The baseball regular season is over, and while the postseason is upon us, and this year’s awards won’t be awarded until after the completion of the World Series, the balloting is taking place now. I don’t have a ballot, but if I did, here’s how I would vote.
Note: In MVP balloting, each writer votes for his top 10, and in Cy Young balloting, each writer votes for his top 5. For the sake of efficiency, as well as not wasting your time or mine, I’ve listed stats and analysis for just my top 3 choices for each of these awards, and who else got my consideration
1. Pirates CF Andrew McCutcheon (.317 BA, 21 HR, 84 RBI, 38 2B, 97 R, 27 SB). McCutcheon is absolutely the leader of the first Pirates team to have a winning record since 1992, and the hosts of the NL Wild Card game on Tuesday. His stats aren’t quite as good as Goldschmidt or Freeman, but this award doesn’t necessarily go to the player with the best stats.
2. Diamondbacks 1B Paul Goldschmidt (.302 BA, 36 HR, 124 RBI, 36 2B, 103 R). Goldschmidt led the Diamondbacks, a team that led the NL West for a large portion of the season, before falling victim to the Dodgers charge. Without Goldschmidt, the Diamondbacks, who finished 81-81, may have been struggling to win 70 or 75.
3. Braves 1B Freddie Freeman (.319 BA, 23 HR, 108 RBI, .438 BA with RISP). The best hugger in the NL is also a big reason for the Braves success in winning the NL East. He has been particularly hot in the second half, and is also one of the best defensive 1B in the game.
Also considered (ordered 4-9): Cardinals 2B Matt Carpenter, Cardinals C Yadier Molina, Dodgers SS Hanley Ramirez, Rockies OF Michael Cuddyer, Dodgers P Clayton Kershaw, Braves P Craig Kimbrel (note: I’m usually reluctant to give pitchers much MVP credit because they have their own award, the Cy Young. For Kershaw and Kimbrel to be considered, I’m obviously impressed by their body of work).
NL Cy Young
1. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 236 IP, 232 K, 52 BB, 164 H, .195 BAA). This was a tough decision for 1st and 2nd, but Kershaw’s numbers are Maddux-like from his run of four straight Cy Youngs (1992-1995). Any time a starter has an ERA of less than 2.00 and less than a .200 BAA, it is deserving of a Cy Young Award.
2. Braves closer Craig Kimbrel (50/54 saves, 1.23 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 66 IP, 98 K, 20 BB, 38 H, .165 BAA). Kimbrel’s numbers are also ridiculously good, and he has a chance to become the first reliever since 2003 to win the Cy Young. He is only the second pitcher in history with 50 saves and less than 40 hits allowed in a single season, and also struck out approximately half of the batters he faced. Kimbrel had a stretch of 37 straight saves snapped late in the year. His numbers were actually even better last year, and for the second straight year, he may be just short of a Cy Young.
3. Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 241.2 IP, 219 K, 35 BB, 223 H, .248 BAA). I’m a little reluctant to put him 3rd because of that .248 batting average against. Wainwright did lead the league in innings pitched, and yet still only gave up an average of 1 BB per start. He is the unquestioned leader of a very good Cardinals rotation and pitching staff.
Also considered (ordered 4-9): Mets starter Matt Harvey, Marlins starter Jose Fernandez, Phillies starter Cliff Lee, Nationals starter Jordan Zimmerman, Pirates starter Francisco Liriano, Reds starter Mat Latos.
NL Rookie of the Year
1. Marlins P Jose Fernandez (12-6, 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 172.2 IP, 187 K, 58 BB, 111 H, .182 BAA). Fernandez may win this award unanimously, as he has numbers that put him in Cy Young contention. Keep in mind his 12-6 record is with the Marlins offense backing him up; he didn’t really have much help.
2. Dodgers P Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-7, 2.97 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 188 IP, 150 K, 48 BB, 174 H, .247 BAA). I hesitate to vote for players for Rookie of the Year who have played in the majors in Japan and then come play here. Ryu is one of these, but since he is eligible, I’ll put him in 2nd. Very solid year pitching for the NL West Champions, the Dodgers.
3. Braves C/OF Evan Gattis (.238 BA, 20 HR, 63 RBI, 21 2B, 42 R). This was a tough pick between Gattis and Shelby Miller, who probably has better stats than Gattis. However, Gattis’ story going from janitor and ski lift operator to the Braves cleanup hitter, coupled with his tendency to perform better in the clutch, gave him a slight edge. 9 of Gattis’ 20 HRs have been in the 7th or later, and 12 have either tied the game or given the Braves the lead. His 20 HR and 63 RBI is in somewhat limited playing time.
Also considered (ordered 4-10): Cardinals P Shelby Miller, Pirates P Gerrit Cole, Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig, Padres 2B Jedd Gyorko, Braves P Julio Teheran, Mets P Zach Wheeler, Reds P Tony Cingrani
NL Manager of the Year
1. Clint Hurdle (Pirates). Led the Pirates to the playoffs after 21 straight losing seasons. Enough said.
2. Don Mattingly (Dodgers). Led the Dodgers to a division title after a 30-42 start, going 62-38 the rest of the way.
3. Fredi Gonzalez (Braves). Led the Braves through the disappointment of last year’s Wild Card loss and multiple injury issues to the East title.
