The 2013 MLB postseason is in full swing, but, for the time being, we'll turn our attention back to the regular season in order to hand out Bleacher Report's awards for the the 2013 MLB season.
Included is a look at each of the traditional awards including: MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Rolaids Relief Man of the Year as well as the Gold Glove winners.
However, I've also included a look at my All-MLB team, All-Rookie team and All-Bust team, which analyzes the best and worst values of last year's free agent class. And I even a look at the best blooper and best facial hair of the season.
So without further ado, let's dive into the B/R's 2013 MLB awards.
We'll start things off on a light note here with the all-important "Best Facial Hair Award." And while there is no Rollie Fingers of even Clay Zavada in the league these days, there were still some solid candidates.
Josh Reddick sported an impressive beard in Oakland, Jayson Werth continued sporting the caveman look in Washington, and Carlos Villanueva had perhaps the league's best mustache in Chicago.
The choice here though is Jonny Gomes, who joined the Red Sox s a free agent last offseason and brought a whole culture of beard-growing along with him. Fellow Red Sox newcomer Mike Napoli also helped start the trend, but now, the entire Red Sox roster sports facial hair (for the most part), and it's helped bring the AL's top team together during their bounce-back season.
Sticking to the lighter side of things, we turn our attention to the top bloopers of the season, and this one was a relatively easy choice.
For months, SportsCenter fans were treated to Mark Sanchez and the "butt fumble" as the undisputed "Worst of the Worst" winner, but Astros shortstop Jonathan Villar gave us his own version of a butt-gaffe in September during what quickly became known as the "butt tag."
The speedy Villar tried to stretch a single into a double, but was out by a good amount. And with Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips forced to make a nifty between the legs tag, he wound up sliding face first right into the backside of Phillips.
Hence, the "butt tag."
The honorable mention here goes to Marlins reliever Chad Qualls, who tripped and fell over nothing while walking off the field pumping his fist after recording a strikeout for the final out.
Contract: Four years, $52 million
After missing out on signing Anibal Sanchez, the Cubs moved on to Plan B last offseason and gave well-traveled veteran Edwin Jackson a four-year deal in an effort to improve their pitching staff while they continued to rebuild.
The Cubs became Jackson's eighth big-league team in 11 seasons, and his seventh in the past six years. But even throughout all of that uniform changing, he had been a consistent and reliable middle-of-the-rotation guy—until this season.
The 30-year-old was 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA with the Nationals in 2012, and he had won double-digit games and thrown at least 180 innings in each of the past five seasons entering 2013.
His first year in Chicago was nothing short of a disaster, though, as he pitched past the sixth inning just eight times and recorded only 14 quality starts in 31 games. The Cubs are now on the hook for $39 million over the next three years.
Contract: One-year, $1 million (plus $3.5 million in incentives); 2014 team option ($8 million)
After originally agreeing to a two-year, $12.75 million deal with the Pirates, Francisco Liriano broke his non-throwing arm the day before he was supposed to sign and wound up having to take a one-year, incentive-laden deal with a team option for 2014.
He didn't make his debut until May 11, but it didn't take long for him to show the Pirates that they had made a smart move, and by June, he was the ace of the staff.
Liriano has always had the stuff to be an ace, and he looked like a star after going 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA and 10.7 K/9 as a 22-year-old rookie for Minnesota in 2006. Injuries had derailed his career for a while before this season, though.
He was just 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA in 34 games (28 starts) in 2012 while splitting the season with the Twins and White Sox, but the 29-year-old looks to have gotten things back on track now.
Contract: Five years, $75.25 million
From a tools standpoint, there are few players in the MLB who are more talented than B.J. Upton. However, from a production standpoint, he has rarely lived up to his vast potential.
After hitting .300/.396/.508 with 24 home runs and 22 steals as a 22-year-old in his first full season back in 2007, he looked like a superstar in the making.
In the five years after that, though, he has hit just .248/.330/.416 while averaging 18 home runs and 39 steals per season. In a contract year in 2012, he launched a career-high 28 home runs but hit .246 with a dreadful .298 on-base percentage in the process.
