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2019 MLB National League Awards

…same full disclosure as previous years:  The Blowhard watches a whole helluva more American League baseball than National League.  This is probably going to be short, but sweet!

Most Valuable Player:

  1. Christian Yelich, Milwaukee
  2. Cody Bellinger, LA Dodgers
  3. Anthony Rendon, Washington
  4. Ketel Marte, Arizona
  5. Nolan Arenado, Colorado
  6. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
  7. Pete Alonso, NY Mets
  8. Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati
  9. Juan Soto, Washington
  10. Josh Bell, Pittsburgh

Like Mike Trout in the American League, Yelich missed the majority of the last month with injury, while the closest competitor played the whole season.  But also like Trout, Yelich’s numbers were so sick when he played, he gets the nod for me.  Plus, he had less help than Bellinger in his lineup…and entire team for that matter…and that kind of cemented the pick for me.  Rendon also had a strong season, but he was a tick behind the other two.

Marte?  Talk about coming out of nowhere.  But he deserves the #4 spot.  Arenado once again gets penalized for his home park.  But perhaps I should reconsider after what DJ LeMahieu did in New York after leaving?  Not yet…

The rest of the guys had great seasons, so you can put them in any order you want.  Charlie Blackmon and maybe Trevor Story got penalized for Coors Field, as they could be top 10 as well.  Ronald Acuna Jr. almost went 40/40 and Bryce Harper ended up straightening out his season and ended up with decent numbers.  Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant from the Cubs, Jeff McNeil from the Mets.  Max Muncy…etc.  Some players put up some pretty good numbers, per usual.  Any of them could be in the bottom half of the top ten.  I’m going with the above.

Cy Young:

  1. Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
  2. Hyun-Jin Ryu, LA Dodgers
  3. Max Scherzer, Washington
  4. Stephen Strasburg, Washington
  5. Jack Flaherty, St. Louis

Tougher than it looked here.  Ryu was dominant in the first half and would have been the easy choice had he not had a stretch of starts in the second half where he got shelled…then had to be rested a bit.  Max was Max, but he missed a handful of starts due to injury.  Jake’s numbers were actually pretty close to what they were in 2018 when he won the Cy.  Not having the sub-2.00 ERA may make people think otherwise, but take a look at the whole lot of them.  That pushed me to make him the choice in 2019 as well.

Strasburg had a bit of a high ERA of 3.32, but his overall numbers made me slot him in at #4, again, not including the postseason, where he was dominant and the World Series MVP.  But Flaherty, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray (seriously?), Mike Soroka and even a closer like Josh Hader or perhaps Kirby Yates could have filled out #4-5 as well.

Rookie of the Year:

  1. Pete Alonso, NY Mets
  2. Pete Alonso, NY Mets
  3. Pete Alonso, NY Mets

This one should be unanimous.  The kid hit 53 homers.  But if I had to take a #2 & #3, I take Soroka second and Dakota Hudson, starting pitcher for St. Louis 3rd.  Fernando Tatis Jr. is a finalist with Soroka in real life and no question he is a real talent.  Along with Keston Hiura of the Brewers.  But they both played 84 games, coincidentally.  And while their numbers were good, they weren’t “Yordan Alvarez good”.  So they both are a step behind.  Special mention here to Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson Mike here as well.  The “kid” finally makes the majors at age 28 and hits 21 bombs and has a .852 OPS in 411 plate appearances.  He is out of the top 5 in the Rookie of the Year voting for sure.  And he may hit .211 with 10 homers next year.  But it’s worth a shout out here anyway.

Manager of the Year:

  1. Craig Counsell, Milwaukee
  2. Mike Shildt, St. Louis
  3. Brian Snitker, Atlanta

Counsell seemed to do more with less this year, even though his team lost 7 more games than last season.  Yelich’s injury at the end didn’t help.  Travis Shaw and Jesus Aguilar fell off the face of the earth.  2018 #1 starter Jhoulys Chacin collapsed, was released and ended up starting bullpen games for the pitching depleted Red Sox in September.  The three-headed monster in the bullpen (Hader, Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress) was down to one this season…Hader.  Knebel missed the entire season with injury.  Jeffress was hurt a bit then sucked when he was healthy and he too was released.  Etc.  Seems like Counsell was the most deserving choice here.

Shildt got the Cards to the playoffs, despite guys like Matt Carpenter, Marcell Ozuna and even Paul Goldschmidt taking a dip down in production.  Plus a few pitchers like Michael Wacha as well.  Snitker led a 7 win improvement while having some pitchers having good seasons in 2018 take a downturn in 2019.

Dave Roberts gets penalized for having a stacked team.  Dave Martinez led a 11 win improvement for the Nationals…and of course won the World Series.  But when looking at that roster, it makes you wonder if he could’ve done even better in the regular season.  Even after the team lost Harper.  I guess when you win the World Series, it matters not.  But I can’t vote with the postseason in mind, once again.

