Every Year, the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America get together and vote on the major year end awards in baseball. This was my first go-round with this privilege, and, of course, like anyone, I hate (some) of my ballot. Here’s what I got right and wrong….
What I got Right:
Justin Verlander for AL Cy Young
In an era of specialization for pitchers, overloaded bullpens, and the looming fear of “forearm tightness”, Justin Verlander is truly a standout. This season, he has thrown for 214 innings, a feat he has accomplished every year of his career, except 2006 (his rookie year) and 2015 (injury). The Cy Young doesn’t award past achievements, but that fact is important given his age (he’s 35, the oldest of my selections by 7 years) and the fact that he logged a 12.2 K/9, a career best at that age, when pitchers by-in-large are either injured or in the declining stages of his career. In a season with so many standout pitching performances, his stands tall, because of what it means to both schools of the game.
Brian Snitker for NL Manager of the Year
All due respect to Craig Counsell, and his crew as they gear up for game 162, the fate of the NL Central in the balance, but Brian Snitker and his baby Braves have been drama-free for about a week now. Snit, a manager that was widely thought of as a placeholder during Atlanta’s extensive rebuild, took a club that many believed would be fodder for the lower part of their division, and led them to the top. He dealt with everyone doubting them along the way, dismissing them as “hot at the moment”, pushed through the criticism, and in a moment when his team needed a leader the most, he stormed onto the field and took up for his kid when his opponent had done wrong by him. Ask around the Braves Clubhouse. That’s their Manager, and he’s the best one in the league this year.
Josh Hader for NL Reliever of the Year
It’s always an easy out (no pun intended) to pick the reliever with the most saves, and an ERA under three and just call it right there. In this case, however, Josh Hader was a game changer from the middle relief position. Akin to the old “fireman” moniker that guys like Goose Gossage used to own, Hader was the not-so-secret weapon in the bullpen that Craig Counsell was not afraid to unleash if needed. An absolutely stupid 15.8 K/9 ratio coupled with an eye popping 88% LOB (left on base) mark shows that Hader is worth more than his WAR (2.6) would indicate. I have never managed at any level, however, if I knew I had a kid like this in my pen, I don’t really care who I run out for the first 5 innings, If I’ve got the lead, this guy will keep it for me.
What I Got Wrong:
No AL MVP Vote for Khris Davis
If one had to pick a team to rival the Braves in terms of “surprise” factor, then the Oakland A’s would be an easy choice. As per usual, the A’s remain one of the “cheapest” teams in baseball, (28th to be exact), in one of the crummiest stadiums, and with the most indifferent fanbases to match. Yet here we are, with the lowly A’s staring at their punched Postseason ticket, waiting to see where they will play the Wild Card game. The driving force behind it? The most consistent hitter in baseball, K-ris Davis. Ho-Hum, another year of batting .247 and hitting 40+ home runs for a team no one cares about. The reality is that he might be the scariest at bat a pitcher could have in the postseason, because of his ability to hit the ball to the opposite field with power, he can render a shift useless, and he has the plate discipline to get the pitch he wants too. He should’ve gotten a vote, and he didn’t, because for all that type above, I simply…… forgot about him. Like everyone else….
No AL CY Young vote for Chris Sale
Can someone explain why I put Luis Severino, who has all but imploded over the last month of the season (5.20 ERA over his last 15 starts) over Chris “I literally strike out everyone” Sale? I don’t have an argument for this one, I just goofed.
Jacob DeGrom over Christian Yelich for NL MVP
I wouldn’t say that i’m WRONG on this one, but we’ll call it conflicted. DeGrom is having a historical season, even considering an era when home runs are up, and batted balls in general are down, he has posted a 216 ERA+, which, to give some context, would put him 23rd all time for a single season rating (interestingly enough, just one behind Blake Snell this season), and he did it on a team that simply didn’t score runs for him. Pretty much at all. Ever. On the other hand, Yelich has put the Brewers on his back and carried them into the postseason, and now a team that no one was really sure what to make of them, and they would play 2nd fiddle to the Cubs are playing game 162 with a chance to clinch the NL Central. Along the way, he has put up the best season for an NL hitter, topping the NL in Total Bases, Runs Scored, and batter WAR , and as a player that wasn’t projected to be nearly THIS good, he’s done it all fairly quietly, as he sneaks up on the elusive Triple Crown title, the first one in the National League in over 70 years.
So ya know, I could go either way…