That didn't stop the Braves from shelling out a ton of money to sign him as a replacement for Michael Bourn, though, and it's now abundantly clear they would have been better off re-signing Bourn. Upton dealt with some injuries this season as well, and he was nothing short of terrible in the 126 games he did play.
He now finds himself on the bench in October.
Contract: One-year, $700,000
After a dreadful start to the 2012 season, the Cubs traded Marlon Byrd to the injury-depleted Red Sox on April 21 for reliever Michael Bowden.
He made it less than two months in Boston before being released, and he would spend the rest of 2012 as a free agent, finishing the year with a .210/.243/.245 line over 143 at-bats.
That was followed by a 50-game PED suspension, and he entered last offseason with very little in the way of big-league options. The Mets signed him to a minor-league deal, though, and their lack of options in the outfield allowed him to break camp with the team.
From there, he quickly played his way into everyday at-bats and wound up being one of the most sought after bats at the deadline. He was eventually traded to the Pirates in August, and he has played a key role for them as their everyday right fielder.
The following list does not simply the worst players at each position. Rather, it features the players at each position who fell well-sort of their respective expectations heading into the season:
|C J.P. Arencibia, TOR||.194/.227/.365||92||18||0||21||55||45||0|
|1B Ike Davis, NYM||.205/.326/.334||65||14||0||9||33||37||4|
|2B Dan Uggla, ATL||.179/.309/.362||80||10||3||22||55||60||2|
|SS Starlin Castro, CHC||.245/.284/.347||163||34||2||10||44||59||9|
|3B Mike Moustakas, KC||.233/.287/.364||110||26||0||12||42||42||2|
|LF Mike Morse, SEA/BAL||.215/.270/.381||67||13||0||13||27||34||0|
|CF B.J. Upton, ATL||.184/.268/.289||72||14||0||9||26||30||12|
|RF Josh Hamilton, LAA||.250/.307/.432||144||32||5||21||79||73||4|
The Blue Jays undoubtedly regret trading for R.A. Dickey for more reasons than one, and giving up top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud is no doubt among them, as J.P. Arencibia didn't provide much offense outside of his 21 home runs.
Ike Davis struggled to the point of demotion this year after finishing the 2012 season strong, while Dan Uggla finds himself off the Braves postseason roster, despite a $13 million salary and in favor of the light-hitting Elliot Johnson.
Starlin Castro took a big step back in 2013 after racking up 529 hits and a .297 average through his first three seasons. Mike Moustakas looked like a breakout candidate after a big spring training, but he just never got things going offensively.
It's a tough call between B.J. Upton (five-year, $75.5 million) and Josh Hamilton (five-year, $125 million) as to who was the worst free-agent signing of the offseason. Mike Morse hit .293/.341/.732 with six home runs and nine RBI in his first 10 games of the season, then hit .203/.259/.328 with seven home runs and 18 RBI over his next 78 games.
|Josh Johnson, TOR||16/16||2-8||6.20||1.660||30||83||81.1|
|Joe Blanton, LAA||28/20||2-14||6.04||1.613||34||108||132.2|
|Barry Zito, SF||30/25||5-11||5.74||1.703||54||86||133.1|
|Edinson Volquez, SD/LAD||33/32||9-12||5.71||1.585||77||142||170.1|
|Vance Worley, MIN||10/10||1-5||7.21||1.993||15||25||48.2|
|Drew Storen, WSH||68/0||4-2||4.52||1.362||3-of-8||8.5||61.2|
|Joel Hanrahan, BOS||9/0||0-1||9.82||2.182||4-of-6||6.1||7.1|
|Brandon League, LAD||58/0||6-4||5.30||1.546||14-of-19||114||135.1|
Offseason additions Josh Johnson and Joe Blanton contributed greatly to the struggles of their respective teams, and Johnson will be an interesting case in free agency this winter, as he remains a talented pitcher but was absolutely horrible this year.
Mercifully for the Giants, the seven-year, $126 million Barry Zito debacle is finally over. Meanwhile, it's almost impossible to believe that Edinson Volquez and Vance Worley took the ball for their respective teams on Opening Day.
