With another baseball season in the books, it is time for awards to roll in. On Nov. 12, Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuña Jr. took home the American and National League Rookie of the Year trophies, respectively. With more awards to come, The McGill Tribune has compiled a guide to this week in baseball awards.
Tuesday Nov. 13
Managers of the Year (Bob Melvin, OAK; and Brian Snitker, ATL)
Alex Cora won 108 games—and the World Series—but Bob Melvin will be the one to walk away with the American League Manager of the Year Award. Melvin led an overlooked Athletics squad to 96 wins and the playoffs. He got career seasons from Jed Lowrie and Stephen Piscotty and coaxed yet another .247 season out of Khris Davis. Maximizing the production from his veterans, Melvin also oversaw his young corner infielders Matt Chapman and Matt Olson who broke out into premier power hitters and defenders.
National League voting will be much closer; Craig Counsell and Brian Snitker are both worthy finalists. Counsell managed the Brewers, who brought in Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain this past offseason, to the best record in the National League. However, the Manager of the Year award more often goes to a candidate with lesser expectations, and Braves manager Brian Snitker’s ability to turn the 2017 90-loss Braves into a 2018 90-win club should earn him the award.
Wednesday Nov. 14
Cy Young Awards (Blake Snell, TB; and Jacob deGrom, NYM)
The AL Cy Young race features a mix of faces both old and new. Blake Snell was 2018’s breakout pitcher with a 21-5 record, 1.89 ERA, and 221 strikeouts. Snell was the only consistent starter on a Rays squad that won 90 games. His gaudy stats will push him above veteran workhorse Justin Verlander, whose 290 strikeouts and 2.52 ERA would have earned more serious consideration for the award in previous years.
Jacob deGrom will win the NL Cy Young award despite his team’s best efforts to sabotage his brilliant season. The pitcher managed a mediocre 10-9 record after the Mets supplied him with a mere 3.7 runs per game of run support. Max Scherzer’s 300 strikeouts and 18-7 record will draw the attention of some voters. But, ultimately, deGrom’s 1.70 ERA and 269 strikeouts will push him past Scherzer given modern voters’ tendency to look past win-loss records.
Thursday Nov. 15
Most Valuable Players (Mookie Betts, BOS; and Christian Yelich, MIL)
This season, Mike Trout posted a career-best mark in OPS+, an advanced metric that normalizes a hitter’s on-base plus slugging percentage relative to the league average. But even his glittering mark of 199, which shows he hit 99 per cent better than the average MLB hitter, will prove insufficient. Once again, Trout will be robbed of the American League MVP award as a result of the Los Angeles Angels missing the postseason. Mookie Betts will be popular with old-school voters as he was the heart of the best-hitting outfield in baseball; and, the Red Sox’s 108 wins certainly won’t hurt, either. Betts’ .346 average, 32 home runs, and MLB-leading 10.4 Wins Above Replacement per Fangraphs (fWAR), will be enough to hold off Trout for AL MVP.
Christian Yelich led the National League in batting average, slugging percentage, and fWAR. He pulled away in the NL MVP race during one of the best individual second halves of a season in MLB history. Colorado’s Nolan Arenado won his second straight Platinum Glove award, but voters will discredit his offence because he plays in hitter-friendly Coors Field, and Javier Baez’s league leading 111 runs batted in aren’t enough to challenge Yelich in any significant way.