It's been a while since I got behind the keyboard and brought you something new. There was something about Minor League baseball ending, the Mariners making a playoff push, then playoff baseball launching Young Dad Podcast that just threw me off my writing, and I felt that something was missing! However, here we are for some award reactions.
We will look at the 4 Major Awards: Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP, and if the player who won should have or not. It's so weird; I remember doing these two years ago, post the 2020 season, while in the hospital because of the birth of my youngest daughter. How time flies.
Rookie of the Year
For the American League, the finalist were Steven Kwan(OF) Guardians, Adley Rutchsman(C) Orioles, and Julio Rodriguez(OF) Mariners. Some thought that Jeremy Pena(SS) Astros should have been on this list; however, the awards are based on that period's regular season and stats.
As you likely saw by now, the winner was Julio Rodriguez; the award was presented by Mr. Mariner Alvin Davis, which didn't give it away. Julioooooooooooo had a legendary year as he also earned an All-Star nod, Silver Slugger, and capped it off with the RoY award. After posting a 6.2WAR, 147OPS+, 28HR/25SB over 132G and not hitting an HR until May. Julio also earned the BAG! The young soon-to-be face of the MLB earned a 7yr/$119.3MM extension that has options for the 2030-34 seasons with incentives for MVP finishes. The J-Rod show is legit, it's finally here after years of waiting, and it's hard to believe that this guy started the 2021 season with the High-A Everett Aquasox.
Now, with the new CBA, a player like Rutchsman is awarded a full year of service time for his second-place finish since he was called up in May. . Kwan and Rutchsman are also awarded money from the arbitration pool, as they both made the league minimum of $750K.
I am shifting gears over to the NL, where the finalists for the award were Michael Harris II(OF) Braves, Spencer Strider(SP) Braves, and Brendan Donovan(INF) Cardinals.
The winner of the NL RoY was OF Michael Harris II, who burst onto the scene on 5/28/22; Acuna was coming back from his injury. The Braves sat at 22-25. The first 32 games from his debut and play on the field helped the Braves go 24-8. he has posted a .388BABIP and a 135WRC+, a 1.4WAR which was 5th best on the team in that span. In no small part, Harris's bat and stellar defense helped the Braves overcome the Mets for the NL East crown. Harris ended the season with a 5.3WAR, 19HR/20SB, 135OPS+. He also earned a BAG, locked up to an 8yr/$72MM with 2031/32 team options.
I get it; the RoY is usually a position player's first award before it goes to a pitcher. However, the 2020 4th-round pick and teammate Strider were terrific! He went 131IP with a 2.67ERA/1.83FIP, 202K-46BB on the season. Those numbers are elite. Imagine if he had gotten to the 160/180IP clip.
Manager of the Year
Let's keep it going with the NL to lead off the MoY award. The NL Finalists were Dave Roberts(Dodgers), Brian Snitker(Braves), and Buck Showalter(Met). Some of the highlights for each individual were the Dodgers 111 win season, Snitker blasted past the Mets after being down 15+GB early in the season, and the division being given to Showalter's Met, who had a 100-win season in his return to the dugout.
Showalter ended up winning the award for the 4th time in his career. When you have a Billionaire owner who spent to get competitive and spent to bring this man into the dugout, the results couldn't have been much better. You can't argue the call here; what Buck did in one season with a team that hasn't been competitive in a minute, I agree the award was well deserved.
I love that Roberts and the Dodgers, with so many MVPS and a great staff, got 111 wins when they played the Giants, Rockies, and D-Backs so many times during the season; it doesn't seem that great when you think about it. Rob Thompson should have been the true MoY going from bench coach to interim manager and leading the Phillies to the playoffs, ending the 2nd longest active playoff drought in major North American Sports(NFL, NBA, NFL, MLB) after an abysmal start; that's the manager who was the best.
Let's go over the AL where Terry Francona(Guardians), Brandon Hyde(Orioles), and Scott Servias(Mariners) are. Francona and the Guardians were able to capitalize on injuries and poor play by the White Sox, Twins who were projected to own the division. Even I had the Guardians at 3rd place best going into the season for the AL Central. Hyde and the Orioles were just a cinderella story, much like the Marlines of 2020 with Don Mattingly making it to the playoffs. The Orioles look good; they are a young team with lots of heart and confidence. Lastly, my man, Scott Servias, led the Seattle Mariners to end the longest active playoff drought(21 years) in North American Sports HISTORY.