Drew Storen looked like a future star after saving 43 games in 2011, but injuries cut his 2012 short, and he struggled to the point of demotion this season.
Joel Hanrahan was an absolute bust in Boston, and the fact that the team gave up Mark Melancon to get him makes it that much tougher to swallow. The three-year, $22.5 million deal the Dodgers gave Brandon League looked like an ill-advised move from the start, and he finds himself off their postseason roster.
Each year Topps baseball card company names their All-Rookie team. I've expanded my roster here to include a full rotation and three bullpen spots, but it's the same idea:
|C Evan Gattis, ATL||.243/.291/.480||86||21||0||21||65||44||0|
|1B Matt Adams, STL||.284/.335/.503||84||14||0||17||51||46||0|
|2B Jedd Gyorko, SD||.249/.301/.444||121||26||0||23||63||62||1|
|SS Jose Iglesias, BOS/DET||.303/.349/.386||106||16||2||3||29||39||5|
|3B Nolan Arenado, COL||.267/.301/.405||130||29||4||10||52||49||2|
|OF Yasiel Puig, LAD||.319/.391/.534||122||21||2||19||42||66||11|
|OF Wil Myers, TB||.293/.354/.478||98||23||0||13||53||50||5|
|OF J.B. Shuck, LAA||.293/.331/.366||128||20||3||2||39||60||8|
Though he split the season between catcher and outfield, Evan Gattis is the choice behind the plate, and with Yan Gomes losing his rookie eligibility last year, there were really no other viable options.
Matt Adams spent much of the season as a pinch-hitter, though he has recently moved into the everyday role with Allen Craig sidelined, and he has provided plenty of power this season. Speaking of power, Jedd Gyorko moved from third base to second base in order to get into the team's everyday lineup, and he led all rookies with 23 home runs.
Defense reigns supreme on the left side of the infield, where Jose Iglesias has always been a slick fielder but provided far more offense than expected this season. Also, Nolan Arenado looks to be the front-runner for the Gold Glove at third base in the NL, and he also led all rookies with 130 hits.
Yasiel Puig and Wil Myers are clear choices for two of the outfield spots, as both gave their respective teams a huge spark offensively. J.B. Shuck, who made the most of an injury to Peter Bourjos this season, edges out A.J. Pollock, Juan Lagares, David Lough and Kole Calhoun for the third outfield spot.
|Jose Fernandez, MIA||28/28||12-6||2.19||0.979||58||187||172.2|
|Hyun-Jin Ryu, LAD||30/30||14-8||3.00||1.203||49||154||192|
|Julio Teheran, ATL||30/30||14-8||3.20||1.174||45||170||185.2|
|Shelby Miller, STL||31/31||15-9||3.06||1.206||57||169||173.1|
|Tony Cingrani, CIN||23/18||7-4||2.92||1.099||43||120||104.2|
|Paco Rodriguez, LAD||76||3-4||2.32||0.902||2-of-5||10.4||54.1|
|Trevor Rosenthal, STL||74||2-4||2.63||1.102||3-of-8||12.9||75.1|
|Jim Henderson, MIL||61||5-5||2.70||1.133||28-of-32||11.3||60|
The 2013 class of rookie pitchers may wind up being the best of all-time when all is said and done. Jose Fernandez led the way with a season that would win the Cy Young more times than not, and he was followed by the trio of Hyun-Jin Ryu, Julio Teheran and Shelby Miller, all of whom played a key role in their team making the playoffs.
Tony Cingrani gets the final rotation spot over the likes of Gerrit Cole (10-7. 3.22 ERA), Chris Archer (9-7, 3.22 ERA), Zack Wheeler (7-5, 3.42 ERA) and Martin Perez (10-6, 3.62 ERA).
The bullpen features two of the best setup men in all of baseball in Paco Rodriguez and Trevor Rosenthal, with Indians right-hander Cody Allen (77 G, 2.43 ERA, 11.3 K/9) certainly worth mentioning as well. Jim Henderson was the top rookie closer, and he did a great job stepping in for John Axford.
