We at Phillies 101 had an idea. Don’t be scared – this idea was actually a good one. As most of you know, we are part of a larger organization of sports-based web sites known as Sports Media 101. I contacted fellow editors throughout the organization and asked for their input on Major League Baseball’s award races. Below, you will find the results. Each person submitted three players (for most categories, some, like AL Rookie of the Year, don’t warrant that kind of attention). First place got a player three points, second place got them two…and you get it.
Buckle up! This might take a minute. Oh, and one more thing – because this is going up on Phillies 101, my input is first, followed by (credited) input from all the other sites!
All statistics are through Friday, September 28, 2012 and are courtesy of baseball-reference.com
American League MVP
1. Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers
.327/.392/.602, 40 2B, 0 3B, 42 HR, 133 RBI, 107 R, 65 BB, 4 SB (1 CS), 165 OPS+, 6.6 WAR
About a month ago, I would have told you that this was Mike Trout’s race to lose. According to our voting (and public sentiment), he lost it. There’s a reason that no one has won a Triple Crown since 1967 – it’s because it’s damn hard to do. Cabrera has a real shot at doing it this year. At the time of this article, he’s winning the batting average race by .002, tied for the lead in home runs with Josh Hamilton (43) and one ahead of Edwin Encarnacion, and leading RBIs by 10. The last game is played Wednesday and, unless Miggy goes 0-27 in that time frame, he’s going to win the MVP for the American League.
I don’t want to say I told you so, So I’ll let Chris Ruck (Yankees 101) tell you –“The Tigers currently find themselves in a tie for first in the AL Central, and this man has a legitimate shot at the Triple Crown; a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 1967 by Carl Yastrzemski. Enough said.”
2. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
.321/.393/.555, 25 2B, 7 3B, 29 HR, 79 RBI, 125 R, 64 BB, 47 SB (4 CS), 167 OPS+, 10.5 WAR
Trout’s season has been nothing to scoff at. He’s had the best season by a rookie, ever. You could make arguments against that last statement, but think about how good pitching is all over baseball right now. If you don’t believe me, wait until we get to the Cy Young races – there’s a lot of deserving guys. Trout doesn’t hit for the same kind of power as Cabrera, but voters may surprise us and give him more votes than we expect – he did steal 47 bases in 51 attempts!
Or, you could think like Kevin Rodriguez (Mavericks 101) – “I have Trout in 3rd for MVP. I do not tend to agree that Mike Trout turned the Angels around when he was called up early in the season. A team with the pitching it has, including Cy Young candidate and 19-game winner Jared Weaver along with Albert Pujols and emerging star Mark Trumbo, was going to turn its season around, with or without Trout. Sure, Trout has made spectacular defensive plays, and he has incredible numbers for a rookie. However, I can only place him 3rd in the MVP race.”
3. Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers
.285/.357/.585, 29 2B, 2 3B, 43 HR, 125 RBI, 101 R, 60 BB, 7 SB (4 CS), 141 OPS+, 3.7 WAR
This is one of the few names that made the list that I don’t completely agree with, which is the beauty of having a vote. I don’t think Hamilton was even the most valuable player on his own team this year. I won’t claim to know who it was, but you could convince me. Is that line, outside of the home runs, really that impressive? Do you see that and think that he’s in the MVP discussion? You might, but I don’t. Maybe Justin Verlander? Or his Detroit counterpart, Mark Scherzer? Or any of the other ten pitchers that could win the Cy Young?
While we’re using my colleague’s opinions that make mine look dumb, let’s talk to Cody Fields (Braves 101) about Hamilton – “Hamilton always seem to miss around a month of the season, but he always puts up stupid numbers when he's in the lineup. Let's also not forget that four-homer game in May. Even with his injuries and off-field issues, he's one of the main reasons the Rangers have been so good the last few seasons.”
4. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/3B, Toronto Blue Jays
.284/.386/.563, 24 2B, 0 3B, 42 HR, 110 RBI, 92 R, 83 BB, 13 SB (3 CS), 154 OPS+, 4.8 WAR
Or, maybe instead of a pitcher, it should be Encarnacion. He’s got a better WAR and OPS+ – both stats that I hold in very high regard – but, unfortunately, his team didn’t contend. A few things stick out to me about Encarnacion, though. He’s never hit more than 26 home runs or stolen more than eight bases. Did he suddenly, at age 29, get that much better? I don’t like to talk about steroids, but with the recent problems, maybe we should think about it. Anyway, he got one third place vote.
National League MVP
1. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
.330/.403/.557, 28 2B, 6 3B, 30 HR, 93 RBI, 106 R, 68 BB, 20 SB (12 CS), 164 OPS+, 6.9 WAR
McCutchen didn’t get the most first place votes. He was the only person on every ballot that I received, though. It gave him a slight edge in the scoring over the next two guys. If any of these three guys win the National League MVP, I don’t think you’ll hear an argument. McCutchen couldn’t carry the Pirates any longer in the NL Central race, but his numbers are pretty great. I’m most impressed with his 30/20 HR/SB split.
Wayne Staich (Padres 101) made an arugment that I hadn’t considered – “Posey's overall numbers might be slightly better, but McCutchen has seven more HR's without the supporting cast that Posey has at his disposal.”
2. Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants
.334/.407/.544, 38 2B, 1 3B, 23 HR, 100 RBI, 76 R, 68 BB, 1 SB (1 CS), 170 OPS+, 6.7 WAR
Finishing only one point out of first place here probably means that we’re looking at the next NL MVP. The voters take a team’s record into account when voting for these awards and the Giants are heading to the playoffs with a good record. They have a good pitching staff and Posey was called on to catch that staff, to include Matt Cain’s perfect game. He’s coming off a horrific injury and he’s found a way to hit for decent power and have a .407 OBP. If you’re not impressed, you’re dumb and we can’t be friends.
If you don’t believe me, this is what Josh Meyers (Nationals 101) had to say: One of the best all around catchers in the game. He is running away with the NL batting title. Will be going back to the playoffs as NL West champs.
3. Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
.319/.391/.602, 35 2B, 3 3B, 41 HR, 112 RBI, 104 R, 61 BB, 30 SB (7 CS), 161 OPS+, 6.9 WAR
While we’re talking about guys making a comeback – here we are with Braun. He tested positive for PEDs during an MVP season in 2011 and I, for one, thought it might be the end for a talented guy. We all know how that ended, and he came back this season and put on a show. Most years, this is the MVP. In our voting, he’s third, and only two points behind first.
Like I said, this race was close. That’s evident when you consider Kevin Pulsifer’s (Cincinnati Reds 101) argument – “Last year, I feel that Kemp deserved this honor, his stats were far superior. But in 2012, no one can compare. Braun has 7 more homers than the runner-up, and also leads in RBI while hitting almost .320. Most years he would be the closest to a Triple Crown candidate in either league, but Cabrera has that taken care of.”
Others receiving votes: Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds; Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds
American League Cy Young
1. David Price, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
20-5 (.792), 2.56 ERA, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 204.0 IP, 57 BB, 201 K, 1.103 WHIP, 6.2 WAR
2. Jared Weaver, SP, Los Angeles Angels
20-4 (.833), 2.73 ERA, 3 CG, 2 SHO, 187.2 IP, 43 BB, 141 K, 1.002 WHIP, 3.8 WAR
3. Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers
16-8 (.667), 2.72 ERA, 6 CG, 1 SHO, 231.1 IP, 58 BB, 231 K, 1.063 WHIP, 7.1 WAR
Rather than write something about any of the starting pitchers listed here, I’m going to write about all three of them. Verlander finished third by a relatively bigger margin than I expected, but he was on almost every ballot. His record isn’t as dominant as last season, but the rest of his numbers aren’t too far off. On my ballot, he’d be coming in second, but he was third here. The other two guys on the list appear to be the favorites around baseball. I think that both of them have flaws. We’ll start with Price, though. He’s been dominant all season; winning 19 games and having a great ERA, low walk total, good WHIP. I’m not sure he’s been the best pitcher in the American League, though. He doesn’t pass the eye test. When he’s pitching, do you yell at someone for touching the remote? I don’t. Actually, that covered Price and Weaver. Moving on…
4. Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle Mariners
13-8 (.619), 2.86 ERA, 5 CG, 5 SHO, 226.2 IP, 53 BB, 216 K, 1.103 WHIP, 4.9 WAR
I know what you’re thinking, “Andy, why did you not include Hernandez above? He’s been dominant all season.” I completely agree, folks. However, he got one vote that didn’t belong to me. Let’s start at the beginning of his stat line and work our way through it while I tell you why King Felix is the Cy Young. His win/loss record isn’t very good, and you shouldn’t care any more than I do. His ERA is the highest on the list, but it’s still below three.
