End of year awards are fun. That is really all they are, but fun is fun. So I thought I might share my award winners and have some fun. My 5th grade gym teacher always said, "if you had fun, you won." So, I win. Fun = Won.
We'll start with the most fun award and move down the list.
NL Cy Young Award - R.A. Dickey
He lead the league in Batters Faced. Need I say more?
Well, this was super close for me. I thought Johnny Cueto and Clayton Kershaw were right there. According to BaseballReference.com, Clayton Kershaw is nicknamed "The Claw" and that almost convinced me to select him. However, now that I am in my 30s, I am trying to not let nicknames sway me. Plus, R.A. is a nickname too.
Dickey throws a cool pitch. If you know me well, and none of you do, you know that I love novelty. Kershaw is your prototypical left-handed, dominant pitcher. Cueto is an outstanding right-handed pitcher. Dickey was a Twin. When he was a Twin, he had some success. He also had a lot of failness. Failure. Now, he is inning eater. He also led the league in strikeouts and innings pitched. He had consecutive 1-hitters. The late-career emergence is impressive. With three candidates who have such similar resumes, I tend to vote for novelty and no one is more novel than R.A. Dickey, at least not this year.
NL Rookie of the Year - Bryce Harper
I think Bryce Harper hits 40 home runs next year. That is not why I am selecting him. He is 19. When I was 19, (insert story of immaturity and weak strength here). He hit 22 home runs and had an OPS+ of 119. I am told he had the greatest teenage season of all time. Beyond being a good hitter, he played great defense, as he received a lot of his surprising 5.0 bWAR from his defense. He gets criticism for doing hilarious things like blowing kisses and pointing bats, but really, isn't he everything people want in a player?
He plays really hard. People tend to like that. Although, it seems like they like that less when it is a really talented player who is playing hard. When Nick Punto or Matt Tolbert makes that "I'm running as fast as I can" face, they get praise. Harper didn't seem to get his due gamer-cred. Perhaps he will in the future.
For me, the combination of immense talent, hard work, and effortful effort, makes him a generational talent. I am looking forward to watching him for many, many years. Hopefully never as a Yankee.
NL MVP - Buster Posey
This was an interesting race. You could make good, logical arguments for Posey, Yadier Molina, Ryan Braun, David Wright, and/or Andrew McCutchen. Braun's offensive numbers are very impressive, as are McCutchen's and Wright's. The latter two fell off a bit as the year went on. Braun got stronger. But, so did Posey. I swear that every time I turned the Giants on, Posey was driving in a run. I know that RBI are evil, but I can't shake that anecdotal evidence from my dome. Molina is just a fantastic catcher and is starting to be a better offensive player. With many things being equal, I think that being a catcher on a playoff team matters. Posey was just slightly better than Molina, so that would be my pick.
Posey is like Joe Mauer 2.0. I know I wrote about this before, but it is just so true. If Mauer had power, he'd be Posey. In fact, if you combine their names, you get Pouer. Think about it. Posey is just outstanding, and has been since his extended debut in 2010. He hits for average, gets on base, hits for power and plays most of the games (some at first). Most of his value comes on offense, but he isn't a horrible catcher. That sounds a lot like Pouer to me. He also led the NL in WAR, so he must be selected by any sane person with a access to decimals.
AL Cy Young Award - Justin Verlander
I just realized that I always add Award to the end of this award, but none of the others. Is that true of everyone?
I choose Verlander because he is the best. See Thursday night for proof. He also led the league in batters faced, strikeouts, innings pitched and then also threw in ERA+ for the pitching QUADRUPLE CROWN. (I made that up.)
David Price is right there. He led the league in ERA and had 20 wins. I just think Verlander is better. If Price had thrown 25 more innings, I think his ERA would have been higher. I have no way to prove that, but I don't have to either.
Verlander could win the next 4 Cy Young Awards and it would not surprise me a bit. He is a true workhorse and probably the best pitcher in baseball. He throws hard and has good control. There is a lot to like. The fact that he maintains and sometimes exceeds his early game velocity in later innings is impressive. He throws a lot of pitches and it doesn't seem to affect him. He seems like the type of pitcher that could be dominant for a long time.
AL Rookie of the Year - Mike Trout
I am kind of surprised that I haven't come across any articles that are arguing for someone else. You know, someone saying that Player X is actually the Rookie of the Year for such and such reasons. People love to do that kind of stuff just to poke bears. Wait a minute, I should do that!
Actual AL Rookie of the Year - Yu Darvish
Have you seen how many pitches this guy has? He has, like, 7, and each cuts in and out. Therefore, if you take the number of pitches he has and multiple by the number of cuts, it is literally like he has 400 pitches. Ok, my heart isn't in this.
Just Kidding, Actual Actual AL Rookie of the Year - Mike Trout
Trout is just too obvious. He hit 30 HR, stole 49 bases, had an OBP around .400, and played a ridiculous center field. He led the league in WAR by a extremely large margin. He had one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time. It was like he was shot out of a cannon, but then just stayed in motion for 5 months. When he finally hit that fat guy in the stomach, he had amassed stats that are jaw-dropping and perhaps a little iconic?
AL MVP - Mike Trout
Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown. No one should even attempt to take that away from him. Anyone arguing that leading the league in those three categories doesn't mean anything, is just trying too hard. Cabrera was the most dominant offensive player this year. In fact, he is probably the best overall offensive player in the game right now. People tend to criticize him for his lack of base running and defense, but then ignore the fact that he is one of the best contact and power hitters, lumping those two things together to downplay his overall dominance.
I read a lot of opinion pieces on the AL MVP race. Pretty much everyone picks a side and then states that their choice is the obvious choice. There is no obvious choice in this race. You can pick Cabrera, explain why and be either right or wrong. You can do the exact same thing with Trout. My point would be that base running and defense matter to me. In addition, he plays a more difficult position.
There are a few arguments to which I simply do not subscribe. Cabrera agreeing to play third base does nothing for me. He could have just as easily agreed to DH, and their offense would have been just as good and their defense likely would have been better. He also does not get extra credit for mediocre play at a position, just because he wanted to. Trout is just naturally awesome in center, and I think that is a lot more impressive.
The Tigers making the playoffs means nothing to me as well. The Angels had a better record, but played in the much better division. I wonder how well the Angels would have finished if they would have played Kansas City, Minnesota and Cleveland over 50 times. You can't say for sure, but it is enough of an argument to remove that factor from my decision. Also, the Angels won more games than the Tigers. I don't like that argument, but I get it.
I don't get the "Trout didn't play in April" argument or the "Cabrera was awesome when games mattered" argument at all. Had Trout played more games, he likely would have accumulated more stats. While he should be slightly penalized for playing fewer games, that fact should even that part out. Cabrera was awesome in September, but Trout was awesome in June. Last time I looked, all those games count the same. I get the pressure of September, but I don't think that is enough to sway this decision.
Ultimately, either choice makes at least some sense to me. I will not be upset, regardless of who wins. (I might cry just a bit, but quickly recover. Likely just alligator tears.) For me, Cabrera was the most impressive offensive player this year, with Trout trailing slightly behind. Since offense is not the only part of baseball that matters to me, his defense and base running push him past Cabrera.
This does not mean that I don't value Triple Crown stats. This does not mean that I am not completely impressed with what Cabrera did this season. This does not mean that I think the Triple Crown is stupid and/or overrated. This does not mean that I think RBI is a terrible stat. This does not mean that I think WAR is the only important stat. This does not mean that Cabrera did not have a truly amazing and historic season. It just means that I think Trout's season was better. Sometimes, that is all there is to it.