Now that the regular season is over, let’s take a look at the race for each MLB regular season award by projecting the three candidates and picking a winner.
*This is based on who I think should win the awards rather than what will most likely happen
AL Manager of the Year
Third: Alex Cora, Boston Red Sox (108-54)
Second: Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics (97-65)
First: Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays (90-72)
It may seem strange to think that the AL Manager of the Year’s team may have not made the playoffs, but it’s not like the Rays had a bad season for any means. In fact, they had a terrific season and overachieved by plenty. Despite trading away practically half of their team during the season, the Rays got better as the year went on. They went 41-25 in the second half, didn’t skip a beat when they traded away their former ace in Chris Archer, and prevailed despite fielding a team of castoffs. Melvin will most likely win this award for guiding the A’s to the playoffs despite not being expected to contend, but the A’s made several moves to make their team better at both the July and August trade deadlines. The talent difference between the A’s and Rays is enormous, so the fact that Tampa was just seven games worse is stunning. This award should go to who the best manager was, and it’s clear Cash was indeed the best manager in the AL this season.
NL Manager of the Year
Third: Bud Black, Colorado Rockies (91-72)
Second: Brain Snitker, Atlanta Braves (90-72)
First: Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers (96-67)
You can make cases for all three candidates, but Craig Counsell edges out Brian Snitker for one main reason – The Brewers went 19-7 in September and erased a five-game deficit in the NL Central and earned the top seed in the NL. Milwaukee’s September performance was spectacular and was a major product of Counsell’s genius. Despite having a lackluster rotation, Counsell managed his bullpen almost perfectly, which shows in their 33-19 record in one-run games. The icing on the cake was the Brewers going on the road into Chicago to win the tiebreaker game for the NL Central. Counsell trusted his gut and kept reliever Josh Hader, who’s stuff was practically unhittable, in for the 9th inning to record a two-inning save, which paid off. The Brewers are playing with a lot of fire and heart and it’s clear that Counsell is both an excellent game manager, but even more importantly, someone the players can rally around.
AL Rookie of the Year
Third: Joey Wendle, Tampa Bay Rays (.294/.345/.418, 9 HR, 4.3 WAR)
Second: Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees (.271/.340/.480, 24 HR, 2.9 WAR)
First: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (.285/.361/.564, 22 HR, 10 GS, 3.31 ERA, 3.9 WAR)
Let me start off by acknowledging the player who will finish in the Top 2 in Rookie of the Year voting, Miguel Andujar. Andujar has a .297 average with 27 home runs and 92 RBI, but he has just a .328 on-base percentage. To make matters worse, he has -25 drs at third base, and is a one-dimensional player. He’s not the best rookie on his own team, as Torres has a similar slash line and is a better defender. The undisputed rookie of the year should be Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani is a once in a lifetime player, as he pitched at a very high quality while also having the best offensive season of any of the rookies. Yes, he missed some time due to an elbow injury and only started ten games, but in reality, it’s just even more impressive he was able to put up those offensive numbers despite missing time. Don’t overthink this one; Ohtani is a transcendent two-way player who was the best rookie hitter and pitcher in the AL and it’s clear that he is by far the best rookie in the AL.
NL Rookie of the Year
Third: Jack Flaherty, St.Louis Cardinals (3.34 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 3.86 FIP)
Second: Juan Soto, Washington Nationals (.292/.406/.517, 22 HR, 3.0 WAR)
First: Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves (.293/.366/.552, 26 HR, 4.1 WAR)
For a while, this looked to be a race for the ages between Soto and Acuna. However, Acuna’s late surge proved that he was the better player this year, thus proving he was deserving of the NL Rookie of the Year award. He contributed in all elements for the Braves, hitting for contact and power, while also stealing 16 bases and playing also solid defense (4 drs). It can be debated over which of the two phenoms will have better long-term success, but it’s clear Acuna was the best rookie in the NL this season.
AL Cy Young
Third: Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians (2.21 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 2.44 FIP)
Second: Justin Verlander, Houston Astros (2.52 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 2.78 FIP)
First: Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays (1.89 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 2.95 FIP)
It seemed at the All-Star Break that Chris Sale was going to run away with the AL Cy Young, but that didn’t happen. Sale dealt with a shoulder injury, while Blake Snell broke out. The 25-year-old had to be named an alternate just to make the All-Star Team, despite having a 2.27 ERA in the first half. He has responded with a 1.17 ERA in the second half and seemed to get better as the season progressed, contradictory to any of the other candidates for the AL Cy Young. Snell’s peripherals are also amazing, as he’s strikeout batters at an elite clip (11 K/9) while limiting the walks (3.2 BB/9). His 5.6 H/9 is also the best in the MLB and he finished 10th in HR/9. Snell is clearly the best pitcher in the AL, and he deserves the recognition he sometimes fails to get because he plays for the small market Rays.
NL Cy Young
Third: Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies (2.37 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 3.01 FIP)
Second: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals (2.53 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 2.65 FIP)
First: Jacob deGrom, New York Mets (1.70 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 1.99 FIP)
For some reason, some believe Jacob deGrom doesn’t deserve the CY Young Award because of his lackluster 10-9 record. What they fail to realize is that deGrom never gave up more than four runs a game, and did everything in his power to guide his team to victory. Rather than penalizing him for being a member of the Mets, he should be rewarded for what was a historic season. deGrom led the league in ERA, HR/9, FIP, ERA+, among others. He had a K-BB ratio of 5.85, which is incredible. He is the best pitcher in the MLB and produced stellar numbers in every category. Jacob deGrom not winning the NL Cy Young Award would be a catastrophic disaster for the game of baseball.
Third: JD Martinez, Boston Red Sox (.330/.402/629, 43 HR, 6.4 WAR)
Second: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (.312/460/.628, 39 HR, 10.2 WAR)
First: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox (.346/.438/.640, 32 HR, 10.9 WAR)
The best hitter in the American League is JD Martinez, which may result in him earning MVP votes. However, this award isn’t about who is the most valuable hitter, but rather who the most valuable player is. That player is Martinez’s teammate, Mookie Betts. Betts had a historic season, leading the MLB in batting average and WAR. To go along with the batting title and a 1.078 OPS, Betts also stole 30 bases and had 20 defensive runs saved. Betts is the definition of a five-tool player and not only was he the best player in the American League, but he was also the best player in the entire league this season.
Third: Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee Brewers (.308/.395/.417, 10 HR, 6.9 WAR)
Second: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves (.308/.388/.505, 23 HR, 6.1 WAR)
First: Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers (.326/.402/.598, 36 HR, 7.6 WAR)]
Let me start off by acknowledging Javier Baez, who is getting way to much hype as an MVP candidate. The Cubs second baseman did hit .290 with 34 home runs, but his on-base percentage was remarkably low at .326, while his strikeouts (167) were a concern to along with his refusal to take his walks. (29) Cain and Freeman are solid candidates, but the clear deserving winner of the NL MVP is Christian Yelich. Yelich had a breakout year in his first season as a Brewer and his hot performance down the stretch led them to win the NL Central and obtain the number one seed. He almost won the triple crown, stole 22 bases, and led the NL WAR. He was the best player, best hitter, and the most impactful player in the NL, making this a very easy selection.