…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
- Cody Bellinger, LA Dodgers
- Anthony Rendon, Washington
- Ketel Marte, Arizona
- Nolan Arenado, Colorado
- Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
- Pete Alonso, NY Mets
- Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati
- Juan Soto, Washington
- 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.
- Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
- Hyun-Jin Ryu, LA Dodgers
- Max Scherzer, Washington
- Stephen Strasburg, Washington
- 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:
- Pete Alonso, NY Mets
- Pete Alonso, NY Mets
- 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:
- Craig Counsell, Milwaukee
- Mike Shildt, St. Louis
- 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?
NL squad is below. 32 players selected, 20 position players and 12 pitchers. Each team is represented, as we know. (S) for the starter. Comments below each position.
C: Willson Contreras, ChC (S), Yasmani Grandal, Mil
Pretty easy. J.T. Realmuto was the only other option. Moving on.
1B: Josh Bell, Pit (S), Freddie Freeman, Atl, Pete Alonso, NYM, Max Muncy, LAD, Rhys Hoskins, Phi
DEEP position this year. I wanted to find room for Anthony Rizzo (ChC)…and I should have. Even Eric Hosmer (SD) and his ridiculous contract have 57 RBIs this year. But…you know, team and position constraints kept those guys off. Even with five making it. Because, you know, there is no DH in the National League. So there’s room for at least these five. Bell starts, yup, highest OPS. But if you went Freeman or Alonso, no worries. Alonso…what a year for the rookie. Something for Mets fans to cheer about. Well, unless you like clubhouse confrontations with reporters, that is. I thought Muncy’s year last year was a total fluke. Count me wrong on that…again. Inexplicably, Hoskins is the Philly rep. Hope that 13-year contract for Bryce Harper works out over the last 12 years anyway.
2B: Ketel Marte, AZ (S), Mike Moustakas, Mil
Cut and dried here too. Maybe Ozzie Albies (Atl) gets some votes. Didn’t see this out of Marte? Neither did most. And Moose playing second? No problem. He just keeps hitting dingers. Looks like he will be playing more third these days, but since he started out the year at second and has played a smidge more games there, we are slotting him here.
3B: Anthony Rendon, Was (S), Nolan Arenado, Col, Kris Bryant, ChC
Someone is going to pay Rendon a lot of money next offseason. Arenado is STILL getting penalized for being a Rockie. But you know what? We should actually be giving him some props. He got a sh%t-ton of money to stay in Denver. BUT, a lot of players STILL would have left. If he plays his whole career in Coors Field, he will glide into the Hall of Fame (barring injury. See: Helton, Todd). Anyone who leaves Colorado is foolish, in my opinion. They should take less money to stay. Helps their career. Anyway, we are still starting Rendon. Why? OPS is higher!! Bryant seems to be back on track. Plus he still plays the outfield. So there’s that. We also considered Eduardo Escobar (AZ). Yup, we did. And Manny Machado (SD). Not to be.
SS: Javier Baez, ChC (S), Trevor Story, Col
Paul DeJong (StL) and Dansby Swanson (Atl) merited consideration. But we are not there yet.
OF: Clay Bellinger, LAD (S), Christian Yelich, Mil (S), Juan Soto, Was (S), Ronald Acuna, Atl, Marcell Ozuna, StL, Charlie Blackmon, Col
Guess Yelich’s MVP year wasn’t a fluke, eh? So maybe Mookie’s was…which doesn’t help the writer. Anyway, Bellinger is apparently the real deal as well. Those two look like they will be fighting for the MVP this year. Another nice battle is between the kids, Soto and Acuna. We will be looking at them for years to come too. Soto gets the start, want to guess why? Hint: OPS!! Ozuna was taken over DeJong as remarkably the only guy from the Cards. Blackmon? Sigh…Colorado. But sometimes it is just impossible to ignore the pure numbers, regardless of the park. Jeez, even David Dahl (yes, Col) put himself in the mix this year. Hunter Renfroe (SD)? No room. Same can be said for Jeff McNeil (NYM) and his .341 average.
P: Max Scherzer, Was (S), Hyun-Jin Ryu, LAD, Mike Soroka, Atl, Jacob deGrom, NYM, Luis Castillo, Cin, Caleb Smith, Mia, Zack Greinke, AZ, Walker Buehler, LAD, Clayton Kershaw, LAD, Will Smith, SF, Josh Hader, Mil, Kirby Yates, SD
Honestly, the only other guys I considered here were Cole Hamels (ChC) and Felipe Vazquez (Pit). Maybe even Chris Paddack (SD). But this was kind of an easy list here. An impressive one? Not really. But these are the guys. Ryu is having a tremendous year. 7 walks all year in 103 innings? Awesome! I like Max’s overall numbers better, however. If you want to start Ryu, no worries here. But those are the two candidates. Caleb Smith is a stretch, but he is the Marlin rep. Castillo, Yates and Will Smith are their teams’ respective reps, but those were easy calls, to be honest. To steal a quote from last years’ column, I wasn’t on the Yates bandwagon then, but am certainly now. deGrom isn’t putting up as sick numbers as he did last season, but they are still nice. Kershaw isn’t as dominant as he has been in the past, but he is still getting it done. Not much else to say here.
Sssssoooooo…lets see how we match up against the real selections…