The MLB regular season awards are set to be announced starting Nov. 12 through the 15. Here are some insights to the individual battles and some predictions.
American League Cy Young:
David Price, Rays (20-5, 2.56 ERA, 211 IP, 205 K’s, .226 avg, 1.10 WHIP)
Justin Verlander, Tigers (17-8, 2.64 ERA, 238.1 IP, 239 K’s, .217 avg, 1.06 WHIP)
Jered Weaver, Angels (20-5, 2.81 ERA, 188.2 IP, 142 K’s, .214 avg, 1.02 WHIP)
The American League Cy Young award is a tough choice this year; there were many pitchers who had remarkable seasons such as David Price, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver and Chris Sale. However, the award really comes down to just Verlander and Price. Weaver won 20 games and had a great second half, but his innings pitched and strikeouts were a little lower than Verlander’s and Price’s. Sale won’t win it because he had the highest ERA out of the pitchers mentioned, and at age 23, his day will come sooner rather than later. The decision between Verlander and Price is a tough one because they are ranked one and two in almost all of the top categories. Verlander threw the most innings and is the quintessential “work horse.” He also had a lower WHIP, which essentially measures how many runners you allow per inning. However, he had a higher ERA than Price.
Ultimately, I give the nod to David Price because he led the league in ERA, which is the most important stat. The name of the game is to score more runs than your opponent, and when Price is only giving up 2.56 earned runs per nine innings, I like my chances of winning. Also, in starts where their team lost the day before, Price was 10-3 with a 2.91 ERA, whereas Verlander was 9-3 with a 3.01 ERA.
American League MVP:
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (44 HR, 139 RBI, .330 avg)
Mike Trout, Angels (30 HR, 83 RBI, 49 SB, .326 avg.)
This year’s MVP decision is the perfect example of the age old question: Should the MVP be given to the most valuable player or the best player? Miguel Cabrera had the better season, but Mike Trout was more valuable to his team. The Angels were awful before Trout was in the leadoff spot every day. Trout was not called up to the majors until about a month into the season and only played in 139 games. The numbers that he put up as a 21-year-old rookie in 139 games are staggering. This type of dominance and his effect on the outcome of the game reminds people of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. Unlike Cabrera, Trout took away runs on defense with his range and unbelievable home-run robs. As a leadoff hitter, he hit 30 home runs, stole 49 bases and was only thrown out five times.
However, Miguel Cabrera is the MVP, and as a diehard Angel fan, that is the toughest sports-related statement I have ever had to say. Mike Trout will most likely win multiple MVP awards in his career, so the award goes to Cabrera. I did not think I would ever see a player win the triple crown in my life time, as nobody has done it since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. The two most important offensive statistics in baseball are runs and runs batted in. When a player like Cabrera drives in 139 runs and still hits .330, then that player is the MVP to me. Finally, Cabrera moved to third base to accommodate Prince Fielder and played decent defense, which is pretty selfless and valuable.
AL Manager of the Year:
Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles and Bob Melvin, Oakland A’s
This award cannot be given to one manager; Buck Showalter and Bob Melvin each did too good of a job with their individual teams. Bob Melvin took over the Oakland Athletics job on June 9, 2011 on an interim basis before being given the full managerial title. In 2011, the A’s went 74-88 and in 2012 they went a remarkable 94-68. What makes his coaching job this year even more amazing is that besides Brandon McCarthy, the A’s starting pitching staff were all rookies. To take such a young team with rising stars, such as Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick, and turn them into a playoff team in such a short time is absolutely amazing.
On the other hand, Buck Showalter’s job with the Orioles is equally remarkable. He was hired in 2010, and in his first two seasons the Orioles went 66-96 and 69-93. In 2012, however, the Orioles went 93-69 in the AL East and went to the playoffs for the first time since 1997. Before Showalter, the Orioles had talent that was not translating into wins, but players like Matt Wieters and Adam Jones have begun to play like the perennial all-stars they should be. Showalter’s decisions with the pitching staff really propelled the Orioles into the playoffs, and with some improvement in the next couple years, the Orioles have the tools to win a World Series.
National League Cy Young:
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (14-9 2.53 ERA, 229 K’s, 63 BB, 210 avg 1.02 WHIP)
RA Dickey, Mets (20-6, 2.73 ERA, 230 K’s, 54 BB, .226 avg, 1.05 WHIP)
Johnny Cueto, Reds (19-9, 2.78 ERA 170 K’s, 49 BB, .252 avg 1.17 WHIP)
Craig Kimbrel, Braves (3-1, 1.01 ERA, 42 saves, 116 K’s, 14 BB, .126 avg, .65 WHIP)
As much as I enjoyed watching hitters passively flail at RA Dickey’s knuckleball and appreciate his journey, Craig Kimbrel is the NL Cy Young award winner. Yes, I know that Kimbrel is a closer and faced only 188 batters this season compared to Dickey facing 701 hitters. But Kimbrel had 116 strikeouts this season — let me repeat myself. Kimbrel struck out 116 of the 188 batters that he faced this season. He had a .65 WHIP which means he’s allowing a half of a runner to get on base per inning that he pitches. Also, he posted 42 saves on a playoff team, whereas the Dodgers and Mets did not make the playoffs. As a baseball fan, Kimbrel is a player that excites people, and you just do not see that very often. Also, when Kimbrel allows one earned run per nine innings, you kind of have to give him the award.
National League MVP:
Buster Posey, Giants (.336 avg, 24 HR’s, 96 K’s, .408 OBP, 178 hits, 103 RBI)
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (.327avg, 31 HR’s, 132 K’s, 400 OBP, 194 hits, 96 RBI)
This award was quite easy to give to Posey. Leading the league in batting average after not playing for a full season is quite impressive. While he did not hit as many home runs or collect as many hits as McCutchen, Posey hit .385 in the second half of the season and led his team to the World Series. McCutchen was playing great baseball in the first half of the season but only hit .289 in the second half, and the Pirates failed to make the playoffs. A very interesting stat that nobody has realized is that Posey’s on-base percentage was higher than Mike Trout’s. Posey also plays elite defense at the catcher position and handles the Giants’ high-powered pitching staff very well.
NL Manager of the Year:
Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals
Davey Johnson has taken a very young group of talented baseball players and turned them into an exciting franchise that looks like they are going to be dominant for the next 10 to 20 years. The Nationals went 98-64 this year after not winning more than 81 games in each of the previous seven seasons. The way he has developed Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa should be referenced by future managers who inherit young teams. Also, the very controversial decision to shut down Strasburg at the end of the year was made by Mike Rizzo, the general manager, not Johnson.