Yesterday was my playoff preview, which you can read here. Today, we discuss who I think should win the major awards in baseball, as well as a few that aren’t technically real awards. Some are obvious (AL Rookie of the Year), some are not (NL MVP). Without further ado, let’s begin.
AL MVP: Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros
Jose Altuve has been a front-runner for AL MVP the last 3 years. (photo credit: Grantland)
This was a tough one, as Yankees right fielder and rookie sensation Aaron Judge has been unbelievable this season (more on him later). But Jose Altuve has been the catalyst for arguably the best team in baseball and has been doing so at a steady pace throughout the season. He hit .346 this year with 24 home runs, 81 RBI, and 32 stolen bases to go along with 112 runs scored. In addition to his offensive prowess, he has also been an excellent defender at a premium position and is a menace on the basepaths. You could also argue that nobody is more important to his team. Altuve is what makes the Astros go and he has been doing this for quite some time now. It’s time he gets the recognition he deserves.
Others receiving consideration: Aaron Judge, RF, New York Yankes; Corey Kluber, P, Cleveland Indians; Jose Ramirez, UTIL, Cleveland Indians
NL MVP: Charlie Blackmon, CF, Colorado Rockies
Charlie Blackmon put on perhaps his finest performance in 2017 (photo credit: The Denver Post)
This was one of the toughest decisions I had to make. You would need three or four hands to count how many guys could feasibly win MVP in the NL this season. There’s Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins, whose 59 home runs captivated the nation. There’s Nolan Arenado of the Rockies, whose defensive wizardry and capacity for driving in runs was a sight to behold. Joey Votto did things human beings shouldn’t be allowed to do.
But Charlie Blackmon, Arenado’s teammate, has to be my pick here. He hit .331 with 37 home runs, 104 RBI, 137 runs scored and slugged .601. All out of the leadoff spot in the lineup. He made the Rockies prolific offense go and Arenado doesn’t lead the Majors in RBI for most of the season without Blackmon at the top of this lineup. Blackmon even drove in 100 runs himself out of the leadoff spot, something unheard of throughout the history of the game. Blackmon’s 104 RBI is actually a Major League record for a guy who primarily batted leadoff. Blackmon does it all for this Rockies team that finds itself in a playoff spot for the first time since 2009.
Others receiving consideration: Giancarlo Stanton, RF, Miami Marlins; Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies; Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds; Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks; Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals
AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians
Corey Kluber has been absolutely dominant down the stretch (photo credit: Chicago Tribune)
Yes, I wrote a blog saying that Chris Sale should win the award. But that was before delving into their September stats. In September, Sale’s ERA was 3.72, with 3 games giving up at least 3 runs and 2 games where he gave up 0. His inconsistency this month forced me to drop him from the race. Kluber, on the other hand, has only gotten hotter. His September ERA was 0.84, allowing all of 4 earned runs through the entire month. Sale allowed 4 runs on 2 separate occasions in September. It’s tough to pick against a guy who struck out 308 batters, but his inconsistency when the other guy was as dominant as ever is hard to overlook.
Others receiving consideration: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
Max Scherzer seems destined to win his second straight Cy Young Award, third overall (photo credit: Sports Illustrated)
Scherzer missed a little bit of time late in the season due to injury but that didn’t stop him from reaching 200 innings for the fifth consecutive season. He’s the ace of a dominating Nationals pitching rotation, striking out 12 batters per 9 innings while holding an ERA of 2.51. Clayton Kershaw was as nasty as he always is but he missed far too much time for me to seriously consider him unseating Scherzer, who I have winning this award for the second consecutive season.
Others receiving consideration: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers; Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
AL Rookie of the Year: Aaron Judge, RF, New York Yankees
One of 52 bombs hit by Aaron Judge this season (photo credit: MLB.com)
Was there any other option? The argument could be made that Judge should be MVP as well, which would be the third time ever a rookie of the year also won MVP (Fred Lynn and Ichiro were the other two). Judge hit .284 with 52 home runs and 114 RBI, leading the majors in Fangraphs WAR at 8.2. His 52 dingers were the most ever by a rookie, breaking the previous mark of 49 set by Mark McGwire back in 1987.
Others receiving consideraton: Andrew Benintendi, LF, Boston Red Sox; Mitch Haniger, RF, Seattle Mariners
NL Rookie of the Year: Cody Bellinger, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers
Cody Bellinger has been a driving force behind the Dodgers 104-win season (photo credit: True Blue LA)
Like Judge, this was also an easy pick. When Adrian Gonzalez went down for the Dodgers, it fell on Bellinger to pick up the slack. He did that and then some. Bellinger hit 39 home runs and drove in 97 runs for the Dodgers this year, keeping up the franchise’s long history of rookie success. Rhys Hoskins of the Phillies was also a consideration, as the start he got off to was one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen. He ended up hitting 18 home runs in just 50 games this year, which would put him on pace for over 55 for an entire regular season. However, Hoskins didn’t play enough to seriously be considered a threat to Bellinger.
Others receiving consideration: Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies; Paul DeJong, SS, St. Louis Cardinals
Reliever of the Year: Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kenley Jansen has been about as deadly as any reliever in baseball (photo credit: InsideSoCal.com)
Another nail-biter, Jansen barely beats out Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel. While Jansen’s K rate is lower (14.36 against Kimbrel’s 16. 43), his walk rate is half of Kimbrel’s and his home run rate is lower as well. There is a slight ERA difference in Jansen’s favor (1.32 vs 1.43). I wouldn’t argue against Kimbrel winning this award by any means, but I give Jansen the slight edge here.
