Odds of Each Finalist Bringing Home Major 2013 MLB Awards
Let the debates begin.
The Baseball Writers Association of America has officially announced the finalists for the four major awards in both the American and National Leagues that will be handed out over the week of November 11.
This is still a new process for MLB, with the BBWAA naming finalists for the first time last year before handing out the hardware.
Most of the finalists in these categories were expected, so it is hard to get angry about anyone being omitted. Before we get to the winners being selected, we wanted to hand out odds for the finalists in each category.
The odds are strictly our own opinion, based on where we see the wind blowing as of November 5. Keep in mind that voting only reflects what happened in the regular season, so don't worry about what a player did in the postseason.
American League Manager of the Year
AL Manager of the Year Finalists
John Farrell, Boston Red Sox
If we could include the postseason, Farrell would be the runaway winner in this category. The Red Sox were a joke just one year ago, falling apart at the seams with in-house fighting and uncertainty about what the future held.
Farrell came back to Boston after two years managing in Toronto, guided the Red Sox to the best record in the AL (97-65) and first division title since 2007. Even without the postseason run, he's still the favorite even if the gap is closer than it otherwise would have been.
Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians
After taking a year off following an ugly divorce from Boston, Terry Francona wasted no time proving why he is one of the best and most respected managers in the game. He took over a Cleveland team coming off four consecutive losing seasons and had no expectations to win going into 2013.
The front office dove into the free-agent pool during the offseason, signing Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, but the biggest move came when Francona was hired. He established a new tone in Cleveland and got the franchise into the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics
I'm happy to see Mevlin made it in this group because he's very good at his job. However, I'm fairly confident in saying that he has no chance of winning. It's not his fault, but the success of the A's last year is going to hurt him.
Manager of the Year is based on expectations for a team entering the year. The Athletics won a division title last year and Melvin won the award for his efforts. That will have to be enough.
National League Manager of the Year
NL Manager of the Year Finalists
Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates
It wouldn't matter if there was a log sitting in the dugout credited with putting together the lineups for the Pirates during the 2013 season, if you end a 21-year streak of futility in spectacular fashion with 94 wins and a playoff appearance, you're going to win Manager of the Year.
Clint Hurdle did more than a log, I am happy to report. It also didn't hurt that the team he had to work with was good, led by a certain MVP candidate we will talk about shortly. He will get the award, and considering the rest of the field, is probably the best candidate.
Don Mattingly, Los Angeles Dodgers
There are two versions of the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers. One of them nearly had Don Mattingly getting fired because the team got off to such a bad start. The other has him as a finalist for NL Manager of the Year thanks to a second-half surge that got the team in the playoffs.
Even though the latter story would provide a nice narrative for Mattingly to win, he has no shot against Hurdle this year. He can settle for working on a one-year deal in 2014, hoping to earn a contract extension.
Fredi Gonzalez, Atlanta Braves
If you need proof this award is strictly based on team performance instead of what a manager actually does, just look at Fredi Gonzalez's inclusion on this list.
He's never been a good tactical manager, using bunts and bullpen strategy as bad as anyone in baseball. The voters might bump him over Mattingly because the Braves finished with the second-most wins in the NL.
American League Rookie of the Year
AL Rookie of the Year Finalists
Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
Despite playing in just 88 games, Wil Myers led or tied for the AL rookie lead in Fangraphs' wins above replacement (2.4), on-base percentage (.354), slugging percentage (.478), extra-base hits (36), weighted on-base average (.357) and weighted runs created plus (131).
In a deeper year for AL rookies, Myers might have some competition because he played a little more than half of the season. Instead, the only question will be if voters punish him for the Rays holding him back.
Jose Iglesias, SS, Detroit Tigers
Unlike Myers, who seemed to get stronger as the year went on, Iglesias parlayed an unsustainable first-half performance (.367/.417/.461) into a fluky rookie campaign (.303/.349/.386).
Unfortunately, the second half of 2013 is probably more in line with what Iglesias will become in the future (.235/.274/.306). Even with the glove, which is his best asset, Iglesias rated as above-average but nothing special.
There will be some voters who give Iglesias the benefit of the doubt because he played 21 more games than Myers, but it won't be enough to give him the award.
Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays may not be drafting their rookies anymore, but they can sure develop them. We already talked about Myers' performance. Now it is time to talk about what Chris Archer did.
