This morning, Prof and I dive into the wonderful world of MLB Award season! The conclusion of the 2016 regular season is upon us and before we dive into the playoffs, we should take a few moments to reflect back upon the season behind us. As we all know, there are many awards that will be handed out, some more interesting than others, and within those awards, the voters like to arbitrarily impose restrictions on themselves and how they will vote. Player A can’t be MVP because his team didn’t win enough. Player B can’t be Cy Young because he didn’t have enough innings. Player C can’t be MVP because he’s a rookie and he’s already going to win the ROY. Player D can’t be Cy Young because he’s MVP and we have to give that to someone else. Player E was suspected by nameless rumormongers of taking steroids, or cheating on his taxes, or eating after midnight or Lord knows what else he may or may not have done. And then there are the voters who are either loony, file protest ballots, or are clearly biased as all hell. You know, that sort of thing. So with that in mind, Prof and I decided to take our collective swings at both a prediction and a opinion post to discuss who will ACTUALLY win and who SHOULD each of the major awards. We won’t go into some of the minor awards, because who really cares who won the Executive of the Year award in 2013, am I right? Feel free to tell us why we are wrong about both our picks and our predictions in the comments section! For those that don’t want to read all them words, there is a summary at the bottom of our picks.
AL Cy Young
Prof: For me, this is the most highest contested award of the season, purely because there are a lot of guys out there who are pitching well in the American League. I would have listed Zach Britton of the Orioles here, but it’s rare that anyone other than a starter gets the nod. Yeah, Eric Gagne won the award years ago, but baseball’s views on relief pitchers and closers has changed in the last twenty years. All of this in mind, here’s my short list.
- Rick Porcello
- J.A. Happ
- Justin Verlander
- Chris Sale
- Corey Kluber
The type of stuff that gets noticed for Cy are usually things like ERA, W/L, strikeout rate, things like that. All of the above candidates have one or more of the metrics that voters use to determine the winner swaying in their favor. For me, a Cy Young winner must be head and shoulders above his competition, someone who strikes fear in the hearts of the guys facing him. Someone who is a serious impact player for their team, someone who can almost be completely relied on. While all of these guys have one or more of those qualities, the only person I believe has most of them, even barring injury, and therefore can safely say is worthy of this year’s AL Cy Young is…
Prof Pick: Corey Kluber, Cleveland.
Scouts: Now, I know I’m what many would consider biased, but I do try my best to be as fair and impartial as possible. For my money however, I think that Zach Britton deserves this award. I never understood it when writers imposed silly, self-imposed restrictions on themselves for reasons unknown. The award is for the best pitcher in the league. Not the best starter, the best pitcher. And for my money, that award belongs to Zach Britton. Britton converted every single save opportunity he received this year. (47 for 47). The man has given up just 4 fucking runs this year. You can literally count them on one hand. And that number could have VERY easily have been 2. Nine relief pitchers have won the Cy Young since 1956. That number should be 10. Zach Britton has the lowest ERA of any relief pitcher EVER. (Minimum innings to qualify = 50.) In a season in where no AL starting pitcher stood out as having a terribly amazing season, the choice must be Zach Britton. Unfortunately, narrow-minded voters will knock him for his lack of innings, even-though he did his job better than anyone ever has done it before. (He lead the league in Win Probability Added, a statistic that shows how much a player affects the outcome of games.) Zach’s season was absolutely historic and it’s a real shame it still won’t be enough for the voters.
Scout Pick: Zach Britton, Baltimore
How I think the Voters (who will be wrong) will vote
- Rick Porcello, Boston
- Corey Kluber, Cleveland
- Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
- Justin Verlander, Detroit
- Zach Britton, Baltimore
NL Cy Young
Prof: This one isn’t as murky as the AL side, but it’s just as interesting.
- Kyle Hendricks
- Jon Lester
- Max Scherzer
- Jose Fernandez
Here, we have two teammates, a guy who has been great but somehow still under the radar, and a man who (sadly) might have sympathy and a sense of mourning on voters’ minds. All four had excellent seasons, with outrageous ERAs, strikeout rates, and other factors. If you belong to the mindset that Hendricks and Lester will split the vote because they are both on the Cubs, much like people believe that Kershaw and Greinke split the vote last year, then the clear winner in that case would probably be Mad Max. However, remember my criteria from above – head and shoulders above the rest, strikes fear in the heart of the opposing team, and can be utterly reliable. For me this year, that pitcher is the guy with a fine w/L, and a ridiculous ERA. That pitcher has been the person that I believe will end up being the NL Cy Young winner –
Prof Pick: Kyle Hendricks, Chicago.
Scouts: Clayton Kershaw had this award all locked up and had to go and make things complicated by getting hurt. Thanks for nothing guy! Kyle Hendricks has every right to this award but I have to wonder if he won’t be hampered by Jon Lester and even Jake Arrieta. Max Scherzer ended up with 20 wins, and you know how much
old people voters love the win statistic. Scherzer also led in WAR for Pitchers, although I think that’s a pretty terrible stat at the moment. Additionally, Scherzer led in WHIP and was third in K/9. In the end I think Scherzer who may not have had the best season will end up walking away with the hardware. Jose Fernandez will get a few sentimental 3rd place votes.
