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BBWAA Awards Season

by Brad Kehl

Awards Season

This past week, MLB announced the “finalists” for BBWAA Awards: Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, & MVP. Personally, I hate that they use the word “finalists”. Each award, they announced 3 finalists. These are not finalists, they are the players that finished in the top 3 of the voting. Voting had to be completed prior to the end of the regular season. For the sake of this article, I will be voting for who I would choose for each award based off of the top 3 list. I will also be ignoring how the teams and players performed in the offseason, just like the BBWAA writers had to do when voting.

 

AL Manager of the Year (listed in alphabetical order)

Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays

Charlie Montoyo, Toronto Blue Jays

Rick Renteria, Chicago White Sox

 

  • Kevin Cash and the Rays were coming off of a 96 win, but ALDS loss season. Many experts thought that the Rays would be a very competitive team in 2020, lead by their young pitching staff. Rays were one of two teams to finish the 60 game season with 40 or more wins.
  • Charlie Montoyo probably deserves more credit than what he has received. The Blue Jays weren’t able to play their home games in Toronto. The Canadian government didn’t allow it due to the pandemic. They and MLB had to scramble to find a “home” for them. It was finally decided they would play their home games in Buffalo in their AAA affiliate’s ballpark. The Blue Jays had plenty of hype coming into the season, but many believed they were in a rebuilding year and likely a year away from competing for the playoffs. Due to the expanded playoffs, they made it in as the 8 seed.
  • Rick Renteria was actually let go by the White Sox after the season. It’s not often that a candidate for Manager of the Year gets let go. Renteria led a very exciting young group of White Sox to the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade. 

My vote: Kevin Cash

 

NL Manager of the Year

Don Mattingly, Miami Marlins

David Ross, Chicago Cubs

Jayce Tingler, San Diego Padres

 

  • Don Mattingly had one of the toughest seasons a manager can have. He had to deal with a Covid outbreak within his organization. The Marlins had postponed games for a week. They had 18 players on the injured list due to Covid. That meant, they had to bring up 18 players from their alternate site. They were without their ace, Sandy Alcantara, and one of their best players, Miguel Rojas, for part of the season. Despite all that, the Marlins not only made the playoffs, but they swept the Cubs in the NL Wild Card Series before losing to division rival Atlanta Braves in the NLDS.
  • David Ross entered his first year as manager for the Chicago Cubs. He actually was a teammate with most of the roster when he retired a World Champion in 2016. He had the tough task of not just being their friend, but managing them as well. He helped led them to the NL Central title.
  • Jayce Tingler, another first year manager, had a very successful season. The Padres has some of the most hype entering the season, and for good reason. The past couple seasons, the Padres have spent big in free agency as they signed Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado. They also had young players to be very excited about including Chris Paddack and budding superstar Fernando Tatis, Jr. Tatis actually put Tingler in somewhat of a tough spot earlier in the season in Texas as he hit a grand slam off a 3-0 pitch with the Padres having a big lead late in the game. Tingler, a former Ranger staffer, seemed to support the Rangers more than his own player.

My pick: Don Mattingly

 

AL Rookie of the Year

Cristian Javier, SP, Houston Astros

Kyle Lewis, CF, Seattle Mariners

Luis Robert, CF, Chicago Whtie Sox

 

  • Cristian Javier showed why he was named 2019 minor league pitcher of the year by the Astros. Astros had to lean to some young guys to help with the loss of Gerrit Cole to the Yankees and Justin Verlander to injury. Javier had some huge shoes to fill. He filled those in admirably. Wound up going 5-2 with a 3.48 ERA with 58 Ks and 18 walks in 58.1 IP. He had an ERA+ of 129, which shows that he was an above average pitcher.
  • Once upon a time, the Mariners had a centerfielder in the Rookie of the Year discussion. That was only some guy named Ken Griffey, Jr. Kyle Lewis is looking to do something Griffey couldn’t do: win the award. Lewis got a little taste of the big leagues at the end of the 2019 season. Lewis started off the season has one of the hottest players in the game, but really cooled off the last month of the season.
  • Luis Robert came into the season as one of the top rated prospects in MLB. White Sox signed him to an extension even before he suited up in the majors. That’s how much they believed in the Cuban Robert. Robert had a stretch in August that he just could not be stopped, hitting 9 home runs that month. Once the calendar turned to September, he turned to ice. 

