There's nothing better than making predictions for the Major League Baseball awards. It inspires debate and a study of the game that might not otherwise happen and is more passionate than you will find in any other sport.
After the regular season ended, Bleacher Report's five lead MLB writers made their opinions known for who should win in every major category the Baseball Writers' Association of America voted on.
Now, with the results finally coming out, we are going to offer our predictions for who will win. It doesn't happen a lot, but there is a difference between "will win" and "should win."
If you look back at our previous article, for instance, you will notice there is a stark contrast between that AL MVP vote and the one in this piece.
Regardless of which side of the Mike Trout-Miguel Cabrera debate you fall on, or any other category you might disagree with, one thing we know is that old arguments will give way to new ones as soon as the BBWAA results are made public.
Here are the final B/R MLB award predictions, with notes on every category from the members of our crew.
|Award||J. Catania||J. Giglio||J. Martinez||Mike R.||Z. Rymer||A. Wells|
|AL Cy Young||Scherzer||Scherzer||Scherzer||Scherzer||Scherzer||Scherzer|
|NL Cy Young||Kershaw||Kershaw||Kershaw||Kershaw||Kershaw||Kershaw|
Mike Rosenbaum's AL Rookie of the Year Analysis
When Wil Myers was promoted to the major leagues on June 18, the Rays owned a 36-33 record and trailed the Yankees (38-31) by two games for the second AL wild-card spot.
By the end of July, however, the club was 20 games over .500 with a 64-44 overall record and a half-game back of the Red Sox for a share of the AL East lead.
In his first 36 games in the Show, the 22-year-old outfielder guided the Rays to an MLB-best 25-11 record thanks to a .331/.372/.528 batting line with seven home runs and 27 RBI.
Overall, the club posted a 52-36 record this season with the rookie in the lineup.
Though he played in only 88 regular-season games following his call-up, Myers still led all American League rookies in doubles (23), RBI (53), on-base percentage (.354), slugging percentage (.478), wOBA (.357) and wRC+ (131), via FanGraphs.
As if those numbers weren’t already impressive, he also ranked second in batting average (.293), runs scored (50) and home runs (13). And just for good measure, Myers added a 12-game hitting streak and 22-game on-base streak to his Rookie of the Year resume along the way.
Myers’ lone blip on the radar this season was his entire month of August, when he posted a .631 OPS with 29 strikeouts in 24 games. However, the right-handed hitter returned to form in September with a .904 OPS, 17 extra-base hits and 14 RBI in 28 games.
Compared to the Jose Fernandez-Yasiel Puig heavyweight showdown in the National League, the race in the AL seemingly was Myers’ to lose over the final two months of the regular season. Sure, he hit a rough patch in August; however, the overall body of work was impressive and stands out even more in the context of his team’s success.
Mike Rosenbaum's NL Rookie of the Year Analysis
Jose Fernandez turned in one of the best rookie seasons in baseball history this year and arguably the greatest ever by an age-20 hurler. Not bad for a kid who was supposed to spend most of the season at the Double-A level.
Overall, Fernandez finished his rookie campaign with a 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, .182 opponent batting average and stellar 187-58 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 172.2 innings.
Fernandez was a quality-start machine this year, posting 20 of them in 28 starts. More significantly, nine of the right-hander’s quality starts came against teams that ultimately reached the postseason: the Dodgers (2), Cardinals (2), Braves (2), Reds, Pirates and Indians. And according to Baseball-Reference, the right-hander made only five starts that didn’t earn a game score of at least 50.
Despite the rigors of his first full season in the major leagues without the benefit of a game above the High-A level, Fernandez was a model of consistency taking the ball every fifth day. The right-hander’s health was a major reason that he posted such ridiculous numbers; it allowed him to build off each successful outing and make ongoing improvements over the course of the season.
Fernandez earned National League All-Star honors as a result of his dependability and opened eyes (as usual) with a two-strikeout performance in his only inning of work.
Which award will have the closest vote total?
Fernandez ranked among the major league leaders in numerous statistical categories, including first in opponent batting average and hits allowed per nine innings (5.8 H/9), second in ERA and adjusted ERA (176 ERA+), fourth in WHIP and fifth in strikeouts per nine innings (9.75 K/9). And according to Baseball-Reference, Fernandez’s 6.3 WAR was the sixth-highest total of all qualified pitchers.
In terms of his performance among other rookie hurlers, Fernandez, as you can imagine, was the best in the game this year. In fact, his 2.19 ERA was the lowest by a rookie starter in either league since 1970.
Fernandez’s overwhelming success is a result of his ability to make significant adjustments and consistently execute a game plan. The right-hander only got better as the season unfolded too, posting a 7-1 record, 1.32 ERA and 84-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 68 innings (10 starts) after the All-Star break.
Fernandez’s rookie season puts him in elite company with some of baseball’s all-time greats. Considering that he’s been named one of three finalists in the NL Cy Young voting, it’s a safe bet that the right-hander will be crowned the league’s top rookie.
Joe Giglio's AL Manager of the Year Analysis
John Farrell will win the award based on turning a 93-loss team into a 97-win team in the span of one summer. While he deserves credit for molding the Red Sox back into winners during his first year managing in Boston, the front office, led by Ben Cherington, deserves the credit for putting together a powerhouse offense.
Farrell's best work came with a pitching staff that rebounded from a 4.70 ERA in 2012 to post a 3.79 team mark in 2013. Koji Uehara, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz all experienced rebound seasons or major leaps in performance, but don't forget the former pitching coach that guided them there.
Adam Wells' NL Manager of the Year Analysis
Sometimes the narrative is so overwhelming that nothing else matters. In terms of pure strategy and in-game tactics, Clint Hurdle wouldn't be my first choice in a Manager of the Year race, but the story of the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates doesn't get written without the 56-year-old skipper.
