The 2018 MLB Awards: Who’s in and who’s going to win?

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          Since today is all about getting out there to vote, I wanted to take a look at all the finalists for the Baseball Writers Association of America awards and share with you how I would vote, and who I think will walk away with some new hardware. Starting next Monday, each award will be announced each day with Rookie of the Year coming Monday, Manager of the Year coming Tuesday, Cy Young on Wednesday, and MVP on Thursday. Some of my picks have changed since my last predictions back in September, but I am confident this time I have picked all the winners. 

Index: HR = Homeruns ; avg = Batting Average ; RBI = Runs Batted In ; OBP = On Base Percentage ; SLG = Slugging Percentage ; 2B = Doubles ; WAR = Wins Above Replacement ; ERA = Earned Run Average ; K’s = Strikeouts ; QS = Quality Starts WHIP = Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched ; IP = Innings Pitched

           The Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award

AL Finalist:

Miguel Andujar, 3B, NYY – .297 avg, 27 HR’s, 92 RBI’s, 47 2B’s, 2.2 WAR

Shohei Ohtani, P/DH, LAA – .285 avg, 22 HR’s, 61 RBI’s / 4-2, 3.31 ERA, 63 K’s, 3.9 WAR

Gleyber Torres, 2B/SS NYY – .271 avg, 24 HR’s, 77 RBI’s, 2.9 WAR, All Star Selection

NL Finalist:

Ronald Acuna Jr., – ATL .293 avg, 26 HR’s, 64 RBI’s, .552 SLG, 4.1 WAR

Walker Buehler, LAD – 8-5, 2.62 ERA, 151 K’s, 0.961 WHIP, 3.5 WAR

Juan Soto, WAS – .292 avg, 22 HR’s, 70 RBI’s, .406 OBP, 3.0 WAR

Winners: Shohei Ohtani, LAA and Ronald Acuna Jr, ATL

          In the American League, I have Shohei Ohtani winning the AL Rookie of the year by a landslide. What both Torres and Andujar did this season was fantastic. They became the 1st pair of Yankee rookie teammates to have 20+ homeruns each in their rookie season. Andujar broke Joe Dimaggio’s yankee rookie record for most doubles in a season with 47 doubles in his rookie year, while Torres made the AL All Star team, the only rookie to do so in the AL. While all of that is incredible for a rookie to accomplish, Ohtani did something that had not been seen in baseball in almost 100 years, and that was start as a pitcher and a position player, and excel at both positions. Ohtani became the 1st player since Babe Ruth to hit 10 or more homeruns and pitch 50+ innings in the same season.The same day he was told he would need to have Tommy John surgery and not be able to pitch the rest of 2018, Ohtani went 4-4 with 2 homeruns in an Angels win. If you do something that has not been done in 100 years, and you do it as well as Ohtani did, you deserve to be Rookie of the Year.

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          In the National League, I have Ronald Acuna Jr winning by a slim margin over Juan Soto, and Walker Buehler finishing a close 3rd. All 3 of these finalists could win this award. Buehler had the lowest ERA among rookies and his WHIP would have been 4th best in baseball if he had enough innings pitched. Juan Soto had one of the best seasons of all time for a teenager, and developing a reputation for having incredible plate discipline for someone his age. Acuna however set the Braves franchise record for most leadoff homeruns in a season with 8 and after he returned from the DL, he was one of the leading forces in getting the Atlanta Braves to their 1st playoff appearance in 5 years. Acuna also played a high level of defense, and lead all rookies in Wins Above Replacement. These 3 players have extremely high ceilings and will win more awards throughout each of their careers.
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                                     Manager of the Year

AL Finalist:

Kevin Cash, TBR – 90-72 3rd in AL East

Alex Cora, BOS – 108-54 1st in AL East, AL Champion, World Series Champion

Bob Melvin, OAK – 97-65 2nd in AL West, 2nd AL Wild Card

NL Finalist:

