Biggest Snubs from 2013 MLB End-Year Award Finalists
It wouldn't be award season without controversy. After MLB Network unveiled the finalists for baseball's four prestigious individual honors, the names left off the list are even more compelling.
Next week, the winners of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Awards, Managers of the Year, Most Valuable Players and Cy Young Awards will be announced. Starting on Monday, Nov. 10, the opportunity to banter about which players ultimately took home the honors, respectively, can be debated all winter long.
For now, though, we take a glance at the players left off the list of finalists, as voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
When the final tally is released, it's quite possible that all of our biggest snubs will have received at least a vote or two from the BBWAA, but the inability to garner enough votes to be a finalist is egregious for each of the following 2013 stars.
*All statisticians courtesy of Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.
AL Manager of the Year: Joe Girardi, Yankees
AL Manager of the Year finalists: John Farrell (Red Sox), Terry Francona (Indians) and Bob Melvin (A's)
Not only is Girardi a snub on the list of finalists, he should have won the award outright. Despite managing a team that was outscored by 21 runs over the course of the regular season, Girardi led New York to 85 wins and within striking distance of a postseason spot until the final weeks of the year.
From the early days of spring training, injuries decimated the Yankees' projected roster. Curtis Granderson was limited to 61 games after multiple hand and wrist injuries. Derek Jeter's ankle never healed properly, costing the Yankees captain 145 games. Mark Teixeira, after injuring his wrist while taking batting practice for Team USA in the WBC, was limited to just 15 games.
A quick look at the Yankees roster is all the evidence Girardi needs. In reality, the 2013 Yankees were a bad baseball team that somehow navigated through the AL East and made New York believe postseason baseball was a reality.
NL Manager of the Year: Mike Redmond, Marlins
NL Manager of the Year finalists: Fredi Gonzalez (Braves), Clint Hurdle (Pirates) and Don Mattingly (Dodgers)
Yes, the manager of the worst team in the National League deserves a spot among the Manager of the Year finalists. Despite losing 100 games and guiding a team that was out of contention before pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, Redmond did a commendable job during his first season in the Miami dugout.
Prior to the season, some pundits believed Miami could set the record for futility, win less than 50 games and embarrass themselves in the difficult National League East.
Outside of the emergence of Jose Fernandez as a legitimate Rookie of the Year and Cy Young candidate, Miami didn't have a single dominant player throughout the season. Even Giancarlo Stanton, Miami's best everyday player, was limited to 116 games due to injury.
When the dust settled, Miami finished within four games of the Cubs in their chase to stay out of the National League basement. Credit should go to Redmond for keeping them focused and afloat despite the lack of talent.
AL Rookie of the Year: Dan Straily, Athletics
AL Rookie of the Year finalists: Chris Archer (Rays), Jose Iglesias (Tigers) and Wil Myers (Rays)
During the early part of the 2013 season, it felt as if the American League wasn't going to feature enough decent ROY candidates to fill a ballot. By September, enough outstanding rookie depth had emerged to leave Straily off the ballot.
With all due respect to Archer's dominant stuff, Iglesias' dazzling defense and Myers' raw power and athleticism, Straily deserved a spot among the finalists.
Over 27 starts, the 24-year-old right-hander help stabilize a rotation that led Oakland to a second consecutive American League West championship. Over 27 starts, Straily posted a 3.96 ERA and fanned 124 batters.
For an Oakland team that doesn't have the payroll flexibility to add veteran starters through trade, Straily's emergence allowed them to overcome the liability of only having one 200-inning starter, A.J. Griffin, in their rotation.
NL Rookie of the Year: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers
NL Rookie of the Year finalists: Jose Fernandez (Marlins), Shelby Miller (Cardinals) and Yasiel Puig (Dodgers)
To be fair to the BBWAA, the National League Rookie of the Year class was as dominant as any year in recent memory. Early next week, expect the Fernandez versus Puig debate to be rehashed among baseball fans from Los Angeles to Miami.
The class was so deep that Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles' less heralded international sensation, was snubbed from a spot on the list of finalists. In 192 innings, Ryu helped stabilize the Dodgers rotation behind Clayton Kershaw by posting an ERA+ of 119 and striking out 154 batters.
NL Rookie of the Year: Gerrit Cole, Pirates
NL Rookie of the Year finalists: Jose Fernandez, Shelby Miller (Cardinals) and Yasiel Puig (Dodgers)
Much like Ryu, Cole's rookie season deserved consideration in the top three. The former first-overall pick exceeded expectations when arriving in Pittsburgh this summer.
Over 19 starts for the 94-win Pirates, Cole pitched to a 3.22 ERA, struck out 100 batters and posted a K/BB ratio of 3.57. When Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle chose Cole to pitch the deciding game of the NLDS, the likely National League Manager of the Year let the world know what he thought of the 22-year-old flame-thrower.
If he's good enough for Game 5 of the NLDS in St. Louis, he's good enough to be a finalist.