Also considered (ordered 4-6): Mike Matheny (Cardinals), Dusty Baker (Reds), Kirk Gibson (Diamondbacks)
1. Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera (.348 BA, 44 HR, 137 RBI, 193 H, 103 R, .636 SLG, .442 OBP). Cabrera becomes the first right-handed hitter to win three straight batting titles since Rogers Hornsby (1920-25). In doing so, he also led the league in RBI and was second to Chris Davis in HRs. This is a tough choice between 1st and 2nd, but also remember Cabrera is on a playoff team and Mike Trout is not.
2. Angels OF Mike Trout (.323 BA, 26 HR, 96 RBI, 39 2B, 9 3B, 108 R, 33 SB, .431 OBP). Trout is the ultimate five-tool player, as he has proven in his two years he can hit for average, hit for power, play defense, throw, and run the bases. He will be a star in Los Angeles for a long time. He would be the MVP if a future Hall-of-Famer wasn’t in his way.
3. Orioles 1B Chris Davis (.286 BA, 53 HR, 138 RBI, 42 2B, 103 R, .634 SLG). Davis is a distant third, but only because most of these huge numbers came from a big first half, not his slumping second half. If the two halves of the season had been reversed, or if the Orioles had gotten in the playoffs instead of falling just short, Davis might would be under more consideration.
Also considered (ordered 4-7): Yankees 2B Robinson Cano, Red Sox DH David Ortiz, Athletics 3B Josh Donaldson, Tigers P Max Scherzer.
AL Cy Young
1. Tigers starter Max Scherzer (21-3, 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 214 IP, 240 K, 56 BB, 152 H, .192 BAA). This was a pretty easy pick. Scherzer was at one point 13-0 and later 19-1 on the year. The 21-3 mark ties him for 14th in single season winning percentage in MLB history. A WHIP under 1.00 and an BAA under .200 are also very good for any pitcher, particularly a starter.
2. Red Sox closer Koji Uehara (21/24 saves, 1.10 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, 73.1 IP, 100 K, 9 BB, 32 H, .129 BAA). Nobody’s talking about this guy so I will. He has been ridiculously good all year, particularly since becoming the Red Sox closer at midseason. His numbers are arguably even better than Craig Kimbrel, who pretty much everyone claims as the best closer in baseball.
3. Athletics starter Bartolo Colon (18-6, 2.65 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 190.1 IP, 117 K, 29 BB, 193 H, .264 BAA). Colon’s numbers don’t touch Scherzer’s, and might not normally be in the top 3 for a Cy Young race. However, Colon threw his heart out for the AL West winning Athletics at the age of 40. He should be well past his prime by now, but he keeps getting better.
Also considered (ordered 4-10): Rays starter Matt Moore, Rangers starter Yu Darvish, White Sox starter Chris Sale, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, Rays starter David Price, Royals closer Greg Holland, Angels starter CJ Wilson, Twins closer Glen Perkins.
AL Rookie of the Year
1. Rays OF Wil Myers (.293 BA, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 21 2B, 48 R, .476 SLG). Some would argue Myers isn’t even the best rookie on his own team (Chris Archer), but I think he’s the best in all the AL. His stat line may not have anything that jumps out at you, but he put this together in just 87 games. He also brings a lot of speed and defensive skill to the Rays.
2. Rangers P Martin Perez (10-5, 3.55 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 119 IP, 79 K, 125 H, .268 BAA). The stats I just listed aren’t really why he’s here. He’s gotten better throughout the season, and the Rangers are trusting him, a rookie, to start tonight’s one-game playoff against the Rays David Price. I think that trust and confidence speaks for itself.
3. Tigers SS Jose Iglesias (.305 BA, 3 HR, 39 RBI, 16 2B, 39 R, .352 OBP) Once again, the stats don’t jump off the screen, but Iglesias has been a very good SS (and occasionally 3B), starting the season on the Red Sox, before being traded to the Tigers. For a rookie to be a big piece of two playoff teams, and one of the two centerpieces of a big deadline deal (along with Jake Peavy), this is quite an accomplishment.
Also considered (ordered 4-5): Rays P Chris Archer, Indians P Cody Allen
AL Manager of the Year
1. John Farrell (Red Sox). Led the Red Sox from a last place finish under Bobby Valentine last year to the AL’s best record. Has done a great job and put the Red Sox into definite World Series contention.
2. Joe Girardi (Yankees). Led the Yankees, despite millions of dollars worth of injuries and the distractions of the A-Rod drug situation and Mariano Rivera’s retirement, to within 6 games of the Wild Card. It is remarkable the Yankees were still in the race in the final week.
3 (tie). Ned Yost (Royals). On the real ballot, you can’t have a tie, but I just can’t decide between these two, because both deserve recognition. Yost led the Royals to the first winning record since 2003 and very nearly made the playoffs for the first time since 1985.
3 (tie). Terry Francona (Indians). After a year in the broadcast booth, came back to lead the Indians from a 68-94 record to the AL Wild Card with mostly the same roster. He won 2 World Series titles in Boston and confirmed this year he is one of the best.
Also considered (ordered 5-9): Joe Maddon (Rays), Bob Melvin (Athletics), Jim Leyland (Tigers), Buck Showalter (Orioles), Ron Washington (Rangers).