I actually thought of giving Mickey Callaway of the Mets some love for his 9 win improvement and keeping his team in the mix until close to the end, finishing 3 games out of the 2nd wild card spot.  But he is apparently a nut job and ended up getting fired at the end of the season.  So I guess maybe it wasn’t him that led the team to success?

Week Ten…

Fantastic game Thursday night believe it or not.  Raiders/Chargers…couple of mediocre teams.  Of course it was a good game, right?

The Chargers really should have won the game.  But they let the Raiders march right down the field in the final minutes.  Plus, Philip Rivers threw three picks…and had two others negated by penalties.  Can’t win much that way.

That’s all I really have to say about that.  On to Sunday’s games:

Detroit at Chicago (-2.5)

Your guess is as good as mine with this pile of mediocrity.

Chicago 20, Detroit 17.  

Baltimore (-9.5) at Cincinnati

Welcome to the NFL Ryan Finley!!

Baltimore 41, Cincinnati 10.  Lock of the week.

Arizona at Tampa Bay (-4.5)

The combined record is 5-11-1, but this could be a fun game to watch.

Tampa Bay 38, Arizona 33.

Kansas City (-3.5) at Tennessee

Did you know that KC is under .500 at home and 4-0 on the road?  Me neither.  I’d feel better about this pick if Patrick Mahomes is definitely back.  But I feel pretty good about it even if Matt Moore is still at the helm.

Kansas City 31, Tennessee 20.  

Buffalo at Cleveland (-2.5)

The Browns have to start winning games with all that talent, don’t they??  And the Bills aren’t really a .750 team, are they??

Cleveland 24, Buffalo 17.  

New York Giants (-2.5) “at” New York Jets 

3-14 combined record for the NY teams.  Ouch.  Well, at least it’s a home game for both teams…even though it can’t be on the schedule.  Darnold vs. Jones!  But that’s where any intrigue ends.  I’m picking here based on who I think is worse and will lose, instead of doing what I usually do and pick who I think is going to win.  The Giants ain’t great, but the J-E-T-S are putrid.

New York Giants 3, New York Jets 0.  

Atlanta at New Orleans (-12.5) 

I cannot believe Arthur Blank has kept Dan Quinn this long.  At this point, I guess Quinn just gets gassed after the season.  Matt Ryan is supposed to be back, but does that even matter?

New Orleans 34, Atlanta 13.  

Miami at Indianapolis (-10.5)

Nice win for the Dolphins last week.  But…the Jets.  Jacoby Brissett, Brian Hoyer, the ghost of Andrew Luck…doesn’t matter.  Though Fitzmagic is just spunky enough that the ‘Phins may actually cover.  It won’t hurt if 86 year old Adam Vinatieri keeps missing kicks.

Indianapolis 20, Miami 13.  

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Pittsburgh

Is Mason Rudolph the new “Captain Checkdown”?  Alex Smith better get healthy for the 2020 season to try and regain that title.  The Rams are coming off a bye.  That pretty much seals it for me.

Los Angeles Rams 34, Pittsburgh 17.

Carolina at Green Bay (-4.5)

Thinking that embarrassment against the Chargers last Sunday wakes up the Pack a bit.  The Panthers have played surprisingly well under the stewardship of Kyle Allen.  But let’s not forget that they got pasted at San Fran two weeks ago.

Green Bay 30, Carolina 23.  

Minnesota at Dallas (-2.5)

I’m not sure how I feel about either of these teams.  I mean, they are 11-6 combined.  But my sense is they could be even better if that makes any sense.  I could say that this pick is a hunch, but I like Mike Zimmer as a coach over Jason Garrett and that is the difference here in the end.

Minnesota 30, Dallas 27.

Seattle at San Francisco (-6.5)

The ‘hawks are actually only 3-2 at home and 4-0 on the road.  That’s unusual for them.  In any event, the Niners are the last undefeated team and will have 10 days to prepare for this one.  Seattle barely beat the Bucs last Sunday.  You know what that means.

Seattle 27, San Francisco 24.  

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  0-1

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  4-5

Season (against the spread):  68-68

Season (straight up):  90-46

2019 MLB American League Awards

Major League Baseball will start handing out the hardware for the 2019 season next week.  The finalists for all the major awards have also been announced.  The Blowhard has his opinions, and the finalists in real life won’t necessarily be the finalists in this “vote”.  We will list out our picks like it was a real ballot.  Meaning, 10 choices for MVP, 5 for Cy Young, etc.  And let’s please remember, the postseason results don’t count.  Real life ballots are finalized once the regular season ends.  Let’s dive right in:

Most Valuable Player:

