Now that the World Series is finished, there’s one big piece of drama still left in the 2017 baseball season: The awards.
Next week, the Baseball Writers Association of America is handing out the awards for Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young and MVP. But first, we’re getting three finalists in each category, so we can ponder and debate for a week before the awards are handed out. Well, some categories don’t need to be pondered too much. See: AL Rookie of the Year.
Here’s a rundown of all the finalists, plus our take on the field and one or more notable snubs.
This will be a tight matchup between Judge and Altuve. Judge had the higher highs (and the lower lows) but Altuve was consistent from start to finish. Judge’s strong finish — including 15 homers in September — put him back in the conversation. But will it be enough to make up for his post-All-Star slump? Altuve seems to have a slight edge, but it’s no guarantee he’ll win.
This is the first full season in his career that Mike Trout won’t finish in the top two of MVP votes. Missing a portion of the season with injury is to blame there.
This might be the toughest award of them all, since each finalist brings something different to the conversation. Goldschmidt is your typical candidate, good across and board the played for a winner. Stanton’s offensive assault might be more impressive in a few categories, but his team didn’t make the postseason, which matters to some voters. And Votto will inspire an argument all his own. His team lost 94 games but his .454 on-base percentage was easily tops in MLB and he complemented that with 36 homers, 100 RBIs and 106 runs scored.
The Rockies are feeling the snub right now. Both Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado deserve some MVP love and they’ll get plenty of votes. They’re just not in the top three. Perhaps their stellar seasons stole votes from each other.
NL CY YOUNG
• Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
• Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
• Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
Scherzer seems like the favorite here, as he pitched more innings and struck out more batters than Kershaw, whose NL-best 18 wins and 2.31 are in his favor. Strasburg was good, especially in the second half, but this comes down to Kershaw vs. Scherzer.
These are the correct three finalists, but expect Robbie Ray of the Diamondbacks and Gio Gonzalez of the Nats to also get some love down the ballot from voters.
AL CY YOUNG
• Luis Severino, New York Yankees
• Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
• Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians
There’s a good debate to be had here between Sale and Kluber. Sale was MLB’s strikeout king, but Kluber had the better ERA. Part of that is Sale losing some of his mojo toward the end of the season. Sale looked like a sure-thing early in the year, but Kluber was better down the stretch. Kluber will be fresher in the mind of voters, so that should give him a slight edge.
Like in the NL, these are the best three finalists. Carlos Carrasco, Kluber’s Cleveland teammate, is certainly worthy of some down-ballot attention after 18 wins and a 3.29 ERA.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
• Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles
• Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox
• Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
Judge, no doubt about it. Zero.
Astros fans will be upset that Yuli Gurriel didn’t get a nod after hitting .299 with 18 homers and 75 RBIs. Likewise, Matt Chapman of the A’s and Mitch Haniger of the Mariners both fared well, according to Wins Above Replacement. But they’re all competing for something beyond first place because this is Judge’s award.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
• Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates
• Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals
• Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers
Bellinger, and it’s as sure of a thing as Judge winning in the AL.
Like the AL, it doesn’t matter a ton, because there’s a no-doubt winner. But we’ll say this: Phillies wunderkind Rhys Hoskins was more valuable in 50 games (2.2 fWAR) than Bell was (0.8 fWAR) in 159 games. It’s a small-sample size, sure, but he did have a big impact in Philly.
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
• Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians
• A.J. Hinch, Houston Astros
• Paul Molitor, Minnesota Twins
All fine choices and Manager of the Year is sometimes the most unpredictable category. Voters will give votes to the manager whose team most surpassed expectations (that would be Molitor) or they’ll give them to manager with the best record (Francona). The Indians’ big winning streak seems to give Francona a slight advantage here.
It’s easier this way for the Yankees, but Joe Girardi can expect to get some down-ballot votes for his team’s surprising season. Even though, you know, he was fired afterward.
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
• Bud Black, Colorado Rockies
• Torey Lovullo, Arizona Diamondbacks
• Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers
Look at those all NL West managers! Lovullo should be considered the favorite here for the way he turned around an under-performing D-backs team and made them one of the best in the NL. They went from 69-93 to 96-69. Nice!
Craig Counsell, whose Brewers won a surprising 86 games in the NL Central, probably deserved a top-3 finish here. We’d be shocked if he’s too much further down the list.
THE WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED …
Awards will be handed out daily starting next Monday. First up are Rookie of the Year awards on Nov. 13, then Manager of the Year on Nov. 14, Cy Young on Nov. 15 and MVP on Nov. 16. The announcements will air at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network.
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