As the 2017 Major League Baseball season rushes to a conclusion, ballots have gone out for Postseason awards. As a member of the IBWAA, I have the privilege of casting a vote each season. With the awards being a reflection of a full season of work, my ballot has already been cast and is ready to be unveiled.
Throughout the 2017 season, we've seen a handful of exciting performances from veterans and rookies alike. Both on the mound and at the plate, major leaguers across both the American and National leagues have once again treated us to some spectacular performances. In rewarding their efforts, here's who I am suggesting for each major award.
Let's get into it.
American League MVP- Jose Altuve
Others receiving votes: Mike Trout, Chris Sale, Jose Ramirez, George Springer, Aaron Judge, Eric Hosmer, Elvis Andrus, Jonathan Schoop, and Francisco Lindor
Not willing to vote a pitcher for the MVP award, this was essentially a two horse race. Altuve's strongest competition was the Angels Mike Trout, and the time he missed due to injury hurt him here. Altuve has been incredible in 2017, and is going to run away with the batting title. He's actually upped his OPS in 2017, and continued to be the catalyst for a Houston Astros team that is on a crash course towards the World Series. Having finished third a season ago, it's time Altuve wins this award.
American League Cy Young- Chris Sale
Others receiving votes: Corey Kluber, Luis Severino, Chris Archer, and Carlos Carrasco
The Red Sox paid a hefty price to acquire Sale from the Chicago White Sox, but he's been worth every penny. Virtually a guaranteed win each time out, Sale leads the league in K/9 and FIP while essentially walking no one. He's not afraid of any hitter that steps into the box, and he's probably going to strike them out. If the Red Sox can make a deep Postseason run, it will be on the heels of Sale's dominance.
American League Rookie of the Year- Aaron Judge
Others receiving votes: Andrew Benintendi and Trey Mancini
Plenty has been made of Judge regressing in the second half, but the reality is his season has been nothing short of spectacular. Leading the AL in homers with 41, Judge has struck out plenty, but he's also coaxed a league leading amount of walks. The right fielder has been at the heart of the Bronx Bombers staying in playoff contention, and he should be plenty of fun for years to come.
American League Manager of the Year- Terry Francona
Others receiving votes: AJ Hinch and Mike Scioscia
After a World Series loss a season ago, the Indians are again a threat in October. While Francona club stumbled out of the gates, they've turned it on down the stretch. While it was the Astros that looked like they'd run away with the league, Cleveland has held their own and gotten hot at the right time. Dealing with plenty of injuries, and getting more from key contributors like Jose Ramirez, it's impossible to overlook the job Francona has done.
American League Reliever of the Year- Craig Kimbrel
Others receiving votes: Andrew Miller and Tommy Kahnle
Forget the 32 saves this year for the Read Sox, Kimbreal owns a 1.50 ERA and a ridiculous 1.25 FIP. He's striking out almost 17 batters per nine innings and he has a career best 1.8 BB/9. If there's a guy you don't want to see on the mound in the 9th or any other inning for that matter, it's Craig Kimbrel.
National League MVP- Giancarlo Stanton
Others receiving votes: Charlie Blackmon, Anthony Rendon, Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, Corey Seager, Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant, Zack Cozart
There's been plenty of seasons in which we've wondered what a full year of Giancarlo Stanton might look like. The answer we've been given is that we probably weren't prepared for this. With 50 plus homers already, and the potential to hit 60, his power stroke has been insane. A .644 SLG is an incredible number, and Stanton has taken his OPS to new heights. He plays on a mediocre team, and that was considered, but this offensive year was too fun to ignore.
National League Cy Young- Max Scherzer
Others receiving votes: Jimmy Nelson, Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Greinke
The Nationals made a significant investment when they signed Max Scherzer, and with the deferred money, it could hang over their heads for some time. The club needs to win a World Series with him as their ace, and in 2017, they'll again have a strong shot. Again a strikeout artist, Schewrzer owns a career best 2.32 ERA and his 5.6 H/9 leads the league. He's positioned to repeat as the Cy Young winner, and should tally his third award.
National League Rookie of the Year- Cody Bellinger
Others receiving votes: Paul DeJong and Ian Happy
Few rookies burst onto the scene and look as complete as the Dodgers Bellinger. Taking over a starting spot since his promotion, Bellinger has been a threat at the plate and an asset in the field since day one. With 34 long balls and a .939 OPS, he's among the best hitters in the National League already. Just 21 years old, Los Angeles is in for a lot of great production from a player advanced well beyond his years.
National League Manager of the Year- Dave Roberts
Others receiving votes: Dusty Baker and Torey Lovullo
Despite slumping somewhat down the stretch, it can't be overstated as to just how good the Dodgers have been in 2017. The NL West has two other potential playoff teams, and Los Angeles has been double-digit games clear of them for months. The team calling Chavez Ravine home has so much talent, and Roberts has positioned them well for the majority of the season. It's World Series or bust for this grouping, but they have been tough to beat when at their best.
National League Reliever of the Year- Kenley Jansen
Others receiving votes: Felipe Rivero and Archie Bradley
Jansen just continues to get better each year. Utilizing virtually one pitch, he has mowed down hitters in 2017. With a 14.1 K/9 and just a 1.0 BB/9, he's about as money as it gets when it comes to any high leverage situation. With the Dodgers calling on him to close out games, he's been more up to the task, and he's as much a sure thing as it gets. Jansen is the gold standard when it comes to relief work, and that should continue to be the expectation going forward.