Who Is Walking Away With The Trophy?
05 Nov, 2018
Like the Hot Stove season, the exhibition season, the regular season and the postseason, awards season has become a season unto itself in MLB. The central focus of awards season began with Monday night’s MLB Network announcement of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America awards finalists.
The American League and National League winners of the following awards will be revealed next week live on MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET on the scheduled day:
AL and NL Jackie Robinson Rookies of the Year — Monday, Nov. 12
AL and NL Managers of the Year — Tuesday, Nov. 13
AL and NL Cy Young Awards — Wednesday, Nov. 14
AL and NL MVP Awards — Thursday, Nov. 15
For now, we know the top three vote-getters on each ballot. Remember that BBWAA awards voting took place at the conclusion of the regular season, so postseason performance did not factor into consideration.
Here are the finalists for each of these prestigious honors:
AL MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Mookie Betts, OF, Red Sox: With a .346 average, 32 homers and 30 stolen bases, Betts became the first 30-30 batting champ in history, and he also led the Majors in slugging percentage (.640) and runs scored (129). He had the Major League-leading Wins Above Replacement mark in both the FanGraphs (10.4) and Baseball Reference (10.9) calculations. Many thought teammate J.D. Martinez might join him as a finalist, but he missed the cut.
Jose Ramirez, 3B, Indians: Ramirez actually beat Betts to the 30-30 club entrance, notching his 30th steal in early September and becoming the first player since 2012 (and only the fourth third baseman) to reach 30-30 status. He became just the 25th player in MLB history with at least 30 homers and 30 steals and at least 100 runs and 100 RBIs.
Mike Trout, OF, Angels: After Trout delivered a career-high OPS (1.088) and on-base percentage (.460), to go with 39 homers, 24 doubles and 24 steals, the question, as usual, is how many first-place votes his team standing (the Angels finished 80-82) cost him. He may have finished in the top two of the MVP voting for the sixth time in seven seasons.
NL MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies: For the third straight season, Arenado had an OPS over .900 (.935, to be exact). For the third time in the last four years, he led the NL in homers (38). For the sixth straight year, his all-world defense at third was recognized with a Gold Glove. Whatever the exact result, this will be his highest finish in the MVP voting.
Javier Baez, 2B/SS, Cubs: The NL RBIs leader (111) became the first player in Cubs history to reach 40 doubles, 30 homers and 20 stolen bases in a single season. He finished second in the league in extra-base hits (83). Baez’s defensive versatility (he played 104 games at second base, 65 at short and 22 at third) added to his value.
Christian Yelich, OF, Brewers: The NL Hank Aaron Award winner led the league in the FanGraphs (7.6) and Baseball Reference (7.6) WAR calculations, batting average (.326), OPS (1.000) and total bases (343). A September surge in which he slashed .370/.508/.804 while the Brewers stormed to the top of the NL Central might have sealed this award for him.
AL CY YOUNG
Corey Kluber, RHP, Indians: After winning the AL Cy Young Award in 2014 and ’17, Kluber is a finalist for the third straight year. He won 20 games for the first time, led the league in innings (215) and had the third-best WHIP (0.99) and fifth-best ERA (2.89) among qualifiers.
Blake Snell, LHP, Rays: Snell didn’t have the typical volume of a Cy Young Award winner, but he made his 180 2/3 innings count. He led the Majors with 21 wins and a 219 ERA+, and his 1.89 ERA was the best among AL qualifiers.
Justin Verlander, RHP, Astros: Verlander’s 159 ERA+ was the best by a qualified pitcher aged 35 or older since Roger Clemens’ 226 mark in 2005. Verlander led the AL in strikeouts (290) and led the Majors in WHIP (0.90) across 214 innings, with a 16-9 record and 2.52 ERA.
