Christian Cieri, Illustrator

National League MVP

The pick: Bryce Harper, RF, Washington Nationals

Stats: 153 games, 42 HR, 99 RBIs, .330/.460/.649, 195 OPS+, 6 SB, 124 BB, 131 SO, 9.9 WAR

The case: By any metric, traditional or modern, Bryce Harper was the best player in baseball this year. He led the NL in homeruns, runs scored, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, ISO, wRC+, and so on and so forth. No one was as consistent or dominant this year, and for that, Harper should walk away with his first MVP award this year, one of the youngest to ever do so.

Others considered: Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo.

 

National League 

Cy Young Award

The pick: Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Stats: 33 GS, 232.2 IP, 16-7, 2.13 ERA, 4 CG, 3 SHO, 301 SO, 42 BB, 175 ERA+, 1.99 FIP, 0.881 WHIP, 11.9 SO/9

The case: My oh my, this is a close one. Kershaw’s numbers are difficult to separate from Jake Arrieta’s or Zack Greinke’s; both of them would be deserving winners of this award. However, Kershaw’s strikeout numbers aren’t just indicative of an ability to blow pitches by batters; they’re also the most useful tool a pitcher can use to not have to rely on the positioning or skill of his defense to affect the outcome of the at-bat. 301 strikeouts are the most by any pitcher since 2002, and the impressiveness of the number can’t be denied. For that reason, Kershaw gets the microscopic edge over Arrieta and Greinke.

Others considered: Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, Gerrit Cole.

 

National League 

Rookie of the Year

The pick: Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

Stats: 151 games, 26 HR, 99 RBIs, .275/.369/.488, 134 OPS+, 13 SB, 77 BB, 199 SO, 6.0 WAR

The case: Sure things are fun. It’s not often that a player crowned “the next big thing” before he’s even drafted actually turns out to be the next big thing. Kris Bryant is the next big thing. His versatility and contributions to one of the best teams in this year’s baseball make him the Rookie of the Year in a season chock-full of standout rookies.

Others considered: Matt Duffy, Kyle Schwarber, 

 

 

 

Noah Syndergaard.

 

NL Manager of the Year

The pick: Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs

The case: It would’ve been easy to hand this award to Mike Matheny, skipper of the 100-win Cardinals. However, Maddon kept his Cubs right there with the Cardinals the whole season, while giving an outrageous amount of playing time to rookies. His Cubs improved by 24 games this year and have real World Series aspirations for the first time in a while.

Others considered: Mike Matheny, Clint Hurdle.

 

American League MVP

The pick: Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angles

Stats: 159 games, 41 HR, 90 RBIs, .299/.402/.590, 176 OPS+, 11 SB, 92 BB, 158 SO, 9.4 WAR

The case: Josh Donaldson would’ve won the MVP in any other year. He put up huge offensive numbers, piling up a league-leading 123 RBIs. However, that’s a deceptive number that is more indicative of Donaldson’s teammates’ ability to get on base relative to Trout’s. Donaldson was the better defender by a hair, but Trout bested him at the plate, and without a Jose Bautisa or Edwin Encarnacion to help out. Trout is headed for his second straight MVP.

Other considered: Josh Donaldson.

 

American League Cy Young

The pick: David Price, SP, Toronto Blue Jays/Detroit Tigers

Stats: Hold on a second.

The case: Below are the season outputs of David Price and Astros star Dallas Keuchel. Consider: Pitcher A: 32 GS, 220.1 IP, 18-5, 2.45 ERA, 3 CG, 1 SHO, 225 SO, 47 BB, 161 ERA+, 2.78 FIP, 1.076 WHIP, 9.2 SO/9.

Pitcher B: 33 GS, 232.0 IP, 20-8, 2.48 ERA, 3 CG, 2 SHO, 216 SO, 51 BB, 162 ERA+, 2.91 FIP, 1.017 WHIP, 8.4 SO/9.

Picking a winner out of those two is nearly impossible. Their stat lines are startlingly similar, and you’d be hard pressed to find fault with picking either one.

Have you guessed which is which yet? Pitcher A is…Price. Down the stretch, Price helped push his team over the top to escape the Yankees, while Keuchel had his weakest stretch of the season from late August to the end of regular season. His Astros still snuck into the playoffs, but when it was crunch-time, Price performed at a higher level, and for that reason, David Price should take home the Cy this year.

 

American League Rookie of the Year

The pick: Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

Stats: 99 GS, 12 HR, 51 RBIs, .313/.353/.482, 122 OPS+, 12 SB, 27 BB, 69 SO, 4.6 WAR

The case: Carlos Correa’s standout defense and prodigious production at shortstop for a playoff-bound team would be enough on its own in most years, but Francisco Lindor ended this season as one of the best defenders in the league. Lindor’s roughly equal contributions on offense cement his position as the AL’s Rookie of the Year.

Others considered: Carlos Correa.

 

American League Manager of the Year

The pick: Jeff Banister, Texas Rangers

The case: The Rangers finished in last place in 2014 in a truly ugly fashion. After winning at least 87 games for five straight seasons, they plummeted to 67-95, and manager Ron Washington left the team under acrimonious circumstances.

This season, Banister’s squad fought the loss of Yu Darvish and generally poor pitching to fight their way to a division title after looking like they were out of it in late August. Now, they’re locked in a first-round battle with the Blue Jays, where no one would’ve put them this April. Banister should win, but a shout out to Joe Girardi for taking a team to the playoffs that gave 531 AB’s to Carlos Beltran is necessary.

Others considered: Joe Girardi, Ned Yost

Bernstein is a member of the class of 2018.

 



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