Scout Pick: Kyle Hendricks, Chicago
How I think the voters will vote
- Max Scherzer
- Kyle Hendricks
- Jose Fernandez
- Jon Lester
Prof: Let’s be real here. It ought to be Mike Trout. As I mentioned to someone in the comments (I think it was Stex?), Mike Trout isn’t a normal human being. It’s unfair to everyone else to be put up against him. However, this goes toward the old argument of is this the most valuable to the team, or the most outstanding player in the league? Trout is always the most outstanding player in the AL. There’s no question, there’s no contest. But the Angels suck. Hardly ever does the MVP come from a team that is in the tank. So sadly, we have to rule Mike Trout out of contention. That leaves my short list:
- Jose Altuve
- Josh Donaldson
- Mookie Betts
- Manny Machado
Which one of these guys is the most important to his team while also being ridiculously good at what he does? Who is having a banner year? For me, personally, there’s only one guy on this list that I can look at and say he had the most impact on his team and across the league. My choice for AL MVP is…
Prof Pick: Jose Altuve, Houston.
Scouts: This one will be fun. Want a quick measure to see who deserves to be removed from voting rights? See who picks David Ortiz for MVP. (Here’s a hint, he wasn’t even the MVP of his own team.) Yet, Ortiz will get a ton of votes, for reasons I will never understand. You know who won’t get the votes they deserve? Mike Trout. Because once again, voters like to self impose restrictions on themselves for reason passing understanding. The MVP can’t be a player who was on a terrible team. Why? Because we said so that’s why! You see, it says so right there in that imaginary fine print. For my money, I would be happy with either Jose Altuve or Mike Trout. Neither will get the votes.
Scouts Pick: Mike Trout
Here’s how I think the vote will shake out
- Mookie Betts
- Jose Altuve
- Manny Machado
- Josh Donaldson
- David Ortiz
Prof: This one is near impossible for me, but I’ll try. My homerism is gonna show, because there’s three names you will agree with and one you might not.
- Kris Bryant
- Anthony Rizzo
- Nolan Arenado
- Freddie Freeman
Ok, Prof, Freddie? Listen, guys, Freddie might have been on a historically bad Braves team, but he had a hell of a season. Freeman was voted NL player of the week three times, and his stats are as good as almost anyone else on this list. For nearly the entire first half of the season, Freddie was the ONLY thing that kept the Braves from losing every single game they played. But, sadly, Freeman did play for a horrible team, and the MVP from a crappy team is rare. So even though I think Freddie is worthy of consideration, he’s not going to get it.
My vote is for the guy who is on a winning team, who is valuable at the plate and in the field, who is the heart of his team. My choice is…
Prof Pick: Anthony Rizzo, Chicago.
Scouts: We all know to what city the award is going, but we don’t know which player will be getting it. I’m not as versed in the NL as Prof is, but after reviewing the statistics all morning, I’m going to have to go with Kris Bryant for MVP, although I could see the argument for Rizzo. Bryant leads the two in WAR, HR, Slugging, OPS, and quite a few more categories. I do think that Freeman will get more love than Prof thinks he will. He did have a crazy great season on a terrible team and that’ll be worth a few 3rd place votes.
Scouts Pick: Kris Bryant, Chicago
How I think they will vote
- Bryant, Chicago
- Rizzo, Chicago
- Arenado, Colorado
- Freeman, Atlanta
Prof: As you know, I’m not really a big AL person, but there’s a couple of names I can throw out here.
- Tyler Naquin
- Michael Fulmer
- Gary Sanchez
All three are worthy of the title. You could pick any of them and not be wrong. All three have improved their teams tremendously and have bright futures ahead, but I’ll choose the one that I think will continue to be a game changer for his team.
Prof Pick: Gary Sanchez, New York
Scouts: It’s a pretty short list for AL ROY. Michael Fulmer is by far and away the best candidate for the award, however you can’t ever forget the power of the Boston/New York media vote. Sanchez got a lot of hype (deservedly so) however he showed up a little too late to the scene for my vote. Tyler Naquin spent all season in Cleveland so no one knows who he is. I’d demand a trade if I were him. I hear the Cubs are looking for outfield help.
Scout Pick: Michael Fulmer, Detroit
How I think they will vote:
- Michael Fulmer, Detroit
- Gary Sanchez, Yankees
- Tyler Naquin, Indians
Prof: There’s really only one choice for NL Rookie of the Year. I suppose there’s other people in the running but…
- Trevor Story
- Corey Seager
- Steven Matz
I’m sorry, but there’s only one guy on this list that you can set your laser sights on. A guy who day in and day out makes his team better, who would be an asset to any team he played for. A guy who plays like an All Star in almost every game. He’s like Kris Bryant last year in that regard. To me, there’s only one choice.
Profs Pick: Corey Seager, Los Angeles
Scouts: I’m man enough to admit I don’t really know enough about these players, so I’m sure I’m wrong on all accounts. The one thing I do know is Trevor Story was one hell of a lot of fun to begin the season, so I’m going to go ahead and pick him. Corey Seager is probably the better vote, but I want the Story.
Scouts pick: Trevor Story, Colorado
How I think they will pick:
- Corey Seager, Los Angeles
- Trevor Story, Colorado
- Steven Matz, Mets
- Aledmys Diaz, Cardinals
I Got No Time To Read All That!
- AL MVP – Corey Kluber, Cleveland
- NL MVP – Kyle Hendricks, Chicago
- AL CY Young – Jose Altuve, Houston
- NL CY Young – Anthony Rizzo, Chicago
- AL ROY – Gary Sanchez, New York
- NL ROY – Corey Seager, Dodgers
- AL Cy Young – Zach Britton, Baltimore
- NL Cy Young – Kyle Hendricks, Chicago
- AL MVP – Mike Trout, Los Angeles
- NL MVP – Kris Bryant, Chicago
- AL ROY – Michael Fulmer, Detroit
- NL ROY – Trevor Story, Colorado