MLB Awards: Predicting The Winner of Every Major Award In 2013
MLB Awards Season Is Upon Us
With the MLB regular season scheduled to end on September 29, the race for the playoffs is beginning to round in to shape, with only the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays looking like they may lose their playoff spots. There’s a type of certainty towards the end of the season which is somewhat expected during a prolonged 162-game schedule that weeds out the pretenders and ultimately results in the most well-rounded teams normally finding their way to postseason play. As a result of this certainty, the last week of the regular season can often be the most boring week of the season, as a number of players that plied their trades in the Minor Leagues all season receive significant at-bats for playoff bound teams with managers having the goal of keeping the big guns healthy for the playoffs.
Similarly to how the race for playoff spots is almost set in stone, many voters have surely already made their decisions on who they will get their votes for various MLB Awards at the end of the season. But unlike the race for playoff spots, this certainty does not necessarily mean that awards will be going to who the public deem the most deserving candidate. In recent years, we have seen a number of awards go to somewhat shocking candidates.
With this uncertainty, we have put on our voting caps and compiled a list of who you can expect to be the winners of the Comeback Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young and MVP awards for both the National and American League's.
NL Comeback Player of the Year-Francisco Liriano
During the 2012 season, Francisco Liriano was absolutely awful for both the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox, posting a 6-12 record with a 5.34 ERA for the entirety of the season. This poor season led some baseball circles to wonder if Liriano's career was coming to and end. However, his 2013 season proved that assessment very wrong. During 2013, Liriano has been the Pittsburgh Pirates’ best pitcher, as he has posted a remarkable 16-7 record with a 2.92 ERA. This impressive line for a Pirates team that will at least get to participate in the play in game gives Liriano the edge for the NL Comeback Player of the Year award over Carl Crawford, Troy Tulowitzki, Jayson Werth and Marlon Byrd.
AL Comeback Player of the Year-Mariano Rivera
During the 2012 season, Mariano Rivera was only able to pitch in nine games before tearing the ACL in his right knee. It brought up the question of whether the greatest closer in baseball history would ever pitch again. Rivera was able to come back to his job as the New York Yankees closer as good as new, posting 44 saves and a 2.25 ERA in 61 games during the 2013 season. This return from injury to once again be amongst the best closers in baseball at the age of 43 was amazing, and should cement Rivera the AL Comeback Player of the Year award over John Lackey, James Loney, Brett Gardner and Scott Kazmir.
NL Rookie of the Year-Yasiel Puig
Many people will rag against Yasiel Puig because of the fact that he did not play the entire 2013 season, while starting pitchers Jose Fernandez, Shelby Miller, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Julio Teheran did. That is a fair enough argument, but one cannot argue against the production of Puig in 2013. His statline reads .333/.403/.548 with 17 home runs and 11 stolen bases. When it is included that he is a game changer defensively, it is made clear that Puig has been one of the best players in baseball regardless of age or experience. This combined production and ability during the 2013 season should help Puig earn the NL Rookie of the Year Award.
AL Rookie of the Year-Jose Iglesias
The race for the AL Rookie of the Year Award will come down to the Detroit Tigers’ Jose Iglesias and the Tampa Bay Rays’ Wil Myers. Both are very evenly matched on the offensive side of the ball, with Myers getting a slight edge based on his ability to hit for power. Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, Iglesias has been far better than Myers, and in fact he has been one of the best players defensively in all of baseball. This large edge on defense should result in Iglesias receiving the Rookie of the Year Award over Myers, but only by a slight edge.
NL Manager of the Year-Fredi Gonzalez
On the surface, it would appear that Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has had a relatively easy 2013 season, as his team has a nine-game cushion over the Washington Nationals. But then again, looks are often deceiving. When one considers that Gonzalez has had to deal with key players Tim Hudson, Jason Heyward, BJ Upton, Brandon Beach and Tim Hudson all missing time through injury, it is remarkable the Braves have been this successful. Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates may be the more feel good story to go with when voting commences for the NL Manager of the Year award, but nobody has done a better job this season than Gonzalez and he deserves to be rewarded for that.
AL Manager of the Year-Joe Girardi
After dealing with having to send 27 players to the disabled list during the 2013 season and using 55 players in total, there is no doubt that Joe Girardi has done an impeccable job with the New York Yankees this season. When it is recognized that Girardi has had to deal with the circus surrounding Alex Rodriguez for the entirety of the season, and the ever relenting pressure that comes with being the Yankees manager, it is even more astounding that the team is only 2 1/2 games out of the second AL Wild Card Spot. Maintaining this juggling act and keeping the team in contention for the playoffs should undoubtedly result in Girardi being awarded the AL Manager of the Year Award.
NL Cy Young-Clayton Kershaw
The 2013 NL Cy Young Award belongs to Clayton Kershaw by a long shot. Kershaw is either tied for or in sole possession of first place in the categories of strikeouts, WAR, WHIP and ERA for National League pitchers, and has been just as dominant as those statistics would indicate. The only thing that could hold him back is a 14-9 win/loss record, but this statistic has much more to do with his run support than production. In the end, handing the Cy Young Award to anyone other than Kershaw this season would be a travesty.
AL Cy Young-Yu Darvish
While many people will be swayed by the fact that Max Scherzer has a MLB leading 19 wins during the 2013 season, the facts show that Yu Darvish has been much more dominant. Darvish has gone 12-9 with a 2.79 ERA and a MLB leading 256 strikeouts, in the process showing that he is the best pitcher in the American League. As long as voters are not swayed by the faulty statistic that is won/loss record then the Cy Young Award should be Darvish's.
NL MVP-Andrew McCutchen
The race for the NL MVP is truly up for grabs with Yadier Molina, Clayton Kershaw, and Andrew McCutchen all providing a convincing argument as to why they should be the winner. As noted before, Kershaw is having by far the best season of any pitcher in baseball, but he will likely be hurt by the fact that starting pitchers only take the field once every five days. Meanwhile, an argument can be made against Molina because of the fact that he went on the disabled list near the end of July, in the process robbing him of having an influence on the St. Louis Cardinals during one of the seasons most important stretches. Both of these players’ noticeable flaws should sway the MVP award in McCutchen's favor, as he has put up a statline of .325/.408/.520 with 20 home runs and 27 stolen bases while playing in 149 of 153 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
AL MVP-Miguel Cabrera
The race for the AL MVP Award will likely once again raise a debate as to how much defensive contributions impact a players value. After all 2012 MVP, and likely winner during the 2013 season, Miguel Cabrera is a defensive liability for the Detroit Tigers but mashes the ball like no other. During the 2013 season Cabrera has put up an offensive statline of .347/.443/.653 with 44 home runs and 134 RBI, undoubtedly the best season amongst any player in baseball and continuing a Barry Bonds’ level of production. While many individuals will want Mike Trout or Robinson Cano to be awarded based on their combination of production at the plate and in the field, it is much more likely that Cabrera's incredibly numbers will sway the minds of voters to give him a second consecutive MVP award.