson Werth
I know a lot of people feel Andrew McCutchen is the obvious NL MVP winner. Andrew McCutchen will win NL MVP, but to me Clayton Kershaw was definitely the NL’s Most Valuable Player this season. Clayton Kershaw was about the only thing holding the Dodgers’ ship afloat in mid-June. He is, without a doubt, Major League Baseball’s best pitcher. If the Dodgers couldn’t have relied on Kershaw to give them an incredibly great chance to win through their early season struggles, I don’t believe their season would have turned out this way. People also know that I am a bit of a Clayton Kershaw fanboy, and I will admit that could have played a role in my thinking this way. It is also true that the Pirates definitely are not a playoff team without McCutchen. But I believe the true difference maker for this year’s Pirates team was not the incredible starting pitching, or the lights-out bullpen. It was Russell Martin. He is, mind you, probably a large part of the reason why the Pittsburgh pitching staff was so improved this year. He is miles ahead of Rod Barajas or Michael McKenry defensively. Teams were no longer running wild on the Pirates, as they did in 2012. I also imagine Martin called a much better game than McKenry or Barajas could have done. And it’s not as if Russell Martin was a burden on offense either. He hit a decent 15 homeruns (Almost as many as Barajas and McKenry combined in 2012), and posted a solid .327 on-base percentage. Those are my reasons for giving Kershaw the nod over McCutchen. I entirely understand why most disagree, but I hope you at least appreciate my thought process. As for others on the list, Carlos Gomez had an insanely good season. He is baseball’s best defensive center fielder, and he just so happens to hit .280 with over 20 homers, and 37 stolen bases on the side. As much as it pains me to say as a Brewers fan, Matt Carpenter is an absolute monster. Not much else to be said. Everything else, speaks for itself.
AL Cy Young: Max Scherzer
***Preseason Prediction: Justin Verlander
1. Max Scherzer SP DET (214.1 IP, 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 10.08 K/9, 6.4 WAR)
2. Yu Darvish SP TEX (204.0 IP, 2.82 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 11.87 K/9 (Wow.), 4.9 WAR)
3. Anibal Sanchez SP DET (182.0 IP 2.57 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 9.99 K/9, 6.2 WAR)
4. Hisashi Iwakuma SP SEA (219.2 IP, 2.66 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 7.58 K/9, 4.3 WAR)
5. Chris Sale SP CHW (214.1 IP, 3.07 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 9.49 K/9, 5.1 WAR)
Honorable Mention: Felix Hernandez
Yeah, I don’t think there is too much debate over this. Max Scherzer had a really great year. I think if Anibal Sanchez was able to get a few more starts he’d be the winner. Yu Darvish had a ridiculously good year as well. Yu Darvish now has 490 strikeouts in 395.1 major league innings. Insane. Hisashi Iwakuma was pretty dominant this year, quietly. Another one of my personal favorite pitchers in baseball is Chris Sale. His slider is arguably the most devastating pitch in all of major league baseball. Good luck left-handed hitters.
Check out this video to see how nasty Chris Sale is:
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
***Preseason Prediction: Clayton Kershaw
1. Clayton Kershaw SP LAD (236.0 IP, 1.83 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 4.5 K/BB, 5.8% HR/FB, 2.88 xFIP, 6.5 WAR)
2. Jose Fernandez SP MIA (172.2 IP, 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 9.75 K/9, 4.2 WAR)
3. Matt Harvey SP NYM (178.1 IP, 2.27 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 9.64 K/9, 0.35 HR/9 (!!!), 6.1 WAR)
4. Cliff Lee SP PHI (222.2 IP, 2.87 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 8.97 K/9, 5.1 WAR)
5. Adam Wainwright (241.2 IP, 2.94 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 8.16 K/9, 6.2 WAR)
Honorable Mentions: Craig Kimbrel, Francisco Liriano, Zack Greinke
If he’s my MVP, he has to be my Cy Young. Gives us a second opportunity to look at his beautiful stats. Jose Fernandez had a ridiculous season too. If he had been on a winning team, there’d be a lot more talk about him. We all know about Matt Harvey. I hope he is back Opening Day next year, because he really is awesome to watch. Cliff Lee had another Cliff Lee kind of year, and deserves recognition. Adam Wainwright was an absolute horse for the Cardinals this year. His K/BB ratio kind of slipped from the incredible rate it was at in the first half. He probably would’ve been higher on the list if it wasn’t for some recent struggles. Francisco Liriano was probably the number one difference maker in the Pirates rotation this year. I wish we could have seen a full season’s worth of stats for Zack Greinke. The Dodgers rotation was so ridiculously good, it’s unfair. Also Craig Kimbrel for being incredible again.
