…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:
- Christian Yelich, Milwaukee
- Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
- Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
- Nolan Arenado, Colorado
- Jesus Aguilar, Milwaukee
- Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
- Trevor Story, Colorado
- Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati
- Matt Carpenter, St. Louis
- Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati
Honestly kind of a thin class, from what I can tell. Yelich was on fire down the stretch and that allowed him to pull away. Baez seems like a clear-cut second choice, especially when you throw in his defense. #3-#7 could maybe go in any order. Arenado is the third finalist in real life. But I continuously penalize hitters from Colorado. I’m sorry. That hurts Story of course as well. We picked Freeman third over Goldy mainly because Atlanta was in the playoffs. Aguilar had a monster year as well and the Brewers were of course also in the playoffs. I don’t know. Let’s leave them as is for lack of a better explanation.
#8-#10 had good numbers and I suppose you could mix them in any order also. We didn’t find any NL pitchers worthy of MVP consideration. And your guess is as good as mine if we had to make a #11 pick.
- Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
- Max Scherzer, Washington
- Aaron Nola, Philadelphia
- Kyle Freeland, Colorado
- Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta
Nola had a great year, but it’s really down to Jacob and Max. deGrom was on a putrid team, so his 10-9 record doesn’t look good. But his peripherals, including a sparkling 1.70 ERA, look amazing. Scherzer’s ERA of 2.53 is, of course, nothing to sneeze at. 300 K’s for Max isn’t either. But Jake struck out 269. WHIP’s are almost identical. Someone else wrote this and I cannot remember who, but it may have been more fun if deGrom didn’t win his final two starts and finished at 8-9 and won the Cy. But that being said, he gets it in a close vote. Nola was a clear-cut third.
#4-#8 I feel like you could have picked out of a hat. #6-#8 in some order would have been Patrick Corbin, Arizona, Zack Greinke, also of Arizona, and Miles Mikolas of St. Louis. These guys all had similar numbers across the board. We picked Freeland fourth because unlike Colorado hitters, we need to give Colorado pitchers extra credit for having great years there. Folty gets fifth because his team made the playoffs, really nothing more.
Rookie of the Year:
- Ronald Acuna, Atlanta & Juan Soto, Washington
- Walker Buehler, LA Dodgers
Talk about similar numbers, Acuna and Soto had them as well. Even plate appearances, where Acuna had 487 and Soto had 494. Acuna had a handful more homers and had more steals. Soto had a better average. .923 OPS for Soto versus .917 for Acuna. I say give them both a piece of this award this year and then let’s see them battle it out for the next decade plus for MVP awards. I did not pay any mind to Buehler’s fantastic Game 3 World Series start since you know we aren’t supposed to count that. But he slightly beat out St, Louis’ Jack Flaherty for third place here. Jack threw 13 2/3 more innings, but Walker got him in ERA (2.62 to 3.34) and WHIP (0.96 to 1.11). Good enough for me. A half of season from Franmil Reyes in San Diego was nice, and I’m sure promising for Padre fans. But not enough to get him in the top three.
Manager of the Year:
- Brian Snitker, Atlanta
- Gabe Kapler, Philadelphia
- Craig Counsell, Milwaukee
Snitker won 18 more games than last year and got the Braves into the playoffs. And I’ve never heard of him. I thought Bobby Cox still managed the Braves? Ok, kidding there, but this was an easy choice. Kapler didn’t make the real cut, but you can’t ignore the 14 win improvement over the last manager. Not to mention he had the Phils inexplicably in the mix until a late-season collapse. Counsell’s team won 10 more games than he did last year, so that gives him third over a real-life finalist, Bud Black. Black only won 4 more games.
As promised, the NL squad is below. 32 players are selected. 20 are supposed to be position players and 12 are supposed to be pitchers. I’ll stray from that a bit, as we always do here. Similar to the AL, 19 position players and 13 pitchers for the NL this year, but the reasoning is different. The Blowhard, in all seriousness, had problems coming up with the 32 players needed for the NL team. Each team is represented, as we know. Again, I don’t necessarily love this rule, but for all those spots, I suppose every team should have SOMEONE there. But there was one NL team that truly had ZERO real candidates. You’ll find that out soon enough. (S) for the starter. Comments below each position.