Now, one would naturally think it would be the manager who broke the longest streak in sports and was also a finalist last year after going 90-72 two years in a row. However, Servias finished third in the voting behind Hyde and the winner Francona who finished 92-70 with a division title. Dusty Baker, who led the Astros to a dominating 106 wins, or Aaron Boone, with his 99 wins with the Yankees, weren't finalists over any of these three candidates going off the NL logic.
This year's Cy Young winners were clean sweeps, and both got all 30 first-place votes.
Let's start with the AL since that is where we ended with the MoY award; the AL field was Justin Verlander, who did not pitch in 2021 due to recovering from Tommy John surgery, Dylan Cease(White Sox), and Alek Manoah (Blue Jays). Shohei Ohtani was not a finalist for the award; we will look at him compared to Cease and Manoah in a moment.
The winner, 39yo Justin Verlander, takes home his 3rd career Cy Young award and cements his spot in Cooperstown if it wasn't before. JV made 28 starts, threw 175IP with a 1.75ERA/2.49FIP, and was utterly dominant. He posted a 5.9WAR, 18-4 record, 185K/29BB, and a 0.829WHIP. It was never a question.
Cease posted a 6.4WAR, 14-8 record in 32 starts, and 184IP. He had 2.20ERA/3.10FIP, 227K/78BB(which led the league). Manoah posted a 5.9WAR, 16-7 record in 31 starts, and 196.2IP. He had a 2.24ERA/3.35FIP and 180K/51BB, leading the league again in HBP with 15. What I love about Manoah is their passion for playing the game. Ohtani, lastly, posted a 6.2WAR, 15-9 record in 28 starts and 166IP. He had a 2.33ERA/2.40FIP, 219K/44BB. The case for Ohtani has just as many starts as JV, more wins than Cease, only 9IP less than JV, more K's than JV and Manoah, and less BB allowed than Cease and Manoah.
In the NL, where the finalists were Sandy Alcantara(Marlins), Max Fried(Braves), and Julio Urias (Dodgers). Aaron Nola(Phillies) was not a finalist. However, we can make that case in a moment.
The winner for the AL, by a landslide, was Alcantara. Some of the crazy stats to illustrate the dominance of his season were the 228 2/3IP, 886 batters faced to the 2nd place 807, and six complete games. Alcantara was brilliant, with an 8.0 WAR, 14-9 record in 32 starts, and 228.2IP. He had the 2.28ERA/2.99FIP, 207K/50BB, and he led the league in Complete Games, Shut Outs, Innings Pitched, and Batters faced.
The runner-up, Fried, had a 5.9WAR, 14-7 record in 30 starts, and 185.1IP. He posted a 2.48ERA/2.70FIP, 170K/32BB with no complete GG, 0 shutouts, and only 733 batters faced. However, he got an All-Star nod, and Gold Glove and his team made the playoffs. Silver linings. Urias had a 4.9WAR, 17-7 record in 31 starts( he did play for the 111w Dodgers, keep in mind), and 175IP. He posted a 2.16ERA/3.71FIP, 166K/41BB. He also had 0 shutouts and complete games. He did, however, lead the league in ERA and ERA+. Let's make a case for Aaron Nola of the Phillies, 6.0WAR, 11-13 record in 32 starts, and 205IP.
He posted a 3.25ERA/2.58FIP, 235K/29BB; he did have two complete games and 1 Shutout. He tied the league lead for shutouts while also leading in BB/9 and K-BB ratio. He faced 807 batters and was 2nd to Alacatara in IP and BF. He had a higher WAR than both Fried and Urias. W/L doesn't matter. It's an empty stat. He had the shutouts and CGs. he had more Ks, fewer BBs, more IP, and a lower FIP(which is more reliable than ERA) than both. Let that all sink in.
