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Who Deserves Baseball's Post-Season Awards in 2017?

Updated on April 1, 2020
GaryKauffman profile image

Following a successful career as a journalist, graphic designer, and marketer, Gary Kauffman is now a freelance writer.

There are many strong candidates for baseball's post-season awards for 2017.
There are many strong candidates for baseball's post-season awards for 2017. | Source

There were no baseball games on Monday, but it was still a busy day for some people in the baseball world. It was the day that sportswriters around the country were casting their ballots to decide the post-season awards.

Although the winners won’t be announced until mid-November, the voting takes place at the close of the regular season. This keeps the writers who vote for the awards from being unduly influenced if a player has a spectacularly good or spectacularly bad post-season.

The voting is done by two writers from each city that has a Major League team, meaning that there are 30 votes cast in American League and 30 in the National League. Voters list their top 10 choices for the award, and the total number of points tallied, using a weighted formula (more points for a first-place vote than a second-place vote, etc.) Technically, this means someone could receive the most first-place votes and still not win the award.

This almost happened in 1947 when Ted Williams received only three first-place votes but finished just one point overall behind Joe DiMaggio, who received eight first-place votes. Relief pitcher Joe Page received seven first-place votes, only one fewer than DiMaggio, but finished fourth overall in the voting.

I am not one of the writers who gets to cast a vote for the awards, but below I'm listing my choices for this season's awards.

Rookie of the Year

Let’s start with the slam-dunk awards winners, Rookie of the Year. Neither league will have a close vote. In fact, Aaron Judge in the American League and Cody Bellinger in the National League should be unanimous winners.

Judge, of course, shattered a number of rookie records, including home runs and walks, led the American League in runs scored and finished second in on base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS only because Mike Trout managed to get enough plate appearances in the final week of the season to qualify in those areas.

Bellinger, despite not being called up to the big leagues until April 25, set the National League rookie record for home runs and has enjoyed phenomenal success in the middle of an outstanding Dodgers lineup. If not for Judge’s amazing season, Bellinger would receive even more accolades.

Cy Young

Cy Young Award is slightly more difficult than Rookie of the Year, but it really boils down to just two legitimate candidates in either league.

In the American League, the choice is between Chris Sale of the Red Sox and Corey Kluber of the Indians. Until August, it looked like Sale would be the easy choice. But he slumped slightly and Kluber kept pitching like an automaton. Kluber has a better won-loss record, 18-4 compared to 17-8. But more significantly, Kluber has a lower ERA (2.25 to 2.90), lower WHIP (number of runners on base per inning, 0.87 to 0.97) and a better strikeout to walk ratio (265/36 to 308/43). Kluber also leads the league with five complete games. Obviously, not a great deal of difference but I will go with Kluber.

In the National League, the two dueling for the award are last year’s winner, Max Scherzer of the Nationals and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers. Kershaw has a slight edge in ERA (2.31 to 2.51), strikeout to walk ratio (202/30 to 268/55) and has a better record (18-4 to 16-6). Scherzer has a better WHIP (0.90 to 0.95). Again, very close but the edge probably goes to Kershaw.

Manager of the Year

Manager of the Year is usually a tough one because the tendency is to want to award a division-winning team but often it’s the ones who perform better than expected that deserve it.

This is the case in the American League. Even though Terry Francona of the Indians and A.J. Hinch of the Astros will get plenty of attention, the frontrunners are Joe Girardi of the Yankees and Paul Molitor of the Twins for doing what no one expected. With a young team, few expected the Yankees to finish above fourth place and the Twins were expected to finish last. Yet they will meet tonight in the AL Wild Card game. Both exceeded expectations, but Molitor probably had less talent, so I will give the award to him.

In the National League, it also comes down to two men with overachieving teams, Torey Luvullo of the Diamondbacks and Craig Counsell of the Brewers. The Brewers unexpectedly gave the Cubs a run for their money in the NL Central. But the Diamondbacks, who were expected to finish below .500 in some pre-season predictions, have the third best record in the NL, just with the misfortune of being in the same division as the Dodgers. My choice is Luvullo.