The MLB does not officially name an All-MLB team, but we will here nonetheless:
|C Yadier Molina, STL||.319/.359/.477||161||44||0||12||80||68||3|
|1B Paul Goldschmidt, ARI||.302/.401/.551||182||36||3||36||125||103||15|
|2B Matt Carpenter, STL||.318/.392/.481||199||55||7||11||78||126||3|
|SS Hanley Ramirez, LAD||.345/.402/.638||105||25||2||20||57||62||10|
|3B Miguel Cabrera, DET||.348/.442/.636||193||26||1||44||137||103||3|
|OF Mike Trout, LAA||.323/.432/.557||190||39||9||27||97||109||33|
|OF Andrew McCutchen, PIT||.317/.404/.508||185||38||5||21||84||97||27|
|OF Shin-Soo Choo, CIN||.285/.423/.462||162||34||2||21||54||107||20|
Yadier Molina anchors this group behind the plate, edging out Buster Posey and Joe Mauer for the catcher spot. In fact, Molina was a legitimate NL MVP candidate before a slow finish to the season, and he is as important as any player in the league to the success of his team.
Paul Goldschmidt and Matt Carpenter edge out Chris Davis and Robinson Cano to make up the right side of the infield. While Davis led all of baseball with 53 home runs and had a great season, Goldschmidt had the better all-around numbers, and Carpenter gets the nod thanks to pacing the majors in hits, runs and doubles.
Hanley Ramirez is the choice over Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop. While he missed most of the first two months of the season, he was as big a reason as anyone for the Dodgers turnaround. There is no surprise at third base, where Cabrera beats out Adrian Beltre, Josh Donaldson, David Wright, Manny Machado and Evan Longoria at what has become a very deep position.
Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen are easy choices for the first two outfield spots, but the third was perhaps the toughest of any of the selections. In the end, I went with Shin-Soo Choo, who finished second in the NL with a .423 on-base percentage and gave the Reds' offense exactly what they needed from him out of the leadoff spot.
|Clayton Kershaw, LAD||33/33||16-9||1.83||0.915||52||232||236|
|Max Scherzer, DET||32/32||21-3||2.90||0.970||56||240||214.1|
|Yu Darvish, TEX||32/32||13-9||2.83||1.073||80||277||209.2|
|Adam Wainwright, STL||34/34||19-9||2.94||1.068||35||219||241.2|
|Jose Fernandez, MIA||28/28||12-6||2.19||0.979||58||187||172.2|
|Koji Uehara, BOS||73||4-1||1.09||0.565||21-of-24||12.2||74.1|
|Greg Holland, KC||68||2-1||1.21||0.866||47-of-50||13.8||67|
|Craig Kimbrel, ATL||68||4-3||1.21||0.881||50-of-55||13.2||67|
No real surprises in the rotation, where Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Yu Darvish are clear choices at the top three spots, and it's hard to argue with the numbers Jose Fernandez and Adam Wainwright put up.
The toughest to snub was Mets ace Matt Harvey, while Hisashi Iwakuma, Felix Hernandez, Bartolo Colon, Chris Sale, Anibal Sanchez, Zack Greinke, Cliff Lee and Madison Bumgarner all just missed the cut as well.
The three bullpen choices are relatively easy, as Koji Uehara may have been the best all-around reliever in baseball, while Greg Holland and Craig Kimbrel were the best full-season closers in their respective leagues.
Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera, Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon, Kenley Jansen, Grant Balfour, Aroldis Chapman and Trevor Rosenthal are all worthy of mention here as well.
This one is a relatively easy choice, as Craig Kimbrel looks like a shoe-in to take home NL Rolaids Relief Man honors for the second straight season.
He led the NL in saves for a third consecutive season, nailing down a career-high 50, and if you were to take out a brief hiccup in May in which he allowed three earned runs in 1.2 innings of work and blew a pair of saves, he was 50-of-52 on save chances with an 0.82 ERA over his other 66 appearances.
Kenley Jansen was not the Dodgers closer all season, but he could give Kimbrel a run for his money next year, as he was 28-of-32 on saves opportunities with a 1.88 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 76.2 innings of work.
