The conclusion of the 2013 Major League Baseball regular season is a time for reflection and analysis, especially when it comes to the awards voting and trying to determine which players were the best of the best.
While we don't have an official vote with the BBWAA, sadly, Bleacher Report's five MLB lead writers have put their best foot forward to tell you who they believe should win awards in the eight major categories.
The group includes Jason Catania, Joe Giglio, Jason Martinez, Zach Rymer and yours truly, Adam Wells. This is not a collective group vote, rather five opinions, some differing and some agreeing, about what they would do if they had a ballot.
Without further ado, here are the official B/R MLB lead writer postseason award picks for the 2013 MLB season.
Jason Catania's AL Rookie of the Year Analysis
A few starters merited consideration, namely Dan Straily, Chris Archer and Martin Perez, while Jose Iglesias' stellar defense (and surprising stick) helped two AL contenders in the same year. But this one goes to Myers, who debuted in mid-June and proceeded to prove he belonged in the bigs. Plus, he gets bonus points for having the potential at the greatest career going forward.
Joe Giglio's NL Rookie of the Year Analysis
As I argued during September, Puig didn't just have a good rookie season, he had an all-time great campaign. His performance was deserving of at least a place on the MVP ballot. While he won't win that award like Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki did in their respective rookie/MVP years, it's impossible for me to consider him for that ballot, yet not top the ROY list.
Jason Catania's AL MVP Analysis
This is the lose-lose selection.
While my head really wanted to pick Mike Trout, who is the best all-around player in baseball—hands down—my heart still subscribes enough to the winning-matters-too approach when evaluating which player was most valuable. In that regard, Cabrera did what he did, which was improve on his historic Triple Crown-winning 2012, while propelling the Tigers to the AL Central title and 93 wins—15 more than the sub-.500 Angels managed.
Forgive me, fellow numbers nerds.
Zach Rymer's NL MVP Analysis
As I argued back in August, it's simple: McCutchen was the best player in the National League this season. He excelled in hitting, baserunning and on defense out in center field. That he was the lone superstar on a Cinderella Pirates team is icing on the cake.
Zach Rymer's AL Cy Young Analysis
Props go out to Hisashi Iwakuma, Anibal Sanchez, Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale, but this is a case where I happen to agree with what a guy's record has to say about him. Max Scherzer was the best and most consistent pitcher in the American League in 2013. Watching him do it with better control of his typically dominant stuff was a real treat.
Jason Martinez's NL Cy Young Analysis
After capturing his third consecutive ERA title and leading the majors in strikeouts for the second time in three years, Kershaw's success is starting to become reminiscent of former Dodgers lefty Sandy Koufax. The difference is that Koufax didn't start dominating until his age 26 season. Kershaw will only be entering his age 26 season in 2014.
Joe Giglio's AL Manager of the Year Analysis
85 wins out of a roster that featured the following for at least part of the season: Luis Cruz, Reid Brignac, Brent Lillibridge, Thomas Neal, Corban Joseph, Travis Ishikawa, and someone named Jim Miller. Despite injuries to his first baseman, shortstop, third baseman, backup third baseman, left fielder and starting catcher, Girardi had the Yankees in the race until the last week of the year.
There's a reason why teams will throw money at him to manage their roster. He's tremendous.
Jason Martinez's NL Manager of the Year Analysis
It took Hurdle six years to turn around a Rockies team that went on to win the NL pennant in 2007. In half that time, it's clear that he has changed the culture in Pittsburgh to one where winning is the expectation. And that's not easy to do after 20 straight losing seasons.
I feel I will have to defend my selection of Felix Hernandez over Max Scherzer for AL Cy Young more than any other pick on the list, so allow me to explain.
It's an incredibly tight race between Hernandez and Scherzer, and I wouldn't be upset if you were to tell me Scherzer wins. But it ultimately comes down to just raw numbers, which do favor Scherzer most of the time, against quality of competition, which strongly favors Hernandez.
As I wrote in a debate with Joe Giglio last month, nearly half of Scherzer's starts came against offenses that ranked in the bottom half of the league in runs and he pitched more games against teams with high strikeout totals.
Hernandez had to play in front of the worst defense in baseball, yet finished with a lower fielding independent ERA (2.61 to 2.74) and expected fielding independent ERA (2.66 to 3.16).
Jonah Keri of Grantland wrote in his postseason awards piece that Hernandez had to face opponents with a weighted OPS of .751, compared to .730 for Scherzer.
All of those numbers put together give Hernandez a slim edge over Scherzer, to me, in the race for the AL Cy Young. But I am obviously in the minority compared to my B/R brethren.
The other area of controversy, at least to some, will likely be the AL MVP. Three of us favor Mike Trout, while Miguel Cabrera grabbed the other two votes.
This all comes down to how you define value. As Jason said in his write-up, with a very vague definition from the BBWAA, value is very subjective.
A large section of people will define it as the best player on a playoff team, though that punishes a player widely regarded as the best in baseball because the front office he plays for isn't as good at building a team as some other player.
Cabrera is a fantastic player, no one denies that, and he is going to win another MVP award. But Trout is the better player and adds more value on the field than anyone else in the sport.
One surprise to me was the division among AL Manager of the Year candidates, as well as one name that didn't make the list. John Farrell is going to win the award because he was leading the team one year after the Bobby Valentine fiasco.
But Joe Girardi, Joe Maddon and Terry Francona (who didn't get a vote) all have very strong cases, as well. Maddon's genius tends to go unappreciated because the Rays have become a playoff fixture, but no one plays matchups and strategy better.
Other than those categories, there is so much agreement going on. Sometimes it can't be helped, like who is really going to argue against Clayton Kershaw for the NL Cy Young? No one, because you can't do it with a straight face.
Andrew McCutchen could have been the NL MVP last year, and most certainly was the best and most valuable player in the league this year.
All in all, despite some contention here and there, this is a very cohesive list of awards winners from the B/R MLB staff. We shall see if the voting supports their cases, while you can also offer your thoughts in the comments section.
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