Do I have an actual vote this year? Of course not. But here are some educated guesses for this year’s major awards.
National League MVP:
The pick: Andrew McCutchen, Center Fielder, Pittsburgh Pirates
Stats: 146 games, 25 HR, 83 RBI, .314/.410/.542, 168 OPS+, 18 SB, 84 BB, 115 SO, 6.4 WAR
The case: The story of this year’s NL MVP race is about pitcher Clayton Kershaw of the LA Dodgers, plain and simple. Every fifth day, he’s turned in dominating starts that are unrivaled in the majors this year. For that, he more than deserves the Cy Young Award. He practically demands it. But, in my humble opinion, pitchers should not be eligible for the MVP. When a pitcher does win the MVP, it’s when he has a historically great season and there doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut MVP. However – for our purposes, the Cy Young will serve as the pitcher’s MVP. Moving on.
McCutchen combined another year of stellar defense with a league-leading .410 OBP and a sizzling .952 OPS, practically willing the Pirates squad to the playoffs. While I don’t subscribe to the notion that a player should be penalized for his team not making the playoffs, I would also say a player who exhibits the leadership and toughness that McCutchen did on his way to the playoffs should be rewarded. Throw in 18 stolen bases and 69 extra base hits, and you’ve got an MVP.
Others considered: Giancarlo Stanton, Jonathan Lucroy
National League Cy Young:
The pick: Clayton Kershaw, Starting Pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers
Stats: 27 GS, 198.1 IP, 21-3, 1.77 ERA, 6 CG, 2 SHO, 239 SO, 31 BB, 197 ERA+, 1.81 FIP, 0.857 WHIP, 10.8 SO/9
The case: Look directly above for the case. Not to mention he threw a no-hitter this year that might have been one of the most dominant starts, like, ever.
Kershaw’s 1.77 ERA was the 15th lowest since 1920. If we account for the changes in offense since that time, it still ranks as the 36th best season in that span.
Others deserving of 2nd place votes: Adam Wainwright, Johnny Cueto, Madison Bumgarner
NL Rookie of the Year:
The pick: Jacob De Grom, Starting Pitcher, New York Mets
Stats: 22 GS, 140.1 IP, 9-6, 2.69 ERA, 144 SO, 43 BB, 130 ERA+, 2.67 FIP, 1.14 WHIP, 9.2 SO/9
The case: Billy Hamilton was fun. If you’d asked me at the All-Star break, Hamilton would’ve been the obvious choice. But hitting .200 in the second half and getting caught stealing 22 times definitely knocks you down a peg.
Enter De Grom. The shaggy young Mets starter posted a 1.99 ERA in his final 15 starts, one of the best marks in the league during that span. Between him, Syndegaard, and Harvey, the Mets might actually be fun next year.
Others considered: Billy Hamilton, Ender Inciarte, Ken Giles
NL Manager of the Year:
The pick: Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals
The case: The Cardinals incorporated three rookies into the lineup nearly every game, and at points during this season, it seemed as though St. Louis could actually miss the playoffs. The Brewers, Reds, and Pirates have all become perennial contenders, but here are the Cardinals again, winners of 90 games and the Central division.
Others considered: Bruch Bochy, Matt Williams
Bernstein is a member of the class of 2018.
Illustration courtesy of Liz Beson, Staff Illustrator.