Major League Baseball will start handing out the hardware for the 2018 season next week. The Gold Glove awards have already been announced. Doesn’t seem right that Ian Kinsler won one after that ridiculous throw set the Red Sox up to eventually lose Game Three of the World Series. Or at least didn’t seal up the win for the Sox. But since that was the only game of the Series that the Sox lost and it kind of was an epic game to boot, I suppose we can let him enjoy that award as he tries to find another team to employ him in 2019.
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. This will be important to remember when we look at Manager of the Year (spoiler?!). Anyway, let’s get on with it:
Most Valuable Player:
- Mookie Betts, Boston
- J.D. Martinez, Boston
- Mike Trout, LA Angels
- Alex Bregman, Houston
- Jose Ramirez, Cleveland
- Francisco Lindor, Cleveland
- Khris Davis, Oakland
- Blake Snell, Tampa Bay
- Justin Verlander, Houston
- Blake Treinen, Oakland
Now, it looks like I am a homer here, but how J.D. wasn’t a finalist in real life is beyond me. Sticking his big bat in the middle of the Red Sox lineup clearly made a colossal difference this year. They didn’t have that bat there in 2017 after the retirement of David Ortiz at the end of the 2016 season and the whole lineup seemed to suffer. Ask Betts himself, who had a huge 2016 and 2018 and a subpar 2017. I’ve been tempted to give Martinez the award, but I can’t overlook Mookie’s defense, nor his superior OPS and general all-around season. I know, it’s not J.D.’s fault he’s a DH…well, I guess it is since he ain’t that great defensively. But he WANTED to play more outfield, so I guess there’s that.
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?
Bregman was the best everyday player on a 103 win team this year. Seems like fourth is a good spot for him. Especially when considering the rest of his lineup. Last year’s MVP, Jose Altuve, did not have the same year. Carlos Correa, George Springer and Marwin Gonzalez’s numbers were way down in 2018 as well. Ramirez is a finalist in real life. But he was putrid the last six weeks. So he’s no better than fifth here. Almost put him behind Lindor as well. Davis’ average was subpar, but his other numbers were all pretty damn good. Think someone from the A’s should be recognized. After all, it’s only seventh in my vote.
Pitchers round out the Top Ten for me. As you know, I don’t love pitchers in the MVP vote, unless they are extremely dominant. But I did not have a good feeling about putting any more hitters in here. Jed Lowrie? Nelson Cruz? Mitch Haniger? Xander Bogaerts? Nope, nope, nope and…nope.
Went with Snell eighth. Wished he threw a few more innings, but he was quite dominant for a surprising Rays team. Verlander seemed like a good choice next. More on these two later. Treinen? You know my general disdain for relief pitchers. But his numbers are hard to ignore. 9 wins as a closer too. That tells me that he wasn’t just coming in for a ninth inning with a three-run lead and an easy save all the time. He must have entered more than a few tie games. I could be wrong. But that’s what it tells me anyway. Plus we like having two guys named Blake in the mix.
- Justin Verlander, Houston
- Blake Snell, Tampa Bay
- Corey Kluber, Cleveland
- Chris Sale, Boston
- Blake Treinen, Oakland
Why Verlander over Snell here, after having the reverse in the MVP race? Welp, for one, the Cy Young is not intended to be the “Most Valuable Pitcher”. This award is generally given to the best pitcher, period. And Verlander made 3 more starts than Snell, pitched 33 1/3 more innings, had 69 more strikeouts and had a better WHIP (.902 vs. .974). That offset Snell’s ERA advantage (1.89 to 2.52) for me. Snell was probably more “valuable”, simply because Verlander also had Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Lance McCullers, etc. on his staff to help carry the load while Snell had…Ryan Yarborough?
Kluber was once again a horse for the Indians. His numbers were also up there all around, though his ERA (2.89) was a full run worse than Snell’s. So that puts him third. Sale had this thing wrapped up in July…then pitched like 20 innings the rest of the year. Unfortunately had to penalize him for that. We talked about Treinen already. Again, when there are deserving starters with great numbers, it’s hard to recognize a reliever in this voting. But again, his numbers can’t be ignored. Similar to why we had Craig Kimbrel fifth last year. Have to recognize dominance when it’s out there.
I liked Treinen’s overall game better than Edwin Diaz’ 57 saves, but Diaz would be in the “second five” if we had one. Cole, Luis Severino, Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco may have been part of that group as well.
Rookie of the Year:
- Miguel Andujar, NY Yankees
- Gleyber Torres, NY Yankees
- Shohei Ohtani, LA Angels
These were the three choices this year, with all due respect to Daniel Palka and his 27 dingers and the aforementioned Yarborough and his 16 wins. Andujar was the one with the full season and the better overall numbers so he gets the nod for me. Torres came up like a whirlwind and then cooled as the season went on. He played about 75% of the games so that gives him second.
Ohtani may have been the most EXCITING rookie…not to mention the one with the most hype in years. But he simply didn’t play enough. He DH’d almost exactly half the games (82) on a normal regular season schedule. And threw up some pretty impressive numbers for that time…including 22 pinch-hitting appearances. Throw in the 10 games he pitched and you could probably make a case for him to win the award. And if he did, I wouldn’t argue. But as much as I hate the Yankees, I can’t penalize those guys for playing more…and also playing important positions in the field.
Manager of the Year:
- Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay
- Bob Melvin, Oakland
- Alex Cora, Boston
I will be the first to admit that I underrated Cora this year. I thought he was just a “clubhouse” manager. Meaning, the Sox’ talent won the games and that Cora just had to manage a clubhouse full of egos. As the year went on, I realized he was more than that. Then in the postseason, that like we said above, does not count toward this award, he pulled ALL the right strings. Literally ALL of them. Starting with the construction of the rosters for each round, down to every in-game decision.
But although he had the 108 wins and gained more appreciation from me (and most assuredly many others) throughout the year, how can anyone not vote for Cash? The Rays won 90 games. Think about that for a second. Sure, they didn’t make the playoffs. But they were behind two 100 win teams IN THEIR OWN DIVISION. Look at that roster. They had Blake Snell and…Wilson Ramos? Mallex Smith? Ummmmm…no one really of relevance. Even a guy that usually is a key piece to their team, Kevin Kiermaier, had a putrid year. The team traded guys like Chris Archer at the trade deadline, per usual. And they won 90 friggin’ games. Plus, don’t overlook the new trend “Cashie” started…the “opener”. Yarborough won 16 games and only started 6. Lot’s of second and third inning entrances. At the beginning of the year, teams and players laughed at Cash for doing this. By the end, many teams were copying him. Ask Craig Counsell and the Milwaukee Brewers, who worked some of that all the way to Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.
Melvin gets second for winning 97 games with a team that had loads of power (and strikeouts), good defense a great closer, a good bullpen, yet only one real starter himself (Sean Manaea). He had to roll Edwin Jackson out there for 17 starts for Chrissakes! Jackson actually pitched well, but what was this, Jackson’s 20th MLB team? Being in a division with a 103 win Houston team, as well as a Seattle Mariner team that was right in the mix until late in the year. Seems to me he earned second for this one.
Next: The National League