Monday, September 21, 2015

It's Officially Awards Season

Just about a year ago now, I became a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. In an effort to bring writers and bloggers from the interwebs together in a common group, the IBWAA was formed on July 4, 2009. Separate and different from the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America), the IBWAA does things similarly, but on its own accord.

As the Major League Baseball season comes to a close, the IBWAA and its members participate in the first voting process of the season (with Hall of Fame voting taking place in December). Looking to tab the MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, and Reliever of the Year for both leagues, the IBWAA ballots have been sent out.

After putting in some significant amount of time sorting through possible candidates, my ballot has been cast, and selections have been accounted for. In an effort to create transparency, here's my votes and reasons why.

American League

MVP- Mike Trout .291/.394/.580 94 R 26 2B 5 3B 39 HR 85 RBI 173 OPS+ 7.7fWAR

If you've watched the American League landscape at all this season, you're more than well aware that the MVP race has been a two man conversation. While Josh Donaldson has been unbelievable for the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Canadian team will make the playoffs, it's Trout who's the most valuable.

Without the contributions of Trout, the Angels aren't in the position they find themselves with a handful of games to play. Arguably the sports best athlete, Trout has been an offensive juggernaut, while also getting it done with his glove. His 3 DRS (defensive runs saved) are his best total since 2012, and he's put up better numbers than his 2014 MVP winning totals. Back-to-back, Mike Trout is my AL MVP.

Cy Young- David Price 2.42 ERA 16 W 212 K 2.80 FIP 9.2 K/9 6.0 fWAR

After winning the AL Cy Young with the Tampa Bay Rays back in 2012, Price again gets my vote in 2015. Following a strong start to the year with the Detroit Tigers (2.53 ERA 3.07 FIP in 21 starts), he's been even better since being dealt to Toronto.

The Blue Jays surge has catapulted them from the outside looking in, to the head of the pack in the American League. Price has been unbelievable on the mound, positing a 2.17 ERA, 2.17 FIP, 10.7 K/9, and a 7-1 record in nine starts with his new team. I gave pitchers like Dallas Kuechel, Chris Archer, and even Carlos Carrasco a look, but Price runs away with this one.

Rookie of the Year- Miguel Sano .280/.396/.569 40 R 16 2B 17 HR 49 RBI 159 OPS+ 2.4 fWAR

Outside of the Trout vote, this is probably the most shocking on my ballot thus far. With players like Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor both having stellar rookie campaigns, Sano could be argued to be on the outside looking in. However, it's what Sano has done despite his limitations that make him the recipient of my vote.

Playing in exactly 20 less games than Correa (and virtually never playing the field), he trails the Astros shortstop by just 0.4 fWAR (2.8 fWAR for Correa). Sano has launched on less homer, and has driven in more runs. Boiled down to the basic principle, in every way, Sano has been the best rookie hitter in the American League. Correa and Lindor provide defensive value, but for me, it's not enough to trump the impressive reality of what the Twins star has done at the plate.

Manager- Jeff Banister (80-69 first in AL West)

After the departure of Ron Washington, the Rangers seemed thrown into somewhat of a frenzy. With an odd roster construction, and a division already given to the Mariners or Angels, Texas had no business winning. In 2015 though, that's exactly what has happened.

Banister kept the Rangers in it through the midst of the summer. Cole Hamels came over, and while he hasn't been great, has signified Texas intended to win. Behind the stand out season from Prince Fielder, the Rangers have done just that. After a sweep of the then first place Houston Astros, Texas has taken over and hasn't looked back. It's been an impressive 2015 for Banister and his club.

Reliever- Zach Britton 2.04 ERA 34 SV 1.99 FIP 11.1 K/9

Although the Orioles are going to miss the playoffs, it won't be because of the man at the back end of their pen. Zach Britton, who was converted to a closer just a season ago, has been lights out in 2015. After a strong first season as the man in the ninth, Britton has been even better this time around.

While Britton did rack up 37 saves a season ago, along with a 1.65 ERA, it's the peripherals that jump off the page. A 3.13 FIP in 2014 suggested that Britton was pitching over his head. There's also the 11.1 K/9 in 2015, a mark almost four strikoeuts per nine higher than any other point in his career. The first time All Star has had an outstanding season, and Britton is my AL Reliever of the Year.

National League

MVP- Bryce Harper .343/470/.674 116 R 35 2B 41 HR 95 RBI 206 OPS+ 9.6 fWAR

I almost feel as if there's no need to explain this, and there really isn't. Bryce Harper is having a season that will likely not be replicated for years to come. It doesn't matter that his team isn't going to make the playoffs, or that his manager is clueless. Bryce Harper walks away with the NL MVP this year, and even crazier, he put up these numbers at the age of 22.

Cy Young- Zack Greinke 1.65 ERA 18 W 185 K 2.77 FIP 8.0 K/9 5.5 fWAR

It's probably unfair looking at what the Dodgers have as a one-two punch in their starting rotation. Following Greinke, is 2015 Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw. While Kershaw is my runner up in 2015, he just misses out on winning his 4th award and third straight.

Not only is Greinke's ERA dazzling this season, but he has been the catalyst that has been consistently accountable to get it done for the Dodgers. Los Angeles has some issues in the bullpen, and they may not win a World Series despite the massive payroll, but it won't have anything to do with Greinke.

Rookie of the Year- Kris Bryant .273/.369/.496 82 R 29 2B 25 HR 95 RBI 134 OPS+ 5.8 fWAR

Prior to the season, Bryant was billed by many as the best prospect in baseball and a generational talent. Thus far, he's held his own living up to the hype. On a Cubs team that has turned the corner in a big way, it's been Bryant (along with Anthony Rizzo) at the center of it.

His 25 home runs leads all rookie hitters. He's nearly plated 100 runs in just 139 games, and he was voted to the All Star game. Whatever way you cut it, Bryant has been as good as expected. Matt Duffy and Jung-ho Kang had great 2015's, but unfortunately they were chasing an unreachable goal.

Manager- Terry Collins (84-65 first in NL East)

Sometimes off things happen, because that's baseball. Terry Collins has seen his managerial exploits be chastised more often than not, but there's no pouring water on what the Mets have accomplished this season. Collins was given a massive boost named Yoenis Cespedes, but getting it done in 2015 ultimately reflects back to him.

Coming into the season with the Washington Nationals being crowned World Series winners from the get go, the Mets were an afterthought. Collins had his bunch hang around late enough into the season, and then he led them to deliver the haymaker effectively ending the Nats season a few weeks ago. The Mets are a World Series contender, and Terry Collins is in the middle of all of it.

Reliever- Mark Melancon 1.91 ERA 48 SV 2.91 FIP 6.6 K/9

Unlike Zach Britton in the American League, Melancon doesn't boast great peripheral numbers. He's taken steps back in FIP as well as his strikeout numbers. His ERA, though still sparkling, isn't where it's been either of the last two seasons either. What he has done is close out games, and a lot of them.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are one of the best teams in the National League, and Melancon locking down games has been a key reason as to why. His 48 saves lead the big leagues, and outside of Trevor Rosenthal's 46, no one is particularly close.

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