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, White Sox
AL Cy Young Award finalists: Yu Darvish (Rangers), Hisashi Iwakuma (Mariners) and Max Scherzer (Tigers)
According to Baseball-Reference's WAR for pitchers, Chris Sale's 2013 was worth more than every American League pitcher other than Hisashi Iwakuma. The difference in total WAR between Iwakuma (7.0) and Sale (6.9) was almost too small to make a true line of demarcation between their candidacies for AL Cy Young.
Of course, there's a major line of demarcation between their respective places on the final AL Cy Young ballot. Iwakuma, along with Yu Darvish and Max Scherzer, is among the finalists, while Sale is on the outside looking in.
Honestly, a compelling case (226 K, 4 CG, 140 ERA+) can be made that Sale deserves to win the award outright. In that case, he's similar to Joe Girardi in the AL Manager of the Year vote. The thought of Sale not even garnering enough votes to make the list of finalists is one of the bigger mistakes the BBWAA has made in years.
NL Cy Young: Cliff Lee, Phillies
NL Cy Young Award finalists: Jose Fernandez (Marlins), Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) and Adam Wainwright (Cardinals)
Over the last two seasons, Philadelphia lefty Cliff Lee has dominated opposing batters without a hint of appreciation from the BBWAA. Over 433.2 innings pitched, Lee has an ERA+ of 130 and posted a SO/BB ratio of 7.15. His mediocre 20-17 win-loss record during the span has coincided with the Phillies' fall from National League power to second-division club.
Of course, team success should have little to do with the perception around Lee. He's one of the game's most prolific pitchers, control artists and dominant southpaws but will now have back-to-back seasons on his ledger without a sniff of Cy Young consideration.
When it comes time to consider Lee's accomplishments for Cooperstown, 2013's numbers of 222 strikeouts, 31 starts and a 133 ERA+ should be a boon to his candidacy, not a forgotten season.
AL MVP: Robinson Cano, Yankees
AL MVP finalists: Miguel Cabrera (Tigers), Chris Davis (Orioles) and Mike Trout (Angels)
Despite dominating American League competition (137 OPS+) since 2009, Robinson Cano's best years in New York will only net him one top-three finish (2010) in the AL MVP vote.
Due to a combination of personality and perception, Cano's contributions to New York's lineup go largely ignored by the BBWAA.
On the field, Cano comes off as a glider, rarely putting forth 110 percent effort on his way to dominant regular-season numbers. Off the field, the Yankees' payroll and roster rarely leads voters to choose one player as an MVP because of the yearly influx of talent that surrounds each player on the roster.
Yes, Cano's case is hurt by the way he's perceived and because players like Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira play alongside him in New York's infield.
Unfortunately for the fairness of the AL MVP vote, Cano posted a WAR of 8.7, good for better than all but four players in the sport in 2013.
AL MVP: Josh Donaldson, Athletics
AL MVP finalists: Miguel Cabrera (Tigers), Chris Davis (Orioles) and Mike Trout (Angels)
As noted when discussing Robinson Cano's candidacy for the AL MVP award, his 8.7 WAR ranked fourth in Major League Baseball, behind only Los Angeles' Mike Trout (10.4), Milwaukee's Carlos Gomez (9.4), Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen (9.4) and Oakland's Josh Donaldson (9.0).
When assessing Donaldson's case among AL MVP finalists, it's hard to imagine his name not near the top of the list.
Statistically (148 OPS+), Oakland's third baseman shined, rising above one of the best and deepest groups at his position in years. Despite the American League featuring perennial stars like Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre and Miguel Cabrera, Donaldson's contributions on offense and defense made him the most valuable third baseman in the league.
Even if voters chose to use the "old school" mentality (wins over stats) when filling out their respective ballots, Donaldson's presence on a 96-win team should have netted a spot among the finalists.
NL MVP: Joey Votto, Reds
NL MVP finalists: Paul Goldschmidt (D-backs), Andrew McCutchen (Pirates) and Yadier Molina (Cardinals)
The war between on-base percentage and RBI rages on. Historically, MVP voters don't love on-base percentage as much as they love runs batted in. When it comes to Joey Votto, the perception has become a reality.
Make no mistake about it, Joey Votto, the 2010 NL MVP, isn't among this year's finalists because of a perception that has overshadowed his hitting genius. Votto, much like great hitters named Bonds and Williams, does not swing at bad pitches and isn't afraid to take a walk to help the offense score runs.
In 2010, when Votto won the award, he walked 91 times and drove in 113. In 2011, Votto finished sixth in the voting after walking 110 times and driving in 103. In 2012, Votto finished 14th on the NL MVP ballot after walking 94 times and driving in 56. To be fair, most of his slip in the 2012 voting was due to a knee injury that cost him 51 games down the stretch of the season.
This past season, the star first baseman is not an NL MVP finalist despite leading his team's offense to 698 runs. Votto's 135 walks led the NL, but his RBI total of 73 was pedestrian.
Goldschmidt, McCutchen and Molina are all fine choices for NL MVP contention, but outside of McCutchen, no player in the NL deserved a spot on every ballot more than Cincinnati's Joey Votto.
Agree? Disagree? Who was the biggest snub by the BBWAA?
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