Most Valuable Player—AL

Now comes the one that usually creates the most heated arguments–the Most Valuable Player Award. It doesn’t help that there is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means–best stats and, if so, which stats? Helped his team the most? Played steadily at a high rate all season?

In the AL, the names mentioned the most have been Jose Altuve of the Astros, Aaron Judge, Jose Ramirez of the Indians (although I would pick teammate Franciso Lindor ahead of him) and Trout, who missed a chunk of the season with an injury but is again putting up great numbers.

The problem is that all of them have great numbers, just in different areas–Altuve has the hits and high batting average, Judge has the homers and runs scored, Ramirez and Lindor are strong all around and Trout is, well, Troutlike once again. So I am going to look at the numbers in a nontraditional way.

Since runs are what help a team win, I’m going to look at total times on base (since that puts a player in position to score) and runs created (runs plus RBIs minus homers).

American League

Times on Base
On Base
Aaron Judge
Jose Altuve
Eric Hosmer
Brian Dozier
Mookie Betts
Runs Created
Runs Created
Aaron Judge
Mookie Betts
Justin Upton
Nelson Cruz
Jose Altuve

Surprisingly, Judge led in both categories. Although he only had 154 hits and Altuve had 204, Judge walked 127 times and was hit by a pitch five times. Altuve walked 58 times and was hit nine times. So Judge reached base 286 times compared to 271 times for Altuve. The only other player reasonably close is Eric Hosmer, reaching base 258 times. Neither Ramirez or Lindor was in the top 5, but another infielder, Brian Dozier of the Twins, reached base 252 times. The Indian reaching base the most was Edwin Encarnacion, also 252 times.

Judge also posted a sizeable lead in runs created. With 128 runs and 114 RBIs, subtracting 52 homers (since a homer counts as both a run and an RBI), Judge created 190 runs. Mookie Betts finished second with 179. Altuve finished fifth with 169. Again, neither Ramirez or Lindor finished in the top 5.

So, looking at those numbers, I will give the MVP edge to Judge for doing the most to help his team to score runs, which lead to wins.

Most Valuable Player—NL

The National League situation is even more sticky. Giancarlo Stanton belted an astounding 59 homers, just the sixth player to reach that total in homers. J.D. Martinez has been amazing all around in Arizona since coming over from the Tigers, hitting 29 of his 45 homers for the Diamondbacks. If not for a major injury, Bryce Harper would have put up numbers that may not even make this a contest, since he put up great stats before his leg injury. Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado enjoyed fantastic seasons in Colorado and Paul Goldschmidt is like the unknown Mike Trout, putting up great numbers year after year. Joey Votto posted a great season with a bad team and, of course, there is Bellinger’s unbelievable rookie campaign.

National League

Times on Base
On Base
Joey Votto
Charlie Blackmon
Kris Bryant
Anthony Rizzo
Paul Goldschmidt
Runs Created
Runs Created
Charlie Blackmon
Paul Goldschmidt
Giancarlo Stanton
Nolan Arenado
Marcell Ozuna

So I will apply the same two metrics as with the AL race.

Votto reached base a whopping 321 times, in large part to walking 134 times. Blackmon is second with 288, followed by two Cubs, Kris Bryant, 272, and Anthony Rizzo, 271, with Goldschmidt rounding out the top 5 at 268.

Blackmon, a leadoff hitter, topped the NL in runs recreated with 204, slightly ahead of Goldschmidt’s 201. Stanton created 196, Arenado 193 and Stanton’s teammate, Marcell Ozuna, 180.

It’s a tough decision, and there may not be a wrong choice among the top four or five candidates. My pick is Blackmon by virtue of doing what he did as a leadoff hitter and playing centerfield.

Comeback Player

One last award that is usually given but most people don’t pay too much attention to – Comeback Player of the Year. This is another relatively easy one.

In the American League, Justin Smoak finally had the season people thought he could have. Last season he had a dismal .217 average with 14 homers and 34 RBIs. This year he improved greatly to .270/38/90.

In the National League, Ryan Zimmerman rebounded from a couple of injury-plagued seasons to post a .303/36/108 line. That’s five more homers and just 11 fewer RBIs than he had in the previous two seasons combined.


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