The awards are going to be, um, awarded as usual despite the season being only 60 games due to the pandemic. Yesterday the BBWAA announced the finalists for each.
Without further ado, here they are, with my hypothetical vote:
DJ LeMahieu, Yankees. The second baseman tied for the AL WAR lead (all stats are pulled from BBR) with 2.8. His .364 batting average, .421 OBP, and 177 OPS+ all lead the league too. He slugged .590 with 10 homers.
Jose Abreu, White Sox. He also had 2.8 WAR. His 19 homers were second in the AL (Luke Voit, Yankees, 22). He hit .317/.370/.617 (the slugging percentage led the league), OPS+ 166.
Jose Ramirez, Indians. He didn’t get traded. His WAR was 2.2, with 17 homers. He hit .292/.366/.607, OPS+ 163.
My vote is LeMahieu. The Yankees presented him a QO, but it’ll cost them a lot more than $18.9 million for one year to keep him—or any other team to sign him. Great timing to have an MVP-caliber year heading into free agency.
Moodier Betts, Dodgers. He’s looking to join Frank Robinson as only the second player to win the MVP in both leagues. Robinson won the NL award in 1961 with the Reds and 1966 AL award with the Orioles. Betts led all of MLB for position players with 3.4 WAR. He hit 16 homers, .292/.366/.562 with a 149 OPS+.
Freddie Freeman, Braves. As we all know, he first had to overcome COVID-19; as we also know, he wasn’t one of the lucky ones without symptoms or only minor illness. Overcome he did, though. He was second in MLB with 2.9 WAR. He hit .341/.462/.640 with a 186 OPS+…each of those were second to Juan Soto of the Nationals, who somehow is not a finalist.
Manny Machado, Padres. The Padres front office is happier about their $300M expenditure on him this year. He had 2.8 WAR, 17 homers, and hit .304/.370/.580 with a 158 OPS+.
For much of the short season, Fernando Tatis, Jr was thought to be a favorite. He did finish with a very good year but just short of the level of the three finalists with 2.5 WAR, 17 homers, .277/.366/.571 and a 155 OPS+.
Betts might well win, but I’d vote Freeman.
AL Cy Young:
Shane Bieber, Indians. He led all MLB pitchers in WAR (3.3), wins (8, tied with Yu Darvish’s), ERA (1.63), strikeouts (122), K/9 (14.2), ERA+ (281), FIP (2.07).
Kenta Maeda, Twins. The ex-Dodger kept Bieber from a total stat sweep with an MLB-leading 0.750 WHIP. He went 6-1, ERA 2.70, ERA+ 161, 10.8 K/9.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, Buffalo Blue Jays. Another ex-Dodger, he went 5-2, ERA 2.69, ERA+ 164, 9.7 K/9.
My vote—Bieber will win unanimously and deserves to do so.
NL Cy Young:
Trevor Bauer, Reds. Another player who picked a good time for his best season, heading into free agency. He has stated in the past he wants to go year to year with his contracts. We will see. Anyway, he led the NL with a 1.73 ERA, 276 ERA+, 0.795 WHIP. His K/9 was 12.3. His win/loss was 5-4, for what it’s worth.
Jacob DeGrom, Mets. He could become the third pitcher to win three straight Cy’s, joining Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson. He led the NL wait 104 K’s and 13.9 K/9. He went 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA, 178 ERA+, and a 0.956 WHIP.
Yu Darvish, Cubs. He went 8-3, tying Shane Bieber with the most wins in MLB. He had a 2.01 ERA, 221 ERA+, 0.961 WHIP, and 11.0 K/9.
Not finalists—Max Fried (7-0, 2.25 ERA, 212 ERA+, 1.089 WHIP, 8.0 K/9) and Clayton Kershaw (6-2, 2.16 ERA, 196 ERA+, 0.840 WHIP, 9.6 K/9). Each missed a start or two, which probably cost them.
My vote: Bauer. I’ll be unsurprised if DeGrom wins though.
AL Manager of the Year:
The finalists are Kevin Cash of the Rays, Charlie Montoyo of the Blue Jays, and Rick Renteria of the White Sox. MoY awards are built almost completely on narrative. The team out-performing expectations is the main way to get votes. Each of the three finalists can claim that at least to an extent. I think Cash will win, though, as most pundits had the Yankees the division favorite preseason, and the Rays dominated them en route to the league’s best record. I love it that the now-fired ChiSox manager is on this list though.
NL Manager of the Year:
The finalists are David Ross of the Cubs, Don Mattingly of the Marlins, and Jayce Tingler of thePadres. Ross is popular, but the Cubs being good wasn’t really a surprise. The Padres were not expected to be arguably the second best team in the NL although they were expected to improve. Nobody, though, saw the Marlins overcoming a coronavirus outbreak on the team and making the playoffs. I’d have voted for Dave Roberts, but he’s not a finalist. I’m pretty sure Mattingly gets to make room for a trophy on his mantle.
AL Rookie of the Year:
This one is usually the hardest for me. Cristian Javier of the Astros went 5-2 with a 3.48 ERA, 129 ERA+, and 0.994 WHIP to help his team get to the playoffs despite losing Verlander to TJS. Kyle Lewis of Seattle hit 11 homers, .262/.364/.427 with a 126 OPS+. Luis Robert of the White Sox also hit 11 homers, .233/.302/.438 with a 101 ERA+. He, however, was excellent defensively. (He just became the first rookie since 1970 to win a gold glove.) I was asked if I thought Randy Arozarena would be a contender here—I correctly predicted “no.” He missed the first month of the season due to the coronavirus. He played great, but he only played 23 games, just not enough. I’d vote Javier.
NL Rookie of the Year:
Alec Bohm only played 44 games but hit .338/.400/.481. Jake Cronenworth played 10 more games and hit .285/.354/.477. Devin Williams, a reliever, in 27 IP went 4-1 with a 0.33 ERA. Other absurd numbers that would not hold up in a regular, full season: 0.630 WHIP, 17.7 K/9. My bias would lean toward voting for Cronenworth, but I think Bohm will win.