Now we can talk about the important parts. He’s got five complete game shutouts (most in the league), 216 strike outs, 226.2 innings pitched and only 53 walks! Oh! And that eye test we talked about before? There’s a reason that I mentioned it. When someone says, “Felix is on the mound,” you turn around, right? I do!
Just so you know I’m not crazy, Michael Timothy (BSU Broncos 101) agrees – “The Seattle Pitcher is one durable player. His record is not as impressive as others at 13-8 mostly because his team lacks run production. He has pitched 226 innings with 5 complete games 216 strikeouts and a 2.84 ERA. He also had a perfect game with three other shutouts.”
National League Cy Young
1. R.A. Dickey, SP, New York Mets
20-6 (.769), 2.69 ERA, 5 CG, 3 SHO, 227.2 IP, 54 BB, 222 K, 1.050 WHIP, 5.2 WAR
I thought that this race would be a lot closer than it turned out. R.A. Dickey sort of ran away with it. He got the most first place votes, by a landslide. If you look at his stat line, it’s easy to see why. We’ll talk about the problems I have with Gio Gonzalez shortly. First, though, Dickey.
He throws the knuckleball. That pitch, by definition, goes wherever the hell it wants when he lets it go. Let that sink and take a look at those numbers again. 54 walks over 227.2 innings when you’re throwing the knuckleball? He was in the zone for every pitch this season. Incredible and incredibly deserving of the Cy Young.
If you still don’t believe me, hear it from a Met’s fan named Kevin Pulsifer – “As a Mets fan, there may be a little bias. But he leads the NL in strikeouts, has 20 wins, and is second in ERA and WHIP. He has thrown 5 complete games, and has three shutouts, and for a month was one of the most dominant pitchers ever. He led the majors in quality starts and quality start percentage, so he was the workhorse and always kept his team in games. His average Gamescore was the highest in the league, and was top five in K/BB ratio in the majors, a stat Kershaw ranked 17th in.”
2. Gio Gonzalez, SP, Washington Nationals
21-8 (.724), 2.89 ERA, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 199.1 IP, 76 BB, 207 K, 1.129 WHIP, 4.6 WAR
Like I mentioned, I’m not a big Gonzalez fan. He didn’t crack 200 innings (and might not if he’s rested). He only threw one shutout. He walked 22 more batters than Dickey in 28 less innings. For some reason, their WARs were only 0.6 apart. Ask the Mets how many wins Dickey was worth this year over an average replacement – I bet they’d say 20. With the offense behind Gio, I’d say his 4.6 looks right.
That’s not to take anything away from a 21-game winner with a sub-3.00 ERA on the best team in baseball. I’m just saying that Dickey is more deserving.
3. Johnny Cueto, SP, Cincinnati Reds
19-9 (.679), 2.83 ERA, 2 CG, 0 SHO, 210.0 IP, 48 BB, 164 K, 1.176 WHIP, 5.5 WAR
Others receiving votes: Craig Kimbrel, CP, Atlanta Braves; Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers; Matt Cain, SP, San Francisco Giants
I can’t resist. Before I move on, I have to talk about Kimbrel. He probably won’t get more than two or three first place votes in the balloting this year, and that’s a shame. Dickey deserves to win this thing, but Kimbrel should be in the conversation. He had the most dominating season by a closer, ever. Look at his numbers, and tell me I’m wrong. Oh, and please, don’t tell me about Brad Lidge and his perfect 48 for 48 season. It wasn’t as good.
