American League Postseason Award Predictions
2012 AL postseason awards
Now that the 2012 MLB regular season is over we can start looking forward not only to the playoffs but also to who will win the major postseason honours in both leagues. Although there are a great number of awards (nine Gold Gloves in each league, eg, and a number of smaller ones to boot) there are five fairly big ones. The Most Valuable Player and the Cy Young are the ones which probably garner the most attention and prestige, and rightly so, but of great note as well are the Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year.
There is excellent and lively debate about the recipients of these awards almost every year and this one is no exception, especially in the American League. Both the MVP and Cy Young awards look very much up for grabs with Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout at the centre of a heated battle which will no-doubt rage up to and well beyond the date when the actual awards are given out. The usual contenders of Jared Weaver and Justin Verlander are vying for the Cy Young, but the race is much more open than just that with Chris Sale and David Price also in the mix. Meantime both Buck Showalter and Bob Melvin will be eyeing up the Manager of the Year trophy after leading their teams to improbable postseason berths.
There will be many pieces written in the coming months about who should and who did win the five big awards and for the American League my picks are as follows:
Cy Young - David Price
For me the choice is a fairly clear one: David Price. It's important to remember that unlike the MVP which measures value (a relative measure for each team), the Cy Young is just awarded on performance and thus the team result is irrelevant. Which is good for Price as the Tampa Bay Rays could not get over the line in their last series against the Baltimore Orioles.
Price's numbers are clear: he was one of only two in the American League to win twenty games this year and had the best ERA in the league. He was also at or near the top of the list in most other categories both traditional and more modern and overall he has a clear edge on Justin Verlander.
MVP - Miguel Cabrera
This is the big one this year. Should the award go to Miguel Cabrera for his Triple Crown heroics or to Mike Trout for his superior numbers in the Sabremetrics categories? It ought to be Cabrera though not only for the Triple Crown. Even if one wants to make the reasonable argument that Trout had the better all-round season, the award measures value. And Cabrera was more valuable for the Detroit Tigers than Trout was for the Los Angeles Angels. If Trout doesn't play for the Angels and they win eleven fewer games (as WAR suggests) then there is no overall difference to their season. But if Cabrera doesn't play for the Tigers and they win seven fewer games their season is over and the Chicago White Sox are AL Central Champions instead.
And then there is the Triple Crown. Despite what a lot may say, this is not something at which to be sniffed. It's not easy to get a hit in MLB and Cabrera was the single best in the AL. It is not easy to hit a home run in the majors and Cabera was the single best in the AL. And the notion that RBIs are a 'team' statistic is absolute rubbish. One cannot just plop anyone in at number three and have them drive in runners, some hitters are much better at it than others. And Cabrera was the single best in the AL. It is a staggering feat and there is a reason it has not happened since 1967 and there is a reason why the last person to accomplish it is as famous as Carl Yastrzemski is.
Rookie of the Year - Mike Trout
This one Mike Trout does get. The fact that he did not have as good a season as the man who won the first Triple Crown since 1967 should not detract from the fact that it was still an excellent season and there is no other rookie that even comes close to matching him. This is an easy pick and there is a decent chance that he will win the award unanimously.
Comeback Player of the Year - Adam Dunn
Adam Dunn had a famously terrible season last year. After coming to the Chicago White Sox in a high profile free agent deal he hit a miserable .159 with only 11 home runs and 177 strikeouts in 122 games. He was so poor that one satire site facetiously named him their pick for the AL Cy Young award as he 'did more for American League pitching than anyone who actually took the mound'. He was back to his best this year, however, with 41 home runs and 96 RBis in 151 games. He also lead the league in the odd combination of both strikeouts and walks. Other player had better years, but none of them had so far to come back after last year and that is why Dunn gets the award.
Manager of the Year - Bob Melvin
Noted astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson said last year that the Manager of the Year award should not be voted on, but simply awarded to the manager who got the most wins per dollar of team payroll. This is an eminently sensible suggestion as it is a clear indicator of who best maximised their resources and that is the job of a manager. By that criterion the Manager of the Year in the AL is Bob Melvin. The Oakland Athletics had the lowest payroll in the American League this year at $55, 372,500 and Melvin translated that into 94 wins and a historic comeback to win the AL West. Buck Showalter has done a very good job with the Baltimore Orioles, but not quite that good.