The votes have been tallied and Major League Baseball has handed out its postseason awards. There is almost always controversy with these awards with staunch views on both sides of a given argument. Here are my thoughts on the final decisions:
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
In the American League, Mike Trout was the clear choice for this honor. In fact, Trout ran away with the award, receiving all 28 first place votes. Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland A’s came in a distant second. Trout finished second in the American League in average (.328) and racked up 49 steals. That coupled with his stellar defense and formidable power made this a clear choice for the writers.
The National League was a much closer race, and rightfully so. Fellow 1st and 10 writer Anthony Tartamella argued in our weekly Tuesday podcast that the award should have gone to Arizona pitcher Wade Miley, who ended the season 16-11 with 144 strikeouts and a 3.33 ERA. However, the award went to the highly acclaimed Washington outfielder Bryce Harper. Harper, with his .270 average and 22 homeruns, had a similar impact on his team as Miley, but I agree with the decision for two reasons. First, Harper is 19 years old (during the season), which makes his accomplishments at the Major League level even more impressive (I happen to be 19 as well, which makes that even more surreal). Second, Washington made the playoffs. I realize that doesn’t necessarily make him the better player but many writers must have taken that factor into account in such a close race. After all, Harper only beat out Miley by a mere seven points.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
I was surprised by the selection of Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin. Perhaps it’s because I nearly watched Buck Showalter’s Orioles beat my Yankees in the ALDS, but I really thought he would win the award, especially with all of the hype surrounding him. What impressed me so much about Showalter was his ability to make his players perform up to their potential. Players like Chris Davis, Mark Reynolds and Adam Jones have largely been disappointments with inconsistent histories. But with this team of underachievers, Showalter made them into a group of comeback players and almost division champions. In the end, in an eight-point race, Melvin took home first place after managing his group of “moneyball” players to a come-from-behind AL West title.
Davey Johnson’s season was hardly without controversy. When the oldest skipper in the league decided to shut down star pitcher Stephen Strasburg, many in baseball strongly disagreed. Having said that, he did coach an extremely young team to play up to the hype. The Nationals won the National League East by four games over the Atlanta Braves before a disappointing first round exit to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. With Johnson at the helm, the sky seems to be the limit for this team. Dusty Baker of the Cincinnati Reds gets honorable mention, coming in second place.
In an extremely close race (and rightfully so), David Price beat out Justin Verlander for the American League Cy Young award. Price finished the year with sparkling numbers, a 2.56 ERA, 205 strikeouts and a 20-5 record. It’s hard to disagree with the selection, but if I had a vote, I would have selected Verlander with his 239 strikeouts. Verlander led a winning staff this year and is arguably the best shutdown pitcher in all of baseball. With the statistics being so close, I once again would have to go with the player who made the playoffs. However, Price’s accomplishments are nothing to sneeze at.
In a runaway victory, Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey won the NL Cy Young. With the win, Dickey brought a glimmer of hope to a struggling franchise, becoming only the third Met in history to win the award (Dwight Gooden and Tom Seaver being the others). Dickey finished the year with a league-high 230 strikeouts. He also racked up 20 wins, an impressive feat on a sub .500 ball club. Dickey was flat out unhittable at times this season throwing his trademark knuckleball, but fooling hitters by changing speeds. The Mets need to do all they can to sign him to extension, despite his age.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
It’s really a testament to Mike Trout’s season that he could even challenge Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera for the American League MVP. Cabrera was absolutely stellar this season, smacking 44 homeruns and chipping in 139 RBIs to the Tigers’ AL Central victory. Cabrera was the first Triple Crown winner in either league since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, making his accomplishments that much more impressive. I understand the desire of some to give the award to the to the impressive rookie, but Cabrera was the right choice for this award.
Despite Ryan Braun’s somewhat superior offensive numbers, Giants catcher Buster Posey rightfully won the National League MVP. First of all, to accumulate the stats Posey did this season (.336 average, 24 homeruns and 103 RBIs) as a catcher is remarkable. Posey had 530 at-bats this season, about 100 fewer than a regular position player. Posey also became only the 11th catcher in either league to receive the award. Posey received 27 out of 32 possible 1st place votes.