NL CY YOUNG
Jacob deGrom, RHP Mets: To focus on deGrom’s 10-9 record would be to ignore the 1.70 ERA that was the best in the NL by 67 points. He had 18 starts in which he went at least six innings and allowed one or zero earned runs, and he set a record with 29 straight starts allowing three runs or fewer. There was talk of deGrom making his way into NL MVP consideration, but he was not one of the finalists.
Aaron Nola, RHP, Phillies: The ace of an improved Phillies team, Nola tied deGrom atop the NL in total WAR via the Baseball Reference tally (10.0). He was second in the league in ERA (2.37), third in innings (212 1/3) and third in WHIP (0.97).
Max Scherzer, RHP, Nationals: Vying for his third straight NL Cy Young Award (and his fourth Cy Young Award overall), the Nats’ indefatigable ace led the Majors in innings (220 2/3) and strikeouts (300) and tied deGrom with a 0.91 WHIP. He finished third in the NL in ERA (2.53).
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Miguel Andujar, 3B, Yankees: To go with his 27 homers, which tied the White Sox outfielder Daniel Palkafor the Major League lead among rookies, Andujar also set a Yankees rookie record with 47 doubles, surpassing Joe DiMaggio’s 44 in 1936.
Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH, Angels: Billed as the “Japanese Babe Ruth,” Ohtani delivered, becoming the first player since Ruth with 10 pitching appearances and 20 homers in a season. Though a right elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery prevented him from pitching in the second half, he was above average both in 51 2/3 innings pitched (126 ERA+) and in 367 plate appearances (152 OPS+).
Gleyber Torres, 2B, Yankees: Though Andujar eventually overtook him in several key categories, Torres finished with a solid .271/.340/.480 slash line to go with 24 homers and 16 doubles.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Braves: The 20-year-old had the third-highest OPS of any player in baseball in the second half (1.028) and finished with 26 homers, 16 steals and a .552 slugging percentage. His ascension to the leadoff spot after the All-Star break sparked the Braves in the NL East race.
Walker Buehler, RHP, Dodgers: The votes came in before Buehler truly flipped the star switch with a terrific postseason. But his regular season had plenty of highlights, too. Buehler’s 2.31 ERA as a starter was the lowest by a rookie with at least 130 innings since Jose Fernandez’s 2.19 mark in 2013.
Juan Soto, OF, Nationals: The 19-year-old wound up in the teenage-season record books for second-most homers (22, tied with teammate Bryce Harper from 2012), most multihomer games (three), most walks (79) and highest OBP (.406) and OPS (.923).
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Kevin Cash, Rays: In the last year, the Rays traded away established talent like Chris Archer, Evan Longoria, Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi and Alex Colome. And they tasked Cash with implementing a revolutionary pitching plan that involved not just routine bullpen days but the “opener” strategy. Despite all this, the Rays won 90 games.
Alex Cora, Red Sox: Becoming just the fifth rookie manager to win the World Series might have cemented this award for Cora had the voting taken place at the end of October. As it stands, the winningest regular season in Red Sox history (108 wins) is still pretty solid for a first-timer.
Bob Melvin, A’s: The A’s were the first team on record to reach the postseason despite beginning the year with the lowest payroll in MLB. Melvin has already won Manager of the Year in both leagues (with the D-backs in 2007 and the A’s in ’12), but this might have been his finest work yet.
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Bud Black, Rockies: Though Black’s Rockies weren’t able to down the Dodgers in Game 163, they went an NL-best 53-30 after June 28 to grab a Wild Card spot for the second straight season.
Craig Counsell, Brewers: Counsell finished fourth in this voting last year, after the Brewers fell one game shy of a postseason berth. With the Brewers having gotten over the hump by defeating the Cubs in Game 163 to win the NL Central title, Counsell is firmly in the running this year.
Brian Snitker, Braves: The longtime organizational guy proved to be the right person to take the Braves to the next level. Atlanta took over the top spot in the NL East ahead of schedule and hung tough in the second half.
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