Other Top Candidates
- Aroldis Chapman, CIN
- Kenley Jansen, LAD
- Sergio Romo, SF
Phenomenal seasons from Koji Uehara (21-of-24 SV, 1.09 ERA) and Joe Nathan (43-of-46, 1.39 ERA) make this a tough call, but my vote goes to Royals closer Greg Holland.
Uehara was probably the best reliever in all of baseball this season, but the fact that he didn't spend the whole year in the closer's role probably keeps him from winning an award that has always gone to the league's top closer.
Holland, who took over closer duties in August last season after the team traded Jonathan Broxton, again posted one of the best strikeout rates in all of baseball, as he helped anchor a very good Kansas City bullpen and blew just three saves on the season in 50 chances.
Other Top Candidates
- Joe Nathan, TEX
- Glen Perkins, MIN
- Koji Uehara, BOS
Out-of-nowhere seasons from Marlon Byrd and Kevin Gregg give one idea of what Comeback Player of the Year can mean, while a return from injury by Troy Tulowitzki gives the other end of the spectrum.
There is no shortage of candidates here, but my choice is Francisco Liriano, who signed a one-year, $1 million incentive-laden deal in the offseason and emerged as the ace of the Pirates staff.
Always a supremely talented pitcher, Liriano has battled injuries and inconsistency throughout his career, and 2012 was no different, as he 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA between Minnesota and Chicago.
He got things back on track this year, though, and he is a big reason why the Pirates were able to snap their playoff drought.
Other Top Candidates
- RF Marlon Byrd, NYM/PIT
- SP Jorge De La Rosa, COL
- RP Kevin Gregg, CHC
- RP Mark Melancon, PIT
- SS Troy Tulowitzki, COL
- 2B Chase Utley, PHI
- RF Jayson Werth, WSH
You can make an argument for someone like John Lackey or Victor Martinez to take home AL Comeback Player of the Year honors, but honestly, who else but Mariano Rivera should come away with the honor this season?
The greatest closer of all-time could have very easily hung it up after tearing his ACL on May 3 last season, but instead, he worked hard to get back on the field and turned in one last dominant season.
In the process, he was honored league-wide with gifts and tributes during his final trip to a number of different stadiums, and he was able to go out on his own terms.
Other Top Candidates
- RP Neal Cotts, TEX
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
- LF Brett Gardner, NYY
- SP Scott Kazmir, CLE
- SP John Lackey, BOS
- 1B James Loney, TB
- DH Victor Martinez, DET
It looks to be a two-man race for NL Manager of the Year. My vote goes to Clint Hurdle, who finally got the Pirates over the hump, instead of Don Mattingly, who led the Dodgers to a major turnaround and an NL West title.
The Pittsburgh organization very easily could have given up on Hurdle after back-to-back second-half collapses, but they kept him around. And with his positive attitude and player's manager style, he was the perfect guy to lead the Pirates to the postseason for the first time since 1992.
Blessed with one of the most talented bullpens in baseball, Hurdle did a great job of spreading out the innings and keeping any one guy from being too taxed. He shuffled guys at first base, shortstop and right field for much of the year and got the most out of what he had, and the Pirates are now on the verge of reaching the NLCS.
My Full Ballot
1. Clint Hurdle, PIT
2. Don Mattingly, LAD
3. Mike Matheny, STL
The staggering turnarounds in Cleveland and Boston this season make Terry Francona and John Farrell the clear front-runners for AL Manager of the Year honors, as both teams lost over 90 games in 2012 but somehow found themselves in the postseason in 2013.
The Indians have already been eliminated, while the Red Sox are on the verge of advancing to the ALCS. Still, my choice here is Francona.
Entering the offseason, many expected the Indians to sell aggressively and begin rebuilding, but instead, they hired Francona and added a handful of veteran pieces in an effort to make a run at contention.
On the strength of their ability to win close games (30-17 in one-run games; 10-2 in extra innings)—a decent indication of how well the team is led—they claimed a wild-card spot, and Francona looks to have injected new life into the organization.
