You are about to hear a lot of Rays commentary from yours truly because it’s awards season in the MLB, but I promise to talk about some other teams and players as well. The finalists for Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year were announced on Monday night.
People are already debating who should win, who deserves to be in, who got robbed, who Brian Snitker is, etc.
However, the baseball insiders at What The Sports have the most knowledge in our National Pastime and will give you only the correct picks for the MLB awards season, meaning I’m going to tell you who I believe should win and who probably will win.
DISCLAIMER: Only trust the actual results of the awards and not what I say because I’m not the person reading out the name of the winner and I’m not enough of an insider for people to trust my logic outside of, well, me of course.
AL MVP: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
The fact that J.D. Martinez wasn’t included as a finalist for the AL MVP this year after finishing the regular season second in home runs, first in RBI and second in average in the AL (43 HR, 130 RBI, .330 AVG) on a World Series-winning Red Sox team is kind of crazy, but it shows you how good Betts must have been to overshadow him.
Martinez had arguably a better season than anyone else on that list because he almost won the AL Triple Crown, plus he was second in the AL in slugging percentage and hits, and third in OPS+, OBP, OPS, runs scored, adjusted batting runs, adjusted batting wins, offensive win percentage and Win Probability Added. He also won the Silver Slugger in two different positions for the first time ever, so I guess he’s trash then.
Betts was second in most of those categories, plus he already won a Gold Glove this year, led the league in average (.346), runs scored (129), slugging percentage (.640) and WAR (10.9). Trout has the sabermetrics, but Betts has the better value and better season. Plus, a great smile too.
AL Cy Young: Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays
Not even a question, Blake Snell deserves this award. I’ve exhausted all my arguments about how Snell is undoubtedly the most deserving of this award. If you wanna see why, read this article.
*drops mic* (look at how good he looks in that suit. What a man.)
AL Rookie of the Year: Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees (Shohei Ohtani won on Monday)
Andujar could’ve been in the running for the AL MVP as well if it weren’t for the amazing seasons from the current finalists and Martinez. The third baseman for the Yankees had a .297/.328/.527 slash line with 27 home runs, 92 RBI, 170 hits, 47 doubles, 83 runs scored and a 126 OPS+.
Andujar was one of the most valuable players on the Yankees in 2018. He emerged quickly on the field, but was overshadowed by other players on his own team. However, that doesn’t discount at all what he did. His defense is his current liability, since he had a -2.2 defensive WAR, but his ceiling is high with the young core the Yankees have.
Can we give some love to Joey Wendle from the Rays, who had the highest batting average and WAR of any rookie in 2018, along with 146 hits and 33 doubles. He also had only four errors in his primary position at second base and a .989 fielding percentage. Unfortunately, no one probably knows who he is because of who he plays for. GOAT.
AL Manager of the Year: Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays (Bob Melvin won on Tuesday)
Alex Cora deserves all the credit in the world for winning 108 games and a World Series championship in his first year as the Red Sox manager. Bob Melvin won 96 games as the manager of the Athletics, guiding the A’s to the second Wild Card after not being considered a postseason contender for most of the season.
However, I don’t think that either could’ve pulled off the job that Cash did with the Rays. They won 90 games with a depleted offense, one steady starting pitcher the entire season and a bullpen that collectively worked as starters two through five.
The Rays had one player who hit for 30 home runs or more and that player, C.J. Cron, hit exactly 30. They had no players with more than 75 RBI, 150 hits or an average above .300, though two players hit exactly .300.
The most games that a position player started in 2018 was 141. Four players had double-digit home runs, and the other three not named C.J. Cron had five more home runs combined than Cron alone. How this team won 90 games, I don’t think anyone, including myself, will ever know, but to do that well with what he had, that deserves a Medal of Honor.
NL MVP: Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers
Arenado gets knocked down again because he plays for Colorado and like it or not, stats are inflated at Coors Field. However, Arenado is a better defender than Yelich so that gives him a slight advantage in that respect. Baez had a breakout year for the Cubs, arguably the best offensive player on the team, but he somewhat faltered down the stretch as Yelich began to heat up.
Yelich had better numbers than Arenado and better numbers than Baez, plus he put the Brewers on his back all the way to the NLCS, one win short of reaching the World Series. Yelich had a .326/.402./.598 split, leading the NL in average, slugging, OPS (1.000) and OPS+ (164).
He also had 187 hits, 36 home runs, 110 RBI, 22 stolen bases, 34 doubles and 118 runs scored while committing three errors in the outfield and just one in 131 combined starts in left and right field. Yelich is most deserving. *insert Pete Davidson look-alike joke here* (You know I had to pull it out and yes, he’s on the Brewers but this only happened when he was on the Marlins.)
NL Cy Young: Jacob DeGrom, New York Mets
This is a more obvious choice than Snell. DeGrom led the MLB with a 1.70 ERA and despite a 10-9 record (the Mets suck and gave him no run support), he set two MLB single-season records for most consecutive starts allowing three runs or fewer (29) and most consecutive quality starts (24) both active going into 2019.
If the Mets scored four runs or more in each of his 32 starts in 2018, DeGrom would’ve went 32-0. His 216 ERA+ led the NL and he threw 217 innings, an average of over 6.2 innings a start, and also finished second in the NL with 269 strikeouts. He was also tied for the NL lead in WAR (10.0) with Aaron Nola, another Cy Young finalist.
However, there’s no question DeGrom should win this award, and I think it should be a unanimous decision or close to that.
NL Rookie of the Year: tie Juan Soto, Washington Nationals, Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves (Acuna won on Monday)
Honestly, I cannot pick one over the other. They had the same impact on their teams, despite Soto’s Nationals not making the postseason (HAHA). Acuna Jr. had the highest WAR at 4.1, but his offensive stats were similar to Soto, and Soto is 19.
Soto had a batting average .001 lower than Acuna, but more RBI and a higher OBP. Acuna had more home runs hits, runs, higher slugging percentage and OPS+, so he will probably win, but letting them share it isn’t a big problem
NL Manager of the Year: tie Brian Snitker, Atlanta Braves, Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers (Snitker deservingly won on Tuesday)
Compare the two managers, they both had incredible seasons. Counsell was one game away from taking the Brewers to their first World Series since 1982 and Snitker took what most thought was a below-average Braves team to their first NL East crown since 2005 and a 90+ win season.
Counsell was so close to reaching the playoffs in 2017, but the Brewers finished one game out of the NL Wild Card. In 2018, he was able to win 95 games with the Brew Crew, an NL Central crown and home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Honestly, they both achieved great things in 2018, and while Counsell will probably get it due to the fact that he got the Brewers to the NLCS and they were well on their way to an NL pennant, Snitker’s achievement will not go unnoticed and if he wins, I will not be surprised either.
Looking at overall stats, the Brewers had slightly better pitching, the Braves had slightly better hitting and much better fielding, so by those very basic metrics, I’m going to give it to Counsell.
The BBWAA Awards season is the best time of the year, unless Blake Snell doesn’t win Cy Young and then I will riot and complain on Twitter until the end of time. Fingers crossed.