Stepping into a rotation that lost James Shields to a trade and got a poor performance from former Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson, Archer established himself as a potential top-of-the-rotation starter with a 3.22 ERA and 101-38 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 128.2 innings.
Impressive as Archer's debut season was, I think voters are going to go with Myers if they go for a Rays rookie.
National League Rookie of the Year
NL Rookie of the Year Finalists
Jose Fernandez, SP, Miami Marlins
If you want to make an argument for either of the top two NL Rookie of the Year candidates, I wouldn't necessarily disagree you. Jose Fernandez gets the edge in my book for two reasons.
First, it's not every day you see a rookie finish second in strikeouts per nine innings (9.75), second in ERA (2.19), fourth in fielding independent ERA (2.73) and sixth in expected fielding independent ERA (3.08).
Second, according to Jonah Keri of Grantland, the only other player with a lower ERA during his age-20 season in the last century was Dwight Gooden in 1985. That was the same year "Doc" won the Cy Young and finished fourth in MVP voting.
It's a close race, but when you are making history at such a young age, you get a bump for style points.
Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Puig is an interesting case study because there are so many narratives voters can use for and against him. The Dodgers called him up on June 3 when they were 24-32. They went 68-38 the rest of the way, some of which voters will attribute to Puig's energy.
(For the record, having Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hanley Ramirez didn't hurt matters.)
On the flip side, stories of Puig's immaturity and hostility towards the media are going to cause a lot of backlash that will cost him votes.
As far as what he did on the field, Puig was tremendous. He led all position-player rookies in either league with 4.0 Fangraphs' wins above replacement, on-base percentage (.391) and slugging percentage (.534).
There were missteps along the way, like trying to steal a base where the opportunity wasn't there or overthrowing a cutoff man trying to make a spectacular play at third base instead of holding a runner at first base.
It's all part of the development process, and Puig will get better.
Shelby Miller, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
At least the BBWAA still knows Shelby Miller is around, even if the St. Louis Cardinals still aren't sure of his whereabouts.
Miller would have been right in the mix with Fernandez and Puig for the award if the season ended at the All-Star break. The 23-year-old right-hander had a 2.92 ERA and a 112-29 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 104.2 innings pitched in the first half.
Unfortunately Miller slowed down in the second half, with a 3.28 ERA and 57-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 68.2 innings. He's going to be a great pitcher for a long time, but in a deep rookie class, he's clearly the No. 3 choice.
American League Cy Young Award
AL Cy Young Award Finalists
Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers
This award has been Scherzer's since July, when he started 13-0. Yes, there should be more to a pitcher's performance than win-loss record, but the narrative of 21-3 will make this a landslide for the Detroit starter.
That's not to say Scherzer doesn't have a great Cy Young case. He had 240 strikeouts against 152 hits allowed in 214.1 innings. His 2.90 ERA and 2.74 fielding independent ERA both ranked in the top five for AL pitchers.
Even though Scherzer would not be my top choice because a lot of his competition was easier than other candidates, I won't say he's a bad winner when it's announced on November 13.
Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
I honestly don't know which order to put the No. 2 and 3 candidates for the AL Cy Young award because they wouldn't have made my personal top three.
Darvish is unquestionably one of the best pitchers in baseball, leading all of baseball with 277 strikeouts and just 145 hits allowed in 209.2 innings. His control can be erratic at times, leading to 80 walks and 26 home runs allowed.
Still, the advanced metrics love Darvish because he misses bats and should end up as the No. 2 choice in this particular grouping.
Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners
Hisashi Iwakuma wouldn't even be my first choice among Seattle pitchers, though he did have a terrific season. He is just not in the same category as Scherzer or Darvish.
A strong control pitcher, Iwakuma walked just 1.7 hitters per nine innings. He had an impressive 4.40 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The numbers are strong and certainly put him among the top 15-20 starters in baseball this year, but not enough to make a dent in Cy Young voting.
National League Cy Young Award
NL Cy Young Award Finalists
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
How does one begin to describe Clayton Kershaw? I don't think a word has been invented that fully captures his greatness, though Will Ferrell certainly came close with "scrumtrulescent."
Kershaw's the best pitcher in baseball, without a doubt. He's led the league in ERA and WHIP three consecutive years, set a new career high in 2013 with a 194 ERA+ and his 1.83 ERA this year was the lowest for a starting pitcher since Roger Clemens in 2005.