My Full Ballot
1. Terry Francona, CLE
2. John Farrell, BOS
3. Bob Melvin, OAK
NL Gold Glove Selections
C: Yadier Molina, STL (sixth)
1B: Adrian Gonzalez, LAD (fourth)
2B: Darwin Barney, CHC (second)
3B: Nolan Arenado, COL (first)
SS: Andrelton Simmons, ATL (first)
LF: Starling Marte, PIT (first)
CF: Carlos Gomez, MIL (first)
RF: Gerardo Parra, ARI (second)
P: Zach Greinke, LAD (first)
There are some obvious selections here, led by Andrelton Simmons, who has emerged as the best fielder at any position in all of baseball, and rookie Nolan Arenado, who was dominant at the hot corner. Instead, we'll focus on the close races here.
First base in the NL is a thin position as far as premier defenders go, but there are a few solid candidates. Anthony Rizzo led the way in runs saved (16), and Brandon Belt remains a solid all-around defender. However, Adrian Gonzalez has the best range at the position by a sizable margin, so he gets my vote.
The outfield seems to have a pair of slam dunks on the corners in Starling Marte and Gerardo Parra, but center field could be tight between Carlos Gomez and Mets rookie Juan Lagares. Gomez edges him in most categories and winds up being my pick, but it should be noted that Lagares had statistically the best outfield arm in all of baseball.
Finally, there's the catcher position, where Yadier Molina looks to win his sixth-straight Gold Glove, but Pirates newcomer Russell Martin certainly has his supporters as well. Both guys did a phenomenal job handling young staffs this season, and both are among the best in the league at throwing out runners.
At the end of the day, though, the crown still belongs to Molina, and the fact that only 56 runners attempted to steal on him (compared to 89 for Martin) speaks to how much his presence alone controls the running game.
AL Gold Glove Selections
C: Salvador Perez, KC (first)
1B: Mike Napoli, BOS (first)
2B: Dustin Pedroia, BOS (third)
3B: Manny Machado, BAL (first)
SS: Yunel Escobar, TB (first)
LF: Alex Gordon, KC (third)
CF: Lorenzo Cain, KC (first)
RF: Shane Victorino, BOS (fourth)
P: R.A. Dickey, TOR (first)
Again, we'll focus strictly on the close calls here, as the AL Gold Glove picture is relatively clear aside from a pair of positions that should be hotly contested.
The toughest call came at shortstop, where it's a toss-up between Yunel Escobar and Alcides Escobar, and both players have a strong case. Alcides had slightly better range numbers, but Yunel committed six less errors on the season. The two were more or less identical in UZR, so in the end, I went with Yunel.
The other tough call was center field, where Lorenzo Cain leads the way in runs saved and UZR, but he also played just 761.1 innings. The trio of Colby Rasmus, Jacoby Ellsbury and Leonys Martin can all make a case for the award, but in the end, I went with Cain's superior numbers, despite his limited playing time.
This year's NL rookie class is as deep as any in recent memory, and as much talent as there was top to bottom, Jose Fernandez is the clear choice for Rookie of the Year honors.
The 21-year-old entered spring training having yet to throw a pitch above the High-A level, but late-spring injuries to Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi opened up a spot in the rotation, and the big right-hander broke camp with the team.
He was shut down on Sept. 11, but he did more than enough in his 28 starts to separate himself from fellow first-year starters Julio Teheran, Shelby Miller and Hyun-Jin Ryu as well as Dodgers spark plug Yasiel Puig.
My Full Ballot
1. SP Jose Fernandez, MIA
2. RF Yasiel Puig, LAD
3. SP Julio Teheran, ATL
He didn't make his debut until June 18, but Wil Myers made an immediate impact upon joining the Rays' lineup, and that should be enough for him to edge out teammate Chris Archer for AL Rookie of the Year honors.
After a blistering start to his big-league career, Myers cooled to hit just .209/.317/.314 in the month of August, and it looked like his hold on the award was slipping. He finished strong, though, with a .308/.362/.542 final month, as he was instrumental in helping the Rays secure a playoff spot.
Archer gave the rotation a huge boost when injury struck, and he was phenomenal in July when he went 4-0 with a 0.73 ERA in five starts. But in the end, the offensive impact of Myers in the middle of the Rays' lineup gets the nod from me.
