The 2014 Major League Baseball season came to a close just a few weeks ago. It was a season full of twists and turns, and unlikely outcomes. I mean, The Royals?! The dismantling of The Yankees and Red Sox. The insane post season performance of Madison Bumgardner.
The post season awards began this week with the Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers, while the rest are on their way. Here is a preview of how things might (or should) pan out.
[Editor’s Note: This piece was sent to me before the Rookie of the Year was announced on Monday November 10th. Reid’s picks were correct as both the Met’s Jacob DeGrom and the White Sox’s Jose Abreu won their League’s awards. Apologies from the editor to both Reid and the readers for the tardiness in posting this piece]
American League MVP: Mike Trout
After two long years of coming in second, “The Phenom” Mike Trout is finally the clear choice for the award.
Surrounded by ailing talent, Trout carried a make-shift Angels team to the AL West title. What makes this season even more impressive is that this is perhaps Trout’s worst season. Hitting only .287 and only stealing 16 bases is the kind of “off” season guys dream about. This should be the first of many awards for the second coming of Mickey Mantle.
Honorable Mentions: Nelson Cruz (BAL); Victor Martinez (DET); Albert Pujols (ANA); Robinson Cano (SEA)
National League MVP: Clayton Kershaw
I don’t know if there has ever been a pitcher to be the clear front runner for this award. It could be because there haven’t been a real impressive group of hitters in the National League this year, or it could be that Clayton Kershaw is the best player in baseball.
He led the league in wins and ERA, but what makes him scary good is that he only had SIX STARTS WITHOUT A WIN! He had nine less strikeouts than league leader Johnny Cueto, but Kershaw threw 38 innings less! Hands down your MVP.
Honorable Mentions: Giancarlo Stanton (MIA); Adrian Gonzalez (LA); Andrew McCutchen (PIT); Buster Posey (SF)
National League Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
This wasn’t close. This season was full of dominant performances from NL pitchers, but no one made the most of their appearances. He was three strikeouts short of the Triple Crown despite missing seven starts. If this guy can have 35 starts and better run support, you’re looking at a 30 game winner next season.
Honorable Mentions: Johnny Cueto (CIN); Aroldis Chapman (CIN); Adam Wainwright (STL); Madison Bumgardner (SF)
American League Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
King Felix dominated this season. With more offensive support he would have been the only 20 game winner in the American League. I guess he will have to live with a ridiculous 2.12 ERA in the best hitting division in the league. His 248 strikeouts show that he isn’t slowing down.
Honorable Mentions: Corey Kluber (CLE); Chris Sale (CWS); Jon Lester (BOS/OAK)
American League Manager of the Year: Ned Yost (KC)
Ned Yost, and the rest of the Kansas City Royals, are partying like it’s 1985. This is a Disney movie in the making, and Yost deserves 100% percent of the credit. He taught us all something we thought was a lie: Small ball works. Dead last in home runs, first in steals, and number one in the American League.
National League Manager of the Year: Matt Williams (WSH)
Put having the best record in baseball aside, Williams has an amazing statistic here: Three out of his five starting pitchers had ERA’s below 3.00.
The two who didn’t? Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez.
After switching Ryan Zimmerman to left field to boost his lineup, Williams proved that he is worthy of the award.
American League Rookie of the Year: Jose Abreu
Cuba has always been the Bermuda Triangle of baseball. No one’s really sure what’s there, but we know it’s dangerous. Jose Abreu escaped the Triangle and destroyed American League pitching all seasons. Abreu swatted 36 homeruns finishing third in the American League. He is going to be good for a long time.
Honorable Mentions: Yolondo Ventura (KC); Grant Richards (LAA)
National League Rookie of the Year: Jacob DeGrom
At the beginning of the season, not even Mets fans knew who Jacob DeGrom was. He was lost in a sea of pitching prospects and far from the big league radar. But after a dominant rookie season including a lights out second half, DeGrom is sure to take home the NL award. His 9-6 record does him no justice. With better run support he would have been a 14 game winner. He will be a player to watch for years.
Honorable Mentions: Billy Hamilton (CIN); Kolten Wong (STL); Joe Panik (SF)
American League Reliever of the Year: Greg Holland
Holland anchored the best bullpen in the league this year while converting an outstanding 46 saves in 48 chances. His ERA of 1.44 is actually a step backwards from last season (1.22), but he is still clearly the winner of this award. Perhaps his most daunting statistic is his 90 strikeouts to 20 walks (also a step backwards from last season). If this was an off year for Holland, then who knows what he will do in his bounce back season!
Honorable Mentions: Fernado Rodney (SEA); Zach Britton (BAL); David Robertson (NYY)
National League Reliever of the Year: Aroldis Chapman
He only had 36 saves. His ERA was an impressive, but not incredible 2.00. He only pitched 54 innings, but he had 106 strikeouts.
Hmmm. 54 innings, and 106 strikeouts? That comes out to be…. 17.67 STRIKEOUTS PER NINE INNINGS?!
Chapman owned hitters. I mean OWNED HITTERS. No one in league history has come close to that. He could be remembered as one of the all time great power pitchers.
Honorable Mentions: Craig Kimbrel (ATL); Mark Melancon (PIT); Kenley Jansen (LA)
American League Best Free Agent Signing: Nelson Cruz
Cruz signed with the Orioles shortly before the start of spring training to a one year $8 million contract. While that sounds like a lot, in baseball terms it is nothing special. His season, however, was quite special. Cruz led the league in home runs, had a career high in RBIs, and helped lead the O’s to the ALCS. For the money, Cruz was the steal of the year in the American League.
Honorable Mentions: Robinson Cano (SEA); Phil Hughes (MIN); Scott Kazmir (OAK)
National League Best Free Agent Signing: Justin Morneau
The former American League MVP was down on his luck last season. He was shunned by both the Twins and the Pirates in 2013, and contemplated retirement. The Rockies took a chance on Morenau with a 2-year deal, and the first season has paid dividends. He took home his first batting title with his highest batting average since 2010. It will be interesting to see if he can keep it up next season, but as for now he was the best signing this year in the National League.
Honorable Mentions: Edinson Volquez (PIT); Tim Hudson (SF); Jason Hammel (CHC)