The question isn't whether Kershaw wins his second Cy Young award, but will it be a unanimous vote?
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
The gap between Kershaw and Wainwright based on advanced metrics is closer than you might think. Kershaw holds a slim lead in fielding independent ERA (2.39 to 2.55), but Wainwright is ahead in expected fielding independent ERA (2.80 to 2.88).
Wainwright also led the league with 241.2 innings pitched and five complete games. So why isn't this a closer race? The Cardinals ace allowed 223 hits, most in the NL, and did have the benefit of pitching against below-average offensive teams like Pittsburgh, Chicago and Milwaukee.
Even though the NL West isn't an offensive paradise, Kershaw's dominance was better than Wainwright's against the likes of San Francisco and San Diego. Wainwright will probably get one or two first-place votes from St. Louis writers, but it won't be enough to threaten Kershaw.
Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins
It wouldn't be a shock to see Jose Fernandez finish second in NL Cy Young voting. His rookie season was off-the-charts incredible and paints a great picture for the future.
If the Marlins hadn't shut the 21-year-old down in early September, limiting him to just 172.2 innings, his chances to win the award would be greater. Unfortunately, that low innings total puts him nearly 64 innings behind Kershaw and almost 70 innings behind Wainwright.
With such a huge discrepancy in that category, Fernandez would have to be head-and-shoulders better than anyone else in the league to warrant first- or second-place votes. He'll have to settle for being the No. 3 pitcher in the NL. At least he's keeping good company.
American League Most Valuable Player
AL MVP Finalists
Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers
The narrative of Cabrera chasing a second-consecutive Triple Crown and being awarded the title of "best hitter on the planet" is going to give him another MVP award. We can debate whether it is warranted or not for hours, but I think we are all tired of that.
The Tigers made the playoffs. Cabrera is the best player on the team. It fits all the criteria the BBWAA looks for in the MVP, even though it tells us nothing about the actual value a player added.
Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
If Mike Trout played on a better team, he would be going after his second consecutive AL MVP award. Instead, the phenom will get punished because the Angels front office is bad at its job.
In fact, despite being the best player in the sport and having a better season in 2013 than he did as a rookie, Trout will be lucky to finish second in the MVP voting because of Los Angeles' ineptitude.
Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles
The race for second place in AL MVP voting is going to be more interesting than who wins because we know Cabrera is the overwhelming favorite.
Davis was the breakout star of 2013, leading the AL in home runs (53), RBI (138) and total bases (370). He did come back to earth in the second half (.245/.339/.515), which is more in line with his career line.
Considering the Orioles finished with more wins than the Angels, as well as Davis' huge homer total in an era where power numbers are down, it wouldn't surprise me to see him finish second over Trout. It's not right, but what can you do?
National League Most Valuable Player
NL MVP Finalists
Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Sometimes you are just happy to see a great player who had a fantastic season get the long-overdue recognition they deserve. That's going to be my reaction when Andrew McCutchen wins the NL MVP award.
Pittsburgh's 27-year-old center fielder was the best player in the NL this season. His ascent to superstardom has been incredible to watch, and having McCutchen leading the Pirates to the playoffs was great for the city and the game of baseball.
When it comes to awards, you hope the narrative and performance come together so the right person wins. McCutchen could have been NL MVP last year, but it was a close race and no one could argue against Buster Posey.
This year, there is no doubt the NL MVP award belongs to McCutchen.
Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals
It seems like Yadier Molina is going to be one of those players who climbs the MVP mountain without ever getting to the top. He finished fourth in the voting last year and will be the runner-up in 2013.
Molina's evolution as a hitter has been remarkable to watch. He went from an all-defense, no-bat player to the best all-around catcher in the sport. Given how respected he is around the game, a few first-place votes will come his way.
It just won't be enough to overtake Andrew McCutchen.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Speaking of players evolving, Paul Goldschmidt went from a platoon player when he first came up to a finalist for the NL MVP award. It's a great job of development from the Diamondbacks and testament to the work by Goldschmidt.
Goldschmidt led the NL with 36 home runs, 125 RBI, .551 slugging percentage, 160 OPS+, 332 total bases. The Diamondbacks rewarded him with a contract extension before the season. He returned the favor with an MVP-caliber season.
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