Lastly, we ended in the NL for the Cy Young; let's pick right back up for the NL MVP. The finalists for the award are Paul Goldschmidt(Cardinals), Manny Machado(Padres), and Nolan Arenado(Cardinals). My first thought here is the Cardinals are in such a good place as an organization. The Cardinals have built a culture where winning is expected, and you come to St. Louis to win and to make the playoffs. Having two MVP finalists shows the level of competition within the team. Some other names who got consideration for the award were Pete Alonso(Mets), who finished 8th, Freddie Freeman(Dodgers), and Mookie Betts(Dodgers) also finished top 5.
The award's winner was the obvious Paul Goldschmidt, who FINALLY won his MVP after several 2nd through 5th place finishes since 2015. The 35Yo, the slugger hit 35HR, and slashed a .317/.404/.578 slash line. He had a 177WRC+ and finished at 7.8WAR. Goldy also secured his 7th All-Star nod and 5th Silver Slugger. The award went to the right player in the NL.
Next is Manny Machado, who had a typical season for him. This guy is good at baseball, and I am not surprised he produced to this level without Tatis Jr on the field. I feel that Tatis limits Manny, and he is a better player without him on the field and around. Entering example one into evidence: a runner-up finishes in the MVP. Machado posted a 6.8WAR, 32HR, 102RBI, 133K-63BB, and slashed .298/.366/.531 with an OPS+ of 159 and OPS of .898.
In Third place, teammate Nolan Arenando won yet another Gold Glove and Platinum Glove. Arenado is likely ending his career as a Cardinal after opt-in to the remainder of his deal. The uber-talented 3B turned in a stellar year, posting a 7.9WAR. The 31yo had 30HR, 103RBI, 72K-52BB, and slashed .293/.358/.533 for an OPS+ of 154 and ops of.891.
Now we're shifting gears over to the AL, where the finalists were Aaron Judge(Yankees/FA), Shohei Ohtani(Angels), and Yordon Alverez(Astros). Aaron Judge was an early favorite during the 2022 campaign as he famously bet on himself and won BIG! Next was two-way Shohei, who didn't disappoint with the bat or on the mound. Lastly was the slugging DH/LF Alvarez, who was admittedly pretty dang good. The other top finishers of nothing are Jose Ramirez, Jose Altuve, Julio Rodriguez, and Mike Trout.
The winner, Aaron Judge, broke the Yankees single season HR record for the AL. Some view him as beating the records set by Sosa, McGwire, and Bonds from 1999-2001. For the ball is now a lot deader, 62 is no small feat. Judge carried the Yankees lineup that struggled, minus him, to a below .700 OPS. Judge played in 157G on the season, putting to rest the injury bug's that limited him from 2018-2022. He led the AL with 133R, 62HR, 131RBI, 111BB, .425OBP, .686Slg, 1.111OPS, 211OPS+, 391TB, was an All-Star, and won a Silver Slugger all while he posted a 10.6WAR.
The runner-up, and in some baseball minds, SP/DH two-way Shohei Ohtani. We talked about what Ohtani did on the mound and how he was better than Cease and Manoah. Ohtani did get two 1st place votes, both from the LA chapter writers. Ohtani didn't hit 46HR like last year, and that regression was coming naturally. Ohtani posted a 3.4WAr with the bat while hitting 34HR, 95RBI, six triples, 161K-72BB and a slash line of .273/.356/.519 for a .875OPS and 145OPS+. The fact that Ohtani pitches and hits with the same guy, the MLB changed the rules for this guy, and he did it again this season at this level and should have been the runner-up for the Cy Young blows my mind.
Lastly, it pains me to talk about Yordon after he single handly beat my Mariners in the Playoffs; however, that's why awards are based on regular season performances. Yordon was great and was the life of the Astros during 2022 offensively, as the team looked different without Correa and with rookie Pena who missed time. Michael Brantley missed significant time as well. Bregman was streaky, Altuve had a good year, and 1B was a mess all season. Kyle Tucker was the best OF by a mile. Without Yordon, the Astros will win 99 games and maybe, just maybe, don't get the #1 seed. The team doesn't beat the Mariners in the playoffs without him. Alvarez posted a 6.8WAR, along with 37HR, 97RBI, 106SO-78BB, and slashed.306/.406/.613 for an 1.109OPS and 187OPS+.
And we are officially back with off-season and baseball content. It's a breath of fresh air. I am so happy to be back behind the keys despite everything else going on in life. Remember to check the linktree for deals on Dano's, The Coldest Water Bottle, and more!