AL Rookie of the Year: Wil Myers
***Preseason Prediction: Jackie Bradley (Lol)
1. Wil Myers OF TB (364 PA, .293/.352/.476, 13 HR, 2.2 WAR)
2. Chris Archer SP TB (128.1 IP, 3.22 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 7.06 K/9, 1.2 WAR)
3. Jose Iglesias SS DET (380 PA, .305/.351/.388, 3 HR, 1.9 WAR)
Honorable Mention: Martin Perez
Wasn’t the best year for American League rookies. Wil Myers gets it because he is the best player. Wil Myers will be in some MVP conversations in the upcoming years. He is big time. Chris Archer is just another great pitcher that the Rays have rolled out. Will it ever end with the Rays pitching? I don’t really care a ton for Jose Iglesias’ game, but he did put together a pretty nice year offensively, as well as being a decent defensive shortstop.
Check Out some Wil Myers highlights. He’s pretty good:
NL Rookie of the Year: Jose Fernandez
***Preseason Prediction: Shelby Miller
1. Jose Fernandez SP MIA (172.2 IP, 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 9.75 K/9, 4.2 WAR)
2. Yasiel Puig OF LAD (429 PA, .321/.392/.537, 19 HR, 11 SB, 4.1 WAR)
3. Hyun-Jin Ryu SP LAD (188.0 IP, 2.97 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 7.18 K/9, 3.0 WAR)
4. Shelby Miller SP STL (173.1 IP, 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 8.78 K/9, 2.1 WAR)
5. Julio Teheran SP ATL (180.2 IP, 3.09 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 8.32 K/9, 2.4 WAR)
Honorable Mentions: Evan Gattis, Nolan Arenado, A.J. Pollock, Gerrit Cole, Juan Lagares, Jedd Gyorko
While it wasn’t the best year for AL rookies, it was an unbelievable season for NL rookies. There were so many great rookies in the NL this year. I’m afraid I’m forgetting some. If it had been any other year Yasiel Puig would’ve been an easy pick. However, Jose Fernandez had an indescribably good season, and just happens to be a rookie. Hyun-Jin Ryu, like any other starting pitcher for the Dodgers this year (not named Chris Capuano), was really good. My preseason pick, Shelby Miller, actually surprised me with how good he was, and he finished only fourth. Which should go to show how stacked the Rookie of the Year card really was in the National League. Julio Teheran is one to watch in the future. The honorable mentions are filled with players who probably could have had a chance at winning the award in some other years, but were out shined.
AL Manager of the Year: Terry Francona
***Preseason Prediction (Yes it is possible to make preseason picks for this award): Joe Maddon
1. Terry Francona
2. Bob Melvin
3. John Farrell
Honorable mention: Joe Maddon
When Terry Francona was fired, I think everyone knew that where ever he wound up would become a playoff team pretty quickly. Maybe not with the Indians in his first season though. Bravo to Terry Francona and the Indians on a solid season, no matter if they make the playoffs or not.
NL Manager of the Year: Clint Hurdle
***Preseason prediction: Don Mattingly
1. Clint Hurdle
2. Don Mattingly
Honorable Mention: Fredi Gonzalez, I guess
I don’t care for Clint Hurdle’s style of managing, but it’s impossible not to give him this award after the season the Pirates had. Kudos to Don Mattingly for getting his team through their early season struggles, though.
Enjoy the postseason.