  1. Mike Trout, LA Angels
  2. Alex Bregman, Houston
  3. DJ LeMahieu, NY Yankees
  4. Xander Bogaerts, Boston
  5. Nelson Cruz, Minnesota
  6. George Springer, Houston
  7. Marcus Semien, Oakland
  8. Rafael Devers, Boston
  9. Carlos Santana, Cleveland
  10. Jorge Soler, Kansas City

This is what I wrote last year:  “There will be at least one person upset that I put Trout third.  Mikey may still yet be the best player in baseball.  But again, for those who don’t remember, I am an advocate for giving the MVP award to the “most valuable” instead of the “best player”.  You will see from the list above that there are no players from bad teams and only one (Trout) from a mediocre team.  I know, these guys are only one of nine on the field at the same time.  And it’s hard to “carry” a baseball team by yourself.  But look at the difference J.D. seemed to make in the Boston lineup and maybe one player can?”

Welp, I give up.  Trout is the best player in baseball.  He looked like he was on his way to his best season before being shut down in early September with a foot injury…and by “best season”, that is really saying something with the career he has had.  It may have been his best season anyway.  His team still sucked, that is nothing new.  It will always make one wonder how “valuable” he actually is to the team.  But that matters not anymore.

Alex Bregman would be the only other real option.  But how “valuable” was he to his team?  Well, he had some great numbers and showed his defensive versatility when he played a great deal of the season at shortstop.  But he also had guys like Jose Altuve, George Springer, Yuli Gurriel, Carlos Correa to go along with a top rookie and 2 Cy Young candidates that we will talk more about later.  So even though Houston won 107 games, Bregman had a lot of help.

So Trout is the choice.  Some people (Pete?) would say that is abundantly clear and always has been.  Perhaps that is true…but moving on…

Semien is the third finalist in real life.  Helluva a year for him for sure.  But 3rd seems to be a stretch.  LeMahieu is my choice.  DJ wasn’t even going to necessarily have a full-time job when he first started the season with the Yanks.  And, silly me, I thought once he left the cozy confines of Coors Field, his numbers would take a hit.  Wrong again.  With all of the Yankee injuries, DJ was out there every day and his numbers, specifically his power numbers, were the best of his career.

Maybe Xander is a little high at 4th, and if you switched him and Semien…I don’t know.  X was 5th in the AL in OPS and as a shortstop, I felt like that meant something.  We likely would have had Cruz and Springer higher than X, but they both missed about 40 games, so we pushed them back a bit.

8-10 could have been anyone.  Per usual.  I thought the three here should be recognized for their awesome seasons.  Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Austin Meadows, Yoan Moncada, Jose Altuve, Matt Olson, a couple of pitchers…if you put any of those guys at the back of the top 10, I would not argue with you.

Cy Young:

  1. Justin Verlander, Houston
  2. Gerrit Cole, Houston
  3. Charlie Morton, Tampa Bay
  4. Shane Bieber, Cleveland
  5. Lance Lynn, Texas

It’s really Verlander 1A and Cole 1B.  It was THAT close.  I guess the tiebreakers included Verlanders’ lower WHIP and more consistent year.  Cole started a little slow and then dominated from June on in.  But if you gave the award to either you wouldn’t be wrong.  Morton is a distant 3rd.  Bieber could have made that spot as well.  I can’t believe I am writing Lynn into the last spot.  But who else would it be?  Mike Minor?  Lucas Giolito?  Eduardo Rodriguez?  A closer like Roberto Osuna?  I don’t know.  Does it matter?

Rookie of the Year:

  1. Yordan Alvarez, Houston
  2. Eloy Jimenez, Chi White Sox
  3. John Means, Baltimore

Alvarez only played 87 games.  But his numbers were so off the charts, he wins in a landslide.  Eloy had a better year than people think.  And Means actually made the All-Star team.  Though, yeah, someone had to go from the Orioles.

There were some other exciting rookies in the league this year.  But they either didn’t do as well as expected (Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, Oscar Mercado) or didn’t play enough (Bo Bichette).  Brandon Lowe was an All-Star and is up for the real award, but he missed the majority of the second half.  And didn’t have the numbers Alvarez had anyway.  Michael Chavis also contributed as a rookie then he himself missed the last several weeks.  Solid group here going forward though.

Manager of the Year:

  1. Rocco Baldelli, Minnesota
  2. Aaron Boone, NY Yankees
  3. Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay

I was tempted to give this to Boone with the way he had to navigate all the injuries the team had this year.  But they are the Yankees.  And have enough resources to combat injuries in the first place.  It’s also impossible to ignore a 23 win improvement in your first year as manager, as the Twins did under Baldelli.  Cash could win this every year.  His team doesn’t spend and he has to have “bullpen games” like 3 days a week.  Not to mention, his best starter, Blake Snell, missed significant time this year.  But Cash always seems to keep the Rays in the mix.  Bob Melvin deserves consideration for the job he did with the A’s as well.  AJ Hinch gets penalized for his team being too good in the first place, unfortunately.

Next:  The National League

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