The Pirates have been a laughingstock in the sports world for 20 years. They weren't even teasing fans with the hope of a winning season. Losing has been a foregone conclusion since Barry Bonds took his talents to San Francisco in the early 1990s.
It was so great to see the city of Pittsburgh get excited about baseball again. Hurdle probably would have won the award if the Pirates had just finished over .500 and stayed in the playoff race all year, but winning 94 games and making the postseason makes this the easiest call of any award.
Jason Martinez's AL Cy Young Analysis
While Max Scherzer ranked third in the league with 5.59 runs per game scored by his team during his starts, it takes a lot more than just run support for a major league pitcher to win 21 regular-season games, as he did in 2013.
It takes an ability to work deep into games—Scherzer averaged 6.2 innings in his 32 starts and finished at least seven innings in 19 of them. It takes an ability to shut down an opponent—Scherzer had a 2.90 ERA and held his opponent to two earned runs or less 21 times.
And he did it in dominating fashion, posting a 10.1 K/9 and eight double-digit strikeout games.
Jason Catania's NL Cy Young Analysis
Oh, you mean one word isn’t enough of an explanation? Well, it should be, considering that as fantastic as Adam Wainwright and Jose Fernandez, the other two finalists here, were in 2013, Clayton Kershaw was the fantasticalest.
That’s not a word, but when describing Kershaw’s season, it should be. The 25-year-old left-hander led all of baseball with a 1.83 ERA and 0.92 WHIP, topped the NL with 232 strikeouts and finished second overall (to Wainwright) with 236 innings.
The only question is whether voters will make Kershaw’s second Cy in three seasons a unanimous choice this time around. Like I said: Duh.
Zach Rymer's AL MVP Analysis
Officially, the AL MVP race is between the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, the Angels' Mike Trout and the Orioles' Chris Davis. Realistically, however, it’s probably between Cabrera and Trout. Again.
And like last year, Cabrera is bound to take home the hardware. Again.
Never mind that he didn’t win another Triple Crown. Cabrera was absolutely better in 2013 than he was in 2012. He upped his batting average from .330 to .348, his on-base percentage from .393 to .442 and his slugging percentage from .606 to .636. This will have appealed to the voters.
So will the fact that Miggy finished one RBI behind Davis for the American League lead, as well as the fact that he played on a Tigers team that made the playoffs.
For what it’s worth, my vote would have gone to Trout. He didn’t hit 30 homers and steal 49 bases again, but he did up his on-base percentage by over 30 points while hitting 27 homers and stealing 33 bases. He was once again the best player in the American League by a long shot and is hardly to blame for how much his teammates stunk up the joint.
And while his numbers did get better, there’s no denying there’s something missing from Cabrera’s MVP candidacy this year. He got a lot of support in 2012 based on how he led the Tigers into the postseason with a strong September. Injuries prevented him from doing the same this year, as he had only two extra-base hits in his final 25 games.
Not that this will matter, of course. Cabrera’s supporters will have either overlooked his poor finish or chosen to twist it into some sort of display of grit.
It won’t be an outrage if Cabrera doesn’t win the MVP, as Davis is a strong candidate and Trout is an outstanding candidate. But it will certainly be a surprise if he doesn’t.
Zach Rymer's NL MVP Analysis
The announced finalists for the NL MVP are Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis’ Yadier Molina and Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen. One of these guys satisfies the conventional requirements of an MVP better than the others.
One: McCutchen had a fantastic year, hitting .317/.404/.508 with 21 homers and 27 stolen bases while playing strong defense in center field. If you go for WAR, FanGraphs had McCutchen as the National League leader for 2013.
Two: McCutchen played on a winning team. His Pirates won 94 games and earned a wild-card berth, and it’s a bonus for McCutchen that it was their first winning season in 20 years.
Three: McCutchen did the whole “led his team into the playoffs” thing. He upped his OPS from .847 in the first half to 1.001 in the second half. The only National Leaguer who did better than that after the break was Jayson Werth.
Goldschmidt deserves props for the year he had, as a .401 OBP and 36 homers are nothing to scoff at. Molina was also stupendous, hitting over .300 for a third year in a row while putting on his usual defensive clinic behind the dish.
But just like Buster Posey last year, McCutchen’s a guy whose MVP candidacy is good enough to satisfy both the stats lovers and the narrative lovers. The award will go to him.
You can tell how the difference of opinion varies from the BBWAA to what our writers would do. In the previous scenario, wherein we selected the award winners, the AL MVP vote was split between Cabrera and Trout.
This time around, Cabrera is the overwhelming favorite. Trout will have a battle on his hands just to finish second because the Angels had the worst record of the three teams with a finalist for the AL MVP.
That particular scenario happens to be the one outlier, as the rest of the predictions this time around stay the same.
If you are looking for a spot where an "upset" could happen, focus on AL Manager of the Year and NL MVP.
Farrell seems like the obvious choice now because the Red Sox just won the World Series, but it's important to remember this is a regular-season award. Terry Francona took over an Indians team that was as bad as Boston last year, with inferior talent, and won 92 games.
I don't think Farrell loses, but we could see a lot of votes getting split between those two candidates. Bob Melvin will be a distant third place, though his work with the Athletics deserves to be rewarded again.
The NL MVP seems to be McCutchen's by a wide margin, yet I have a suspicion that Yadier Molina is going to generate a lot of support. Everyone respects and admires the way the Cardinals catcher plays the game, not to mention his value behind the plate while managing a pitching staff.
My vote would be for Pittsburgh's superstar, but it's not hard to envision a scenario where Molina pulls off a shocking upset.
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