Others receiving consideration: Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox
Platinum Glove (best defender): Andrelton Simmons, SS, Anaheim Angels
Simmons is well-known for his defensive wizardry (he had a heck of a season at the plate as well, but we’re not going to talk about that when discussing a defensive award) and he kept up his reputation by leading the Majors in Defensive Runs Saved with 32. Mookie Betts of the Red Sox was next at 31 but after those two there was a steep drop-off. In fact, the next closest shortstop to Simmons was Trevor Story with 11. To clear things up, Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) measures how many runs you prevent with your defense throughout the season. A DRS of 0 is considered average. Simmons repeatedly turns insane highlight plays on a daily basis and every year this award will be his to lose.
Others receiving consideration: Mookie Betts, RF, Boston Red Sox; Byron Buxton, CF, Minnesota Twins
AL Gold Gloves:
P-Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays
C-Martin Maldonado-Anaheim Angels
1B-Mitch Moreland, Boston Red Sox
2B-Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers
3B-Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
SS-Andrelton Simmons, Anaheim Angels
LF-Brett Gardner, New York Yankees
CF-Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
RF-Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
NL Gold Gloves:
P-R. A. Dickey, Atlanta Braves
C-Tucker Barnhart, Cincinnati Reds
1B-Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
2B-DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies
3B-Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
SS-Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
LF-Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins
CF-Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds
RF-Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
AL Silver Sluggers
C-Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
1B-Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals
2B-Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
3B-Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
SS-Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians
LF-Justin Upton, Detroit Tigers/Anaheim Angels
CF-Mike Trout, Anaheim Angels
RF-Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
DH-Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners
NL Silver Sluggers
C-Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
1B-Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
2B-Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals
3B-Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
SS-Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds
LF-Tommy Pham, St. Louis Cardinals
CF-Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
RF-Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
P-Tyler Glasnow, Pittsburgh Pirates
Comeback Player of the Year: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
Giancarlo Stanton’s 59 home runs put the world on notice (photo credit: CBS Sports)
This is the start of the MLB awards that aren’t technically real. I’ll be giving this award to a guy who had a poor season the year prior but bounced back with a great one. This year, it’s Giancarlo Stanton. Last season, when I was at the Home Run Derby in San Diego, Stanton put on a damn clinic, hitting 61 home runs (the previous derby record had been 41). He wasn’t in the All Star Game that season, having been hitting in the low .200s at the break. Pedro Gomez asked Stanton after he had won why he did the Derby when he wasn’t in the All Star Game (a weird question to ask, if not a little mean if you ask me), Stanton looked a tad offended but shrugged it off, raised the trophy, and said “I came here for this bad boy.” This season, Stanton has turned the entire Major Leagues into his own personal home run derby, belting 59 home runs, the most since Barry Bonds’ record-setting 73 in 2001. Stanton wasn’t just all about the long balls, though. He also managed to hit .281 and walked 12.3% of the time.
Others receiving consideration: Bryce Harper, RF, Washington Nationals; Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates; Zack Greinke, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Breakout Star of the Year: Aaron Judge, RF, New York Yankees
Last season, when he played only 27 games after a late-season callup, Judge did not look great. There was a hole in his swing the size of a hipster’s ear lobe as he struck out at a 44.2% rate. This season, while his strikeout rate is still high (30.7%), Judge has been sending the pitches he does end up hitting into other area codes. The thing that impressed me most about Judge wasn’t how many home runs he was hitting, but where they were going. And I don’t just mean distance. Judge was hitting just as many home runs to left field as he was to center field and right. You couldn’t focus on one spot to try and get him out like you can with most other power hitters because Judge can take the outside pitches just as far as the inside ones. Below is Aaron Judge’s spray chart this season, courtesy of Fangraphs.
Others receiving consideration: Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies; Tommy Pham, LF, St. Louis Cardinals; Jimmy Nelson, SP, Milwaukee Brewers; Robbie Ray, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks; Cody Bellinger, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers; Chris Taylor, UTIL, Los Angeles Dodgers; Tim Beckham, SS, Tampa Bay Rays/Baltimore Orioles
Defensive Play of the Year: Austin Jackson, OF, Cleveland Indians
Hitting Performance of the Year: Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals
Rendon’s line on April 30th against the New York Mets: 6-6 with 3 home runs, 10 RBI, and a double.
Also receiving consideration: Scooter Gennett on June 6th against the St. Louis Cardinals. 5-5 with 4 home runs and 10 RBI
Pitching Performance of the Year: Rich Hill, Los Angeles Dodgers
Poor guy. Rich Hill pulls a Harvey Haddix and goes 9 no-hit (nearly 9 perfect but for a Logan Forsythe error) innings but his team doesn’t get him a single run, then he gives up a walk-off home run to Josh Harrison in the 10th. First time ever that a no hitter is broken up by a walk-off home run in extra innings. Oddly enough, this game came the day after Sports Illustrated published a cover that asked if the Dodgers were the greatest team of all time. Rich Hill’s line on August 23rd against the Pittsburgh Pirates: 9+ innings, 1 hits, 0 walks, 1 run, 10 strikeouts, 99 pitches needed.
Others receiving consideration: Edinson Volquez’s no hitter on June 3rd against the Arizona Diamondbacks
Most enjoyable player to watch: Javy Baez, 2B/SS, Chicago Cubs
There’s more, but I think these two videos get the job done.
Others receiving consideration: Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians; Andrelton Simmons, SS, Anaheim Angels
Those are my awards picks. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.