Bud Black, COL – 91-72 2nd in NL West, 2nd NL Wild Card

Craig Counsell, MIL – 96-67 1st in NL Central

Brian Snitker, ATL – 90-72 1st in NL East

Winners: Bob Melvin, OAK and Craig Counsell, MIL

          In the American League, Alex Cora had one of the greatest seasons for a rookie manager in the history of baseball. He lead the Red Sox to a franchise record 108 wins, and their 4th World Series title in 15 years. The reason I wouldn’t vote for Cora however, is the fact that his team was predicted to win the AL East, and had one of the best odds to win the World Series all year long. I would vote for Bob Melvin as manager of the year. At the begging of the year, the A’s had just a 9% chance to make the playoffs, while boasting the lowest payroll in baseball. The A’s were 34-36 on June 15th, the proceeded to finish the year 63-29, and at one point were tied with the defending champion Houston Astros for 1st place in the AL West. Kevin Cash was equally impressive using just 1 starting pitcher, lots of bullpen pitchers, and the 2nd lowest payroll in baseball to make a charge at the playoffs at the end of the year, but I would give the edge to Melvin for this one, simply because if I had told you the A’s would win 97 games this year, you would have questioned my knowledge of baseball.

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          In the National League, I have Craig Counsell just edging out Brian Snitker for the award. Counsell turned the Brewers into a serious contender, and was able to get the best out of his team when it mattered most. The Brewers won their final 8 games of the year to force a game 163 with the Cubs in Chicago. The Brewers stunned the Cubs by winning that play-in game, finishing with the best record in the NL, and making a run all the way to game 7 on the NLCS. Counsell managed an incredible bullpen, and turned the Brewers into serious contenders. Snitker on the other hand got the Braves to the playoffs a year ahead of when everyone else had projected. He managed a team of young rookies and old veterans and turned them into an extremely solid national league team that beat out the Nationals and Phillies who were on their tail most of the year. Bud Black finally got the pitching right in Colorado, and got his team to a game 163 with the Dodgers, however the Rockies could not come through when it mattered most and were swept out of the playoffs by the Brewers. Before that, Black had his team in a position to win the NL West fo the first time in franchise history all the way up till the last 3 days of the year. 

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                                        CY Young Award

Index: WAR = Wins Above Replacement ; ERA = Earned Run Average ; K’s = Strikeouts ; QS = Quality Starts WHIP = Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched ; IP = Innings Pitched

AL Finalist:

Corey Kluber, RHP, CLE – 20-7, 2.89 ERA, 215 IP, 222 K’s, 5.8 WAR

Blake Snell, LHP, TBR – 21-5, 1.89 ERA, 180.2 IP, 221 K’s, 7.5 WAR

Justin Verlander, RHP, HOU – 16-9, 2.52 ERA, 214 IP, 290 K’s, 6.3 WAR

NL Finalist:

Jacob DeGrom, RHP, NYM – 10-9, 1.70 ERA, 217 IP, 260 K’s, 10 WAR

Aaron Nola, RHP, PHI – 17-6, 2.36 ERA, 212.1 IP, 224 K’s, 10 WAR

Max Scherzer, RHP, WAS – 18-7, 2.53 ERA, 220.2 IP, 300 K’s, 9.5 WAR

Winners: Blake Snell, LHP, TBR and Jacob DeGrom, RHP, NYM

          Blake Snell quietly dominated this year and nobody seemed to realize it till the end of the year. Snell won 21 games while pitching primarily in the AL East, which many people thought to be the best hitting division in all of baseball. Snell was also the only true starter on his team towards the end of the year, as the Rays focused mainly on using bullpen pitchers to start and finish games. Snell lead all AL pitchers in wins, ERA, and WAR, and at times his curveball was nearly un-hitable. Kluber had another typical solid Kluber year posting 20 wins, 200+ strikeouts, and a sub 3.00 ERA, however his division was not nearly as tough to pitch in as Snell’s. Verlander has saved his career in Houston and put up some of his best numbers since his CY Young/MVP year of 2011. He lead the AL in strikeouts, but he had lots of help from an extremely powerful line up and other dominate pitchers behind him. All 3 were great but Snell was by far the best in the AL.

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         Jacob DeGrom had one of the best seasons of all time this year. While his 10-9 record does not reflect that, DeGrom threw a quality starts in 28/32 starts this year. If the Mets had scored just 4 runs in each of those games, DeGrom would have been 28-0 on the year. DeGrom lead baseball in ERA with a 1.70 ERA, one of the best in recent years, and absolutely dominated hitters every time he took the field. Nola broke out this year and his 2.36 ERA was good for 2nd in the NL and he was tied with DeGrom for the best WAR of any NL starting pitcher. He lead a Phillies pitching staff that helped Philly stay in the race all the way till September. Scherzer was as good as ever, posting his 1st 300 strikeout season of his career. Scherzer also added another 20 strikeout game to his impressive resume and had a good egnough season to win his 3rd straight Cy Young. Scherzer, however, was not able to help his team get back to the postseason, and a few poor starts at the end of the year is why I would choose Degrom over him. DeGrom should win by a landslide, however I think it will be closer than many people think between him and Scherzer due to his record and strikeouts.

