Now that the baseball season is behind us, it’s time to start talking about post-season awards. This has been one of the most tumultuous seasons I can remember. There really isn’t a runaway choice in ANY category, in either league.
Here are mine:
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: An argument can legitimately be made for any of the playoff bound teams. In what many felt would be a bridge year for the Yankees, Joe Girardi has done a terrific job to get his team into the Wild Card Game. No manager in Red Sox history has ever won back to back division titles, until John Farrell accomplished that fete this season. Terry Francona led the Indians to the best record in the American League, including the longest winning streak in AL history of 22 games.. AJ Hinch led his Astros to 101 victories. But for me, the award must go to Paul Molitor. The Twins went from losing over 100 games in 2016, to winning 85 games this season, and securing the second Wild Card slot. Each of the other managers has an argument, but to me, taking a team who nobody thinks has enough talent, and making them a winner is what separates a good manager from a great one. What Molitor did with the Twins this season, makes him a great manager, and worthy of the Manager of the Year award.
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: I think this award is much more cut and dry with only two candidates. Although the Cubs, Dodgers, and Nationals have each had terrific seasons; each team was expected to win. Neither of the two teams playing in the Wildcard game was expected to be there. The managers of the Diamondbacks and Rockies have to be considered the only two legitimate candidates. Bud Black has done a wonderful job with the Colorado Rockies, taking the team from 75 wins in 2016, to 87 wins this season. That being said, to me, the NL Manager of the Year must be first-year manager Torey Lovullo. Coming from the Red Sox as an assistant, he took the Diamondbacks from a woeful 69 wins, to 93 wins; and hosting the Wildcard game.
AL CY YOUNG AWARD: I love me some Chris Sale…BUT, this is a two man race, and Sale has found himself with the silver medal. After a typical Sale start to the season, he put forth a typical Sale end to the season too, with his usual fade in August and September. That fade allowed Corey Kluber to swoop in and win this award. Kluber had more wins, 18 to 17, a far lower ERA, 2.25 to 2.90, a lower WHIP, .87 to .97, and a lower opponents batting average of .193 to .205. The only statistic Sale won was in strikeouts 308 to 265. I have a feeling the writers are going to give the award to Sale, but Kluber is the more deserving winner this season.
NL CY YOUNG AWARD: This is an interesting decision. Although, as in the American League, there are two main choices: Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw; there are a handful of other legitimate choices. Those choices are Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Gio Gonzalez, and Stephen Strasburg. Of those four, Greinke has the most wins, with 17, while Ray has the most strikeouts with 218. Strasburg has the lowest ERA and WHIP of the four, boasting a 2.52 and 1.02 respectively. And Ray has the lowest opponents’ batting average, holding the batters to just .199. Of those four, it will be interesting to see who gets into third place, because although they each had fantastic seasons, I can’t see any of them cracking into the top two. The fact that Scherzer is on the Nationals with Gonzalez and Strasburg makes it tough for either of them to get any oxygen. Scherzer is just at a slightly different level at this point. That being said, if I had a vote, my vote would go to Kershaw. It was another injury plagued season, yet he managed to win the most games in the NL with 18. He struck out 202 batters in only 175 innings. He boasted a sub 1 WHIP, at 0.95, and opponents only batter .212 against him. On top of that, he led the NL with a 2.31 ERA. It would be a thing to be behold if he could ever stay healthy for an entire season.
AL MVP AWARD: Four players are worthy of discussion in this category, but only two will garner serious attention. Jose Ramirez and Brian Dozier each put together nice seasons and will most likely finish 3-4 either way. Ramirez boasts a stat line of 107 Runs, 29 HR, 83 RBI, 17 SB, and a .318 AVG. Dozier boasts 106 Runs, 34 HR, 93 RBI, 16 SB, and a .269 AVG. And, each of their teams are in the playoffs. The most likely 1-2 finishers this season will be Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge. There seems to be a ton of momentum for Altuve, but to me the award must go to Judge. As a rookie, the things he did this season were historic. And, in a way, he put the Yankees on his vast shoulders to propel them into the playoffs. His stats tower over Altuve, much like his stature. He had 128 Runs to Altuve’s 112 Runs, he had 114 RBI to Altuve’s 81 RBI, and he of course hit a massive 52 HR to Altuve’s 24 HR. Altuve did dominate Judge in stolen bases, getting 32 SB. Although, for a big man, Judge managed to steal nine bases himself. Again, in average Altuve did dominate, boasting a league high .346 AVG. But, for a power hitter, Judge hit a respectable .284 AVG. On top of that, Judge had a better OBP and SLG than Altuve. Although I think the writers will give the award to Altuve, Judge deserves it, and I hope he wins it.
NL MVP AWARD: This is an interesting year for the NL MVP award. There are three extremely worthy candidates who are each on playoff teams, and one gargantuan candidate who is not. Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, and Paul Goldschmidt have each had MVP-worthy seasons. Each has over 100 Runs, with Blackmon having the most with 137. Each Arenado over 30 HR, with Blackmon and Arenado tied with 37. Each has over 100 RBI, with Arenado having the most with 130 RBI. Goldshmidt has 18 SB. Blackmon has a .331 AVG. THEY ARE EACH MONSTERS! In a normal season, if I had to choose one of those three, my choice would be Blackmon. His overall stat line is 137 Runs, 37 HR, 104 RBI, 14 SB, .331 AVG. He led the NL in hits and average, and finished third in OPS. As I said, in a normal year, I’d give the award to Blackmon. This wasn’t a normal year. Giancarlo Stanton has to be the NL MVP. Although his team missed the playoffs again, the Marlins had a respectable 77 wins. If it wasn’t for Stanton, who FINALLY had a healthy season, they would have probably won 65 games. His numbers were ridiculous! He had 123 Runs, 59 HR, and 132 RBI; to go with a respectable 281 AVG. The numbers are so prodigious that he must win this award.
Three quick points: First, there is a decent chance that neither Judge nor Stanton, who each hit over 50 bombs, wins the MVP award.
Second, where’s Mike Trout? I didn’t list him in the AL MVP race because although he again put up gaudy numbers, he realistically has no chance to win the award this year. It will be the first time in his career he hasn’t finished in the top two. I indicated that Jose Ramirez and Brian Dozier will be 3-4 in some fashion, which would put Trout fifth in the voting. That’s where I think he should be, but I think that based on name and reputation he’ll probably crack the top four.
And finally, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel deserves some love. He won’t be the AL Cy Young winner, or MVP…but he deserves consideration in either category, and should crack the top 10 in both. Consider the year he’s had. He finished third in the AL with 35 saves, to go with a 5-0 record. Opponents only batted an anemic .140 against him. He had a ridiculously low 1.43 ERA and even more ridiculous 0.68 WHIP. And he amassed 126 strikeouts in only 69 innings, (16.43/9Inn). It will be interesting to see where he lands in the voting. It was an eye popping season.
Let the debate begin!
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