…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.
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
We’ve covered the pitching, let’s move on to the rest of the roster. I promise, this one will be a lot shorter!
Here: Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez
None of these guys hit a lick this past season. I think Swihart can hit a little, but it’s unlikely he will ever get enough at-bats here to prove it. Leon was particularly putrid this year. .177 average with a .511 OPS. Wow. That’s hard to do. In almost 300 plate appearances no less.
But you know what? I completely expect Vazquez and Leon to be the catching tandem next season. They are good defensively, the pitchers love them, the manager loves them and with this overall lineup, the catchers do not really have to hit.
Swihart will most assuredly be dangled in trade talks once again. But also once again there will likely be tepid interest. I’m not sure the Sox will keep trying to groom him on the “super utility role”. I suppose we will find out this winter. If they want to truly make him that versatile, wouldn’t he play winter ball and play all over the diamond? That would make too much sense though.
Here: Xander Bogaerts (SS), Rafael Devers (3B), Marco Hernandez (UT), Brock Holt (UT), Tzu-Wei Lin (UT), Mitch Moreland (1B), Eduardo Nunez (UT), Dustin Pedroia (2B), Sam Travis (1B/LF)
Free agents: Ian Kinsler (2B), Steve Pearce (1B), Brandon Phillips (2B)
Minors: Tony Renda (UT)
The last of the World Series “heroes” to talk about? Steve Pearce. Love what he did. But he’s Steve Pearce. There are 1,000 guys that could play his role next year. If he wants a one year deal for short money to match the one year left on Moreland’s contract, I would do it. Then in 2020 maybe the team can get a real first baseman that can play every day instead of this platoon nonsense.
Who really thinks Dustin Pedroia will be ready to go Opening Day 2019? Besides Dustin Pedroia, that is. Pedey, you may be done. That knee injury is supposed to be no joke. He’s 35 years old. At this point, I’d cut him loose. But with 41 mil and 3 years left on his deal, that ain’t happening. Not to mention that the manager loves him. And he has some sort of untouchable status in the organization for whatever reason. So he’s here…unless he really cannot play. We will see. At least Holt will be here to back him up, for whatever that is worth.
Hopefully Devers takes another step forward next year, especially defensively. Nunez locked in his 5 mil player option, so he ain’t going anywhere and will likely take at-bats away from Raffy at third.
Marco missed the whole year and hopefully, he has minor league options so that he can get himself back up to speed and be organizational depth, along with Lin. I can’t imagine Kinsler will be back, but congrats to him on the Gold Glove! His career could be done, along with Phillips’. I think we’ve seen the last of Sammy Travis. Still only 25 years old, but had a poor year at AAA and his prospect days are essentially over. Renda? He was on the roster a few days this summer, scored the winning run as a pinch runner in a Sunday Night game against the Yankees as his only major league action this season. And got himself a ring because of it. Not bad. But all of this and then being outrighted to the minors after the World Series does not bode well for any future major league prospects in Boston.
I’d say that a right-handed bat for first base, either Pearce or someone else, would be the only thing the Sox address this offseason.
Here’s another thing to consider as well: Bogaerts is a free agent after the 2019 season. He is coming off his best season. 26 years old, right in his prime. He is going to want to get paid, Several other Red Sox will want to get paid. Scott Boras is his agent, so that means X will want to be unreasonably paid.
Would it shock anyone if Bogaerts is dangled in trade talks?
Here: Andrew Benintendi (LF), Mookie Betts (RF), Jackie Bradley (CF), J.D. Martinez (OF/DH)
Speaking of guys that want to get paid, J.D. can opt out after 2019 and Mookie is a free agent after 2020. So you have these two, Bogaerts, Sale and I suppose Porcello all looking for big money within the next two years. Again, the Sox can pay them all if they want. But they won’t. So are there some trade talks this offseason? I think there might be.
And out of all these guys, I’d start with…Bradley. Jackie has two arbitration years left before free agency. He will be looking for over 10 mil in arbitration this year for sure. I’d try to snow some dumb teams into overvaluing the Gold Glove and the ALCS MVP. If you don’t want to play Benny or Betts in center on a regular basis, you can find some other guy that can’t hit and play a decent center field for a fraction of the cost.
Sure, if we want the Sox to spend 500 mil on their payroll, we keep JBJ. And everyone else. But you know that just isn’t happening.
Good thing that they did win the World Series this year. Because there’s going to be some tough decisions made over the next couple of years whether they have the money to spend or not or whether we like it or not. Be ready for some of those decisions to be made as soon as this winter. And when you have a barren farm system, letting some good players go at the major league level because of money and contracts…well, that might not be a good combination.
Rest assured, the Sox will remain competitive, maybe even for championships. As noted previously, they have plenty of money to spend and will spend a great deal of it. But there could be more bodies going out the door over the next few years than we care to accept…