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Index: HR = Homeruns ; avg = Batting Average ; RBI = Runs Batted In ; OBP = On Base Percentage ; SLG = Slugging Percentage ; 2B = Doubles ; WAR = Wins Above Replacement ; SB = Stolen Bases

AL Finalist:

Mookie Betts, OF, BOS – .346 avg, 32 HR’s, 80 RBI’s, 30 SB’s, .640 SLG, 10.9 WAR

Jose Ramirez, 2B/3B, CLE – .270 avg, 35 HR’s, 105 RBI’s, 34 SB’s, .522 SLG, 7.9 WAR

Mike Trout, OF/DH, LAA – .312 avg, 39 HR’s, 79 RBI’s, .460 OBP, .628 SLG, 10.2 WAR

NL Finalist:

Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL – .297 avg, 38 HR’s, 110 RBI’s, .561 SLG, 5.6 WAR,

Javier Baez, 2B,SS,3B, CHC – .290 avg, 34 HR’s, 111 RBI’s, .554 SLG, 6.3 WAR,

Christian Yelich, OF, MIL –  .326 avg, 36 HR’s, 110 RBI’s, .598 SLG, 7.6 WAR

Winners: Mookie Betts, OF, BOS and Christian Yelich, OF, MIL

          Originally I had Alex Bregman winning this award, however after watching the last month of the season, and really looking into the numbers, it was clear that Mookie Betts was the best player in baseball. While many people were upset that his teammate JD Martinez was left out of the mix for MVP, defense matters more than ever, and JD played just 57 games in the field. Betts lead baseball in batting average and slugging percentage, and became a member of the 30/30 club, (30 HR’s 30 SB’s). To go along with an incredible offensive year, Betts was a gold glove caliber right fielder with limitless range and a cannon for an arm in right field. Trout will finish a closer 2nd than many people think. If you look at his numbers, Trout had the best statistical year of his career so far with career bests in walks, On Base Percentage, On Base Plus Slugging, and OPS+. Trout also becomes just the 3rd player in MLB history to finish in the top 3 of the MVP voting 6 times in a 7 year stretch. While his numbers are great, since we expect so much of Trout, and the fact his team did not make the playoffs hurts his chances. Ramirez had another fantastic season, also joining the 30/30 club along with Betts. Ramirez was one of a handful of players to have more walks than strikeouts, and was versatile egnough to play 2 different infield positions for his team. Due to the fact that his end of the year slump that dropped his average nearly 30 points makes it too tough to compete with the other finalists. Betts wins but Trout finishes a close 2nd. 

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          The National League is going to be a close race for MVP, however it was the last 2 weeks of the season the helped sway me towards Christian Yelich. Yelich was 1 RBI and 2 HR’s short of becoming the 1st player since Miguel Cabrera in 2013 to win the Triple Crown award. Yelich also lead the NL in WAR, Average, Slugging, and OPS. Yelich tore it up at the end of the year, and was the leader of a Brewers team that took a gigantic step forward and upset the Cubs in Wrigley to win the NL Central on the final day of the year. Speaking of the Cubs, Javy Baez will come in 2nd for this award. Baez lead the NL in RBI’s, made his 1st all star team, and kept the Cubs relevant all year, but slowed down towards the end of the year when his team needed him most. Arenado will once again loose this award, even after having another fantastic season. Since 2015, he has finished in the top 3 in both homeruns and RBI’s while also winning the last 6 (including this years) gold glove awards at 3rd base. There are some questions marks around Arenado’s production as he has spent his career playing at Coors Field, (known as the most hitter friendly ballpark in baseball), but this guy is a stud on both sides and will one day win this award. For this year though, Yelich was the best player on the best team in the National League and will walk away with the MVP trophy.

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Do you agree with my picks? Do you think somebody else should win one of these awards? Leave a comment on this article and tell me why I am wrong. Id be happy to back up any of my picks. Thanks for Reading!

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