American League Rookie of the Year
1. Mike Trout , OF, Los Angeles Angels
I probably don’t need to go into this, do I?
Is there any doubt who the American League Rookie of the Year is? Absolutely not. Mike Trout leads all rookies in every offensive category and might be the most exhilarating player in baseball to watch. Not only is he an offensive juggernaut, he is an incredible defender”
2. Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Oakland A’s
.286/.347/495, 24 2B, 4 3B, 22 HR, 80 RBI, 65 R, 39 BB, 16 SB (3 CS), 132 OPS+, 2.9 WAR
3. Yu Darvish, SP, Texas Rangers
16-9 (.640), 3.90 ERA, 0 CG, 0 SHO, 184.2 IP, 88 BB, 214 K, 1.273 WHIP, 3.6 WAR
Others receiving votes: Scott Diamond, SP, Minnesota Twins; Ryan Cook, RP, Oakland Athletics
National League Rookie of the Year
1. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals
.266/.336/.468, 24 2B, 9 3B, 21 HR, 58 RBI, 95 R, 54 BB, 17 SB (6 CS), 115 OPS+, 4.5 WAR
I let my colleagues take it on the NL Rookie of the Year because I was getting ready to say mean things about them. I’m not sure how this vote turned out with Bryce Harper in first place, but it shouldn’t happen. Harper had a good season and he’s only 19 years old. I get it. He’s going to be a damn good baseball player if he can stay hungry for 18 more years. I was disappointed in some areas, though. He only stole 17 bases? With his speed, that number should be higher. Anyway, the second guy on our list is more deserving of this award. The third guy might be, too.
2. Wade Miley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
16-11 (.593), 3.32 ERA, 0 CG, 0SHO, 187.0 IP, 37 BB, 134 K, 1.198 WHIP, 3.2 WAR
The Diamondbacks won’t be making the playoffs, but Wade Miley was brilliant in his first major league season. His numbers aren’t Cy Young worthy, but he definitely out-pitched all of his peers and a lot of guys ahead of him. His 187 innings were a life-saver for the Dbacks, but it’s not the most impressive part. He only walked 37 batters in those innings – an incredible number.
3. Todd Frazier, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
.276/.334/.505, 26 2B, 6 3B, 19 HR, 66 RBI, 55 R, 35 BB, 3 SB (2 CS), 119 OPS+, 2.1 WAR
A lot of people thought that Votto’s injury would end the Reds run to the NL Central crown and the playoffs. They didn’t know who Frazier was, apparently. He stepped in and played magnificently in Votto’s place. So well that Votto’s long-term job at first might be in jeapordy. This kid needs to play baseball.
Others receiving votes: Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado Rockies; Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets
I’m going to let my Sports Media 101 colleagues break down the Manager of the Year races, too. There’s not a lot of question about who will win these things.
American League Manager of the Year
Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles
Kevin Rodriguez – “No one saw Baltimore making the playoffs this year, but the job Showalter has done has been stellar. He has his team poised for a wild card berth. He is a players’ manager who gets his guys to play hard for him. Matt Wieters has developed into one of the best catchers in the league, and Adam Jones might soon become an MVP candidate. With a rotation in shambles at times, Showalter has continued to get the best out of his starters. I give AL Manager of the Year to Showalter over guys like Chicago’s Robin Ventura and Texas’ Ron Washington.”
Bob Melvin, Oakland A’s
Robin Ventura, Chicago White Sox
National League Manager of the Year
Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals
Cody Fields – “Johnson does have a very talented club, but they were, by nearly all accounts, a couple years away from contending. Even through the controversial shutdown of Stephen Strasburg and handling the young Bryce Harper, Johnson has turned the Nats from a perennial bottom-dweller into what could be a contender for a long time to come.”
Dusty Baker, Cincinnati Reds
Others receiving votes: Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants; Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates; Fredi Gonzalez, Atlanta Braves
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