My pick: Kyle Lewis

 

NL Rookie of the Year

Alec Bohm, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies

Jake Cronenworth, 2B, San Diego Padres

Devin Williams, RP, Milwaukee Brewers

 

  • Alec Bohm didn’t debut until nearly a month after the season started, but he sure made the most of his 44 games. He led the Phillies with a .338 average and actually had the 3rd highest OPS+ behind Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper. 
  • Jake Cronenworth primarily played second base, but also filled in at first base when Eric Hosmer was out and shortstop when Fernando Tatis, Jr. was out. Cronenworth busted onto the scene by providing average and a little bit of unexpected pop. Really trailed off the last month of the season.
  • Devin Williams already won one award this offseason: Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year. He’s looking to add Rookie of the Year to that list. Williams made 13 appearances in 2019, but really came into his own in 2020. He finished the season with a microscopic 0.33 ERA and an absurd 17.7 K/9.

My pick: Devin Williams

 

AL Cy Young

Shane Bieber, SP, Cleveland Indians

Kenta Maeda, SP, Minnesota Twins

Hyun Jin Ryu, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

  • Shane Bieber had a historic season. He won the MLB pitching triple crown, the first since Johan Santana in 2006. 8 wins, 1.63 ERA, 122Ks. He also had a 281 ERA+ which was 3rd best EVER!
  • Kenta Maeda was acquired by the Twins in the Mookie Betts trade to the Dodgers. Maeda easily had his best season in 2020. His 161 ERA+ was 46 points higher than his previous best, his rookie season in 2016. Maeda regained his double digit K/9 rate he achieved in 2018, while also cutting his walk rate in half.
  • Hyun Jin Ryu signed a 4 year deal with the Blue Jays in the offseason. Ryu silenced critics this season as many were wondering if he would both remain healthy and continue his dominant performance from 2019, which earned him NL Cy Young runner up. 

My pick: Shane Bieber

 

NL Cy Young

Trevor Bauer, SP, Cincinnati Reds

Yu Darvish, SP, Chicago Cubs

Jacob deGrom, SP, New York Mets

 

  • Trevor Bauer had his best season in the shortened 2020 season. He led the NL in ERA and finished 4 strikeouts behind deGrom for the NL lead. The biggest argument that could go against Bauer is that he only had 5 wins. 
  • Yu Darvish gave Wrigleyville a sigh of relief. Darvish’s first two seasons didn’t quite go as planned as he struggled with health and keeping the ball in the field. Darvish tied Bieber with the most wins with 8.
  • Jacob deGrom is trying to become the first pitcher to win 3 straight Cy Young awards since Randy Johnson won 4 straight from 1999-2002. He certainly made a strong case for himself leading the NL in strikeouts, and finishing 4th in ERA. However, he only had 4 wins, but that wasn’t an issue before as he won the 2018 Cy Young with only 10 wins.

My pick: Trevor Bauer

 

AL MVP

Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox

DJ LeMahieu, 2B, New York Yankees

Jose Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland Indians

 

  • If only one player from each team could be nominated, Abreu had some tough company in his teammate Tim Anderson (don’t be surprised if you see Anderson 4th or 5th). That isn’t the case however. Just how good was his 2020 campaign? Abreu had a combined WAR in 2018 and 2019 of 3.1. That’s 287 games. So how did he do in 60 games this year? A WAR of 2.6. He nearly surpassed his 18 & 19 seasons in just 60 games. 
  • DJ LeMahieu is one of the most underrated players, not only on his team, but in all of baseball. He’s been outshadowed by the powerful trio of Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Luke Voit. When LeMahieu won the 2020 AL batting title, he became the first modern day player to win batting titles in both leagues (he won the NL title in 2016 with the Rockies).
  • After back to back 3rd place MVP finishes in ‘17 & ‘18, Ramirez had a subpar 2019. He rebounded back to form in 2020, leading the league in runs, but also clubbing 14 home runs. Ramirez is hoping to have at least his highest finish in MVP voting ever.

My pick: Jose Abreu

 

NL MVP

Mookie Betts, RF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves

Manny Machado, 3B, San Diego Padres

 

  • New league, same ol’ Mookie. This is why he is arguably a top 5 player in the game. Betts came over from Boston in a 3 way deal with Minnesota. Betts already added a gold glove, and a silver slugger to put on his mantle. Can he add an NL MVP to go along with his 2018 MVP award?
  • If Freddie Freeman wins the MVP, it would make for a great storybook ending. Freeman was one of the players that tested positive for Covid. He had a tough go with it, even praying not to die at one point after spiking with a 104.5 degree fever. Freeman led MLB in runs and the NL in doubles.
  • Many thought Machado’s teammate Fernando Tatis, Jr would be in the top 3 rather than Machado. Some voters have said they think they got the voting wrong after not seeing Tatis in the top 3. Machado really stepped up the 2nd half of the season, which could be why he and not Tatis, who cooled off towards the end of the season, is in the top 3.

My pick: Freddie Freeman

 

The awards will be announced November 9-12.

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