The Baseball Writers Association of America released the names of the players who are up for its annual season ending awards Wednesday night. It was the first time in the history of the BBWAA that finalists were announced.
The BBWAA hands out the Rookie of the Year, the Manager of the Year, Cy Young, and Most Valuable Player Awards at the end of every season. This year, those awards will be handed out next week, beginning with the Rookies of the Year on Monday (Nov. 12). After that, the Managers of the Year will be announced on Tuesday (Nov. 13), followed by the Cy Young winners on Wednesday (Nov. 14). The final award winners will be the MVPs and those will be handed out one week from today on Thursday (Nov. 15).
The National League (NL) Rookie of the Year finalists are Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals, Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds and Wade Milley of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Nothing against Milley, but he will finish third in the voting. This NL ROY is really a two horse race between Harper and Frazier. Both players had stellar seasons and both players helped lead their team to the post season.
As a 19 year old, Harper hit more home runs (22) than anyone in the history of the game to play at the age of 19 except for Tony Conigliaro (24 in 1964). Harper also batted .270 while scoring 98 runs, driving in 59 runs and stole 18 bases. Those are exceptional numbers for a guy who started the season in the minor leagues.
Nothing against Frazier who also had a great season, but he finished the season hitting .273 with 19 homers, 55 runs scored, 67 RBIs, and three stolen bases. Yes, Frazier had eight more RBI and hit three points better than Harper, but Harper clearly outshined Frazier in the rest of the categories.
My vote for NL ROY goes to Harper.
The American League (AL) Rookie of the Year Award finalist should not be a surprise to anyone. The top three candidates are Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem, Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics, and Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers.
At the beginning of the year, the preseason favorite was Darvish. But with as great a freshman season as the Japanese import had, in my mind he will finish No. 3. The American League runner up should be Cespedes. With 23 home runs, 82 RBIs, 70 runs scored, 16 stolen bases, and batting .292, the Cuban defector would have won the award in any other year with what he did for the A’s offense. But there is no way anyone can beat what Trout did for the Angels. Trout blasted 30 homers, stole 49 bases, hit .326 and scored 129 runs.
Trout will be the 2012 AL ROY.
The three NL Manager of the Year candidates are Dusty Baker of Cincinnati, Bruce Bochy of San Francisco, and Davey Johnson of Washington.
Yes, Bruce Bochy led the Giants to a second World Series championship in three years. But the Giants were expected to win. Baker led the Reds to an NL Central title, beat the defending champion Cardinals by 9 games.
But in my mind, Johnson has to be the NL Manager of the Year. Johnson led the Nationals to the best record in the National League. Johnson kept his team winning after Washington ownership shutdown super stud Steven Strasberg and cost the Nationals a chance to go deep into the postseason.
Johnson gets my vote, but I have a feeling others will vote for Bochy.
The AL Manager of the Year will be a tough one. Bob Melvin of Oakland and Buck Showalter of Baltimore both led their teams to the playoffs when experts predicted losing seasons. Showalter had the Orioles fighting for the AL East until the end and Melvin took a team that was supposed to lose 100 games and won the AL West. The third candidate for AL Manager of the Year is freshman manager Robin Ventura.
In a close race, my vote goes to Melvin as his team won the AL West.
The National League Cy Young candidates are Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals, R.A. Dickey of the Mets, and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers.
Clayton Kershaw is the reigning NL Cy Young winner, but he will not be repeating this year. Kershaw won just 14 games while leading the NL with a 2.53 ERA. He threw 227.2 innings and struck out 229 batters. That is good for just over a strikeout for every inning pitched.
I want to see Gonzalez win the award. After being traded from Oakland to Washington, Gonzalez dominated the NL. Gonzalez led all of Major League Baseball with 21 wins after having a previous career high of 16 wins (in 2011). Gonzalez is the only finalist who did NOT cross the 200 innings pitched threshold, but he just barely missed it (by .2 innings).
But for as much as I want to see Gonzalez win it, I can’t give him my vote. Dickey had an unbelievable season. He became the first knuckleball pitcher to win 20 games in over 30 years (Joe Niekro won 20 with Houston in 1980). But Dickey didn’t just win 20 games, he won 20 games for a team that finished with a losing record. The Mets were 74-88 in 2012, meaning Dickey earned close to a third of the Mets’ wins over the course of the season.
That’s not all. Dickey also led the National League in strikeouts (230) and innings pitched (233.2). Dickey had a better ERA (2.73) than Gonzalez (2.89) while playing on a team that was much worse.
After being the first knuckleball pitcher in 32 years to win 20 games, Dickey should be the first to ever win the CY Young Award.
The American League Cy Young Award will be a little more difficult. David Price (Tampa Bay), Justin Verlander (Detroit) and Jered Weaver (Angels) all had great seasons on the mound.
Weaver and Price both won 20 games while Verlander (17 wins) led all of baseball with 239 strikeouts as well in innings pitched (238.1). Price was eighth in the AL with 211 and Weaver was 20th with 188.2. Verlander also pitched his team to the World Series while Price and Weaver did not make the playoffs. Price (2.59), Verlander (2.64) and Weaver (2.81) finished 1-2-3 in the American League for the ERA title.
For me it comes down to two men, Verlander and Weaver. Verlander is the closest thing today’s youth will see that can resemble the great Nolan Ryan. But Ryan never won a Cy Young award and if my vote counted, Verlander won’t win it this year.
My vote goes to Weaver. Weaver missed a couple of starts and did not throw over 200 innings, but when Weaver was on the mound, he dominated. So much in fact, that Weaver threw a no-hitter against the Minnesota Twins.
The final award is the MVPs. For this one, there are five finalists. The National League finalists are Ryan Braun (Milwaukee), Chase Headley (San Diego), Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh), Yadier Molina (St. Louis) and Buster Posey (San Francisco).
All five players had great seasons. McCutchen was a big reason why the Pirates in contention for the NL Central through late August. Braun, the defending NL MVP, posted career bests in homers with 41 (led the NL) and RBIs (112) after losing the presence of Prince Fielder behind him in the batting order. Braun also reached the 30-30 (homers and stolen bases) plateau for the second straight year. Headley lead the National League with 115 RBIs while playing half the season in a pitchers park.
For me though, the award goes to one of two players and both are catchers.
Molina had a career high 22home runs with 76 RBI and batted .315, all without Albert Pujols in the lineup. Molina was one of five Cardinals to hit 20-plus homers, a first in franchise history.
Then there is Posey. After missing most of the 2011 season because of an injury, Posey made his way back and led the National League in batting with a .336 average. Posey smacked 24 home runs and plated 103 runs while helping to lead the Giants back to the World Series.
This one is as close as it can get for me, but in the end, my vote will go to Posey.
The American League finalists are Adrian Beltre (Texas), Miguel Cabrera (Detroit), Robinson Cano (New York Yankees), Josh Hamilton (Texas) and Trout (Angels).
I know there will be a lot of debate on this one, but let me say just two words to you.
Triple Crown. Case closed.
There has not been a Triple Crown winner in all of baseball since 1967 when Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski won the award. In all, it has been accomplished only 17 times.
Cabrera is the AL Most Valuable Player.