C: J.T. Realmuto, Mia (S), Francisco Cervelli, Pit
There were surprisingly several candidates at this position in the National League. But I’m sticking with my 2 catcher maximum. After Realmuto was a victim of taking only two catchers in the two previous years, he is the clear-cut starter this season. After that? HAD to go with Cervelli to back up. The Pittsburgh Pirates really do not have any candidates at all. Cervelli has missed some time with a concussion but has a .876 OPS when he has played. The only other Pirate player worth considering was their closer, Felipe Vazquez. 17 saves are great. But a 3.47 ERA and a WHIP of almost 1.35 is not. As for other dudes…Yadier Molina could have a case. Buster Posey always has a case. But Posey’s numbers are down from previous years.
1B: Freddie Freeman, Atl (S), Jesus Aguilar, Mil, Paul Goldschmidt, AZ, Joey Votto, Cin
Aguilar is a nice story, but I’m going Freeman to start. Goldy started slow but is on fire recently. Votto’s power is down, but he’s still having a nice year. If you wanted Brandon Belt instead, fine. Jose Martinez? Sure. I won’t argue about the last slot. Take whoever you want. Except for Eric Hosmer. Wow, that was a dumb contract the Padres gave him. And he ain’t doing much to earn it.
2B: Javier Baez, ChC (S), Scooter Gennett, Cin, Ozzie Albies, Atl, Asdrubal Cabrera, NYM
Baez by a slim margin over Gennett to start. Guess Gennett’s 2017 season was not a fluke, huh? Albies had a strong first half. Asdrubal? Yup. Deserved. If you wanted to take a fifth first baseman over him, I wouldn’t complain. But I’m keeping him on my squad. And no, he isn’t the only Met, if you can believe that.
3B: Eugenio Suarez, Cin (S), Nolan Arenado, Col
This is it for third base in the NL. And this year Arenado is NOT being penalized for playing in Colorado. Suarez’ overall numbers are simply better. And Max Muncy’s 20 dingers in 196 at-bats are nice. But not sure that gets him on.
SS: Brandon Crawford, SF (S), Trevor Story, Col
And…this is it for shortstop in the NL. Story is being penalized for playing in Colorado. Trea Turner? Not this year.
OF: Matt Kemp, LAD (S), Nick Markakis, Atl (S), David Peralta, AZ (S), Rhys Hoskins, Phi, Bryce Harper, Was
Matt Kemp? Nick Markakis? What year is this? Actually, even though these guys have been around forever, Kemp has actually made only two All-Star teams and Markakis…ZERO. So good for them with what they are doing this season. Peralta? Yikes! But he was really the best option for the last starting spot. I had actually originally picked Odubel Herrera instead of Hoskins…then I realized Hoskins was now pretty much an outfielder and doesn’t play much first base anymore. So I swapped them. Plus, I wanted to say that I picked Odubel, Aaron Altherr and Hoskins as All-Stars from the Phillie outfield in consecutive years. That seems a little crazy, no? Bryce…hmmm, I know. Tough call. .218 average would knock just about everyone else out of it. But power is there and OPS is too. So I said what the hell? Plus…Brandon Nimmo? Kyle Schwarber? Anyone from above I left off? I don’t think so.
P: Max Scherzer, Was (S), Jacob deGrom, NYM, Aaron Nola, Phi, Jon Lester, ChC, Miles Mikolas, StL, Patrick Corbin, AZ, Sean Newcomb, Atl, Mike Foltynewicz, Atl, Kyle Freeland, Col, Josh Hader, Mil, Sean Doolittle, Was, Brad Hand, SD, Kenley Jansen, LAD
Ouch. And…ouch…again. Take a look at the names on this list again. Max gets the start since the game is in his home park. But you could seriously give deGrom the ball. I don’t think a lot of people know what kind of season he is having because his team sucks so bad. Nola has had a nice first half as well. The rest? Ok. But most of the names are certainly underwhelming. It’s almost like I had to take Freeland because he is a starting pitcher from Colorado and with his numbers (8-6, 3.18), you have to take that into consideration. Newcomb has backslid a bit. Mikolas is the Cards rep. Folty has fewer innings than most starters. Corbin and Lester have been solid. But who’s next, Ross Stripling? Nope.
Hader was the only middle man taken on both teams. But he did close when the Brewers regular closer, Corey Knebel, was out. And you can’t scoff at 83 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings and a 1.21 ERA. In fact, there is another middle guy on his team that probably deserves consideration in Jeremy Jeffress. Hand is the Padres rep. People have been on the Kirby Yates bandwagon. Not me. Doolittle belongs. Jansen isn’t quite as dominant as he has been in previous years, but he’s still the guy to close it out if it gets to that point. Kyle Barraclough and Adam Ottavino probably deserve consideration as middle guys as well. But I’m not doing that. Maybe Raisel Iglesias as another closer. But I’m going with these guys.
Aaaaaah…feels good to be on time…for once!