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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. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
  3. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
  4. Nolan Arenado, Colorado
  5. Jesus Aguilar, Milwaukee
  6. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
  7. Trevor Story, Colorado
  8. Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati
  9. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis
  10. 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.

Cy Young:

  1. Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
  2. Max Scherzer, Washington
  3. Aaron Nola, Philadelphia
  4. Kyle Freeland, Colorado
  5. 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:

  1. Ronald Acuna, Atlanta & Juan Soto, Washington
  2. 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:

  1. Brian Snitker, Atlanta
  2. Gabe Kapler, Philadelphia
  3. 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.

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American League Awards

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:

  1. Mookie Betts, Boston
  2. J.D. Martinez, Boston
  3. Mike Trout, LA Angels
  4. Alex Bregman, Houston
  5. Jose Ramirez, Cleveland
  6. Francisco Lindor, Cleveland
  7. Khris Davis, Oakland
  8. Blake Snell, Tampa Bay
  9. Justin Verlander, Houston
  10. 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.

Cy Young:

  1. Justin Verlander, Houston
  2. Blake Snell, Tampa Bay
  3. Corey Kluber, Cleveland
  4. Chris Sale, Boston
  5. 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:

  1. Miguel Andujar, NY Yankees
  2. Gleyber Torres, NY Yankees
  3. 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:

  1. Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay
  2. Bob Melvin, Oakland
  3. 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

National League Hardware…

…same full disclosure as last year:  The Blowhard watches a whole helluva more American League baseball than National League.  This may be quick…

Most Valuable Player:

  1. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami
  2. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
  3. Joey Votto, Cincinnati
  4. Charlie Blackmon, Colorado
  5. Nolan Arenado, Colorado
  6. Cody Bellinger, LA Dodgers
  7. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington
  8. Marcell Ozuna, Miami
  9. Bryce Harper, Washington
  10. Travis Shaw, Milwaukee

I wanted to give this to Goldschmidt.  And I still probably should have.  But Stanton’s numbers are hard to ignore.  And so was Goldschmidt’s September (.175/3/11), which you know I weigh pretty heavily all around.  Votto had some crazy numbers and led the league in WAR, again, if you fancy that stat.  Maybe I’m blinded by the homers, but I’m narrowly going with Stanton here.  If Goldschmidt wins in real life, I won’t argue.

You know how I feel about the inflated Colorado numbers.  But Blackmon and Arenado put up some huge ones, so they have to be in here somewhere.  Bellinger was big once they brought him up.  Zimmerman’s season came completely out of nowhere.  Hmmmmmm…Ozuna’s numbers were laaaaaahge.  Harper missed about 50 games himself, but just like we did in the AL, we like to include those guys in the voting.  But, in all seriousness, Bryce may have very well been on his way to the actual award if he stayed healthy.  So he really has to be here.  Shawsie 10th?  Probably not.  But the Blowhard certainly did want to recognize him here for his great year…and for the Red Sox’ mistake in giving him away for nothing.  Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Daniel Murphy, Scooter, Genn…anyway, plenty of other guys could get some love for the Top Ten as well.  It’s all a guessing game once you get past the first few.

I could have also added J.D. Martinez somewhere in these columns.  29 homers and 65 RBIs in 62 games in Arizona.  1.107 OPS.  AZ made the playoffs…J.D. hit .303/45/104 between Detroit and Arizona.  Nice year.  He may actually get top ten votes in the NL for real.

Cy Young:

  1. Max Scherzer, Washington
  2. Clayton Kershaw, LA Dodgers
  3. Stephen Strasburg, Washington
  4. Kenley Jansen, LA Dodgers
  5. Corey Knebel, Milwaukee

Down to Max and Clayton.  Scherzer made 4 more starts than Kershaw and that pretty much vaulted him into the top spot for me.  Hated putting two relievers in the top five, but they had dominant seasons.  There were some other starters that had some pretty good numbers, but they simply didn’t pitch enough innings.  Even Kershaw and Strasburg were at about 175.  Robbie Ray, Alex Wood…not enough.  Zack Greinke went over 200 innings, but his 3.20 ERA was a little high for me, comparatively speaking to the other candidates of course.

Rookie of the Year:

  1. Cody Bellinger, LA Dodgers
  2. Josh Bell, Pittsburgh
  3. Paul DeJong, St. Louis

Bellinger should be unanimous.  Bell was around all year and that basically gives him second.  DeJong spent the first 50 or so games in AAA, so that puts him third.  Same goes for Ian Happ from the Cubs.  If you wanted to put Happ third instead, I won’t argue.  But he was the only other guy worth considering for the top three.

Manager of the Year:

  1. Torey Lovullo, Arizona
  2. Dave Roberts, LA Dodgers
  3. Craig Counsell, Milwaukee

Slam dunk here too, even though Roberts’ Dodgers finished 11 games ahead of Lovullo’s Diamondbacks.  I think we all knew the Dodgers would be good.  Lovullo took arguably the same type of players from 2016 and guided the team to 24 more wins and a playoff spot.  Counsell took the Brewers to 13 more wins this year, even though they fell just short of the playoffs.  I couldn’t do Dusty Baker this year.  Certainly not Joe Maddon.  Bud Black?  Meh…

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