My Full Ballot
1. RF Wil Myers, TB
2. SP Chris Archer, TB
3. SS Jose Iglesias, DET
This one is as easy of a vote as there's been in years, as Clayton Kershaw is not only a slam-dunk option for NL Cy Young Award, but he is also a legitimate NL MVP candidate.
That's how good he was in 2013.
His 1.83 ERA led all of baseball, and it is the first sub-2.00 ERA since Roger Clemens posted a 1.87 mark for the Astros in 2005. That gives the 25-year-old a third-straight ERA title, and his career-best 0.915 WHIP also led the Senior Circuit for a third consecutive year.
Breakout young arms Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey were both great in their own right, and Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright showed that he was all the way back from Tommy John surgery, but it's really no contest here.
My Full Ballot
1. SP Clayton Kershaw, LAD
2. SP Adam Wainwright, STL
3. SP Jose Fernandez, MIA
4. SP Matt Harvey, NYM
5. RP Craig Kimbrel, ATL
Wins are not always indicative of how well a pitcher performed on the season, but MLB wins leader Max Scherzer has the peripheral numbers to back up his terrific 21-3 record.
Aside from the wins, he also led the AL win WHIP (0.970), finished fifth in ERA (2.90), second in strikeouts (240) and second in batting average against (.198), as he emerged as the ace of the Tigers staff with Justin Verlander not pitching like himself.
Yu Darvish (13-9, 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 277 K, .194 BAA) should make it a close vote, as he bests Scherzer in a few categories, but the 29-year-old Detroit right-hander who won his first 13 decisions this season is my pick for AL Cy Young.
My Full Ballot
1. SP Max Scherzer, DET
2. SP Yu Darvish, TEX
3. SP Anibal Sanchez, DET
4. SP Bartolo Colon, OAK
5. SP Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA
The NL MVP race is perhaps the toughest to call among the major awards this season, but my vote goes to Andrew McCutchen, who was once again the heart and soul of the Pirates lineup and was instrumental in helping the team finally get over the hump and reach the postseason.
After fading down the stretch—along with the rest of the team—in 2012, the five-tool outfielder finished third in NL MVP voting, but he closed out the year strong this time around with a 1.001 OPS in the second half.
It helps his case that Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina will likely split votes in St. Louis and that slugger Paul Goldschmidt failed to lead the Diamondbacks to the postseason despite his fantastic numbers. The wild card is Clayton Kershaw, who was head and shoulders better than any other pitcher this season, but in the end, my pick has to be McCutchen.
My Full Ballot
1. CF Andrew McCutchen, PIT
2. SP Clayton Kershaw, LAD
3. 2B Matt Carpenter, STL
4. 1B Paul Goldschmidt, ARI
5. 1B Freddie Freeman, ATL
6. C Yadier Molina, STL
7. 1B Joey Votto, CIN
8. SS Hanley Ramirez, LAD
9. RP Craig Kimbrel, ATL
10. CF Carlos Gomez, MIL
Had it not been for a groin injury that slowed him in September (.729 OPS, 1 HR, 7 RBI), Miguel Cabrera may very well have become the first player to win back-to-back Triple Crowns. Still he turned in a terrific all-around season nonetheless.
His .348 average led the majors, as he claimed his third consecutive batting title, and he finished nine home runs and one RBI behind Orioles slugger Chris Davis for second place in those categories.
The sabermetrics crowd will again point to Mike Trout as the most valuable player in baseball, and he actually improved upon some numbers from his phenomenal rookie season in 2012—most notably on-base percentage as he led the AL win walks. However, it should be Cabrera who walks away with the award once again this season.
My Full Ballot
1. 3B Miguel Cabrera, DET
2. CF Mike Trout, LAA
3. 1B Chris Davis, BAL
4. 3B Josh Donaldson, OAK
5. 3B Adrian Beltre, TEX
6. DH David Ortiz, BOS
7. 2B Robinson Cano, NYY
8. 3B Evan Longoria, TB
9. SP Max Scherzer, DET
10. 2B Dustin Pedroia, BOS