Breaking down the MLB Awards
The Pirates’ Clint Hurdle and Andrew McCutchen will defend their respective NL Manager of the Year and NL MVP honors as the Baseball Writers Association of America awards are announced this week.
The Rookies of the Year (Monday), Managers of the Year (Tuesday), Cy Young winners (Wednesday) and MVPs (Thursday) will be revealed during hour-long programs each night on MLB Network starting at 6 p.m.
The following is an analysis of the finalists and their candidacies.
Finalists: Matt Williams (Nationals), Clint Hurdle (Pirates), Bruce Bochy (Giants).
Breakdown: Williams was the only finalist to lead his club to a division title or 90 wins, taking over a team that missed the playoffs in 2013. But Williams was one of the least active in-game managers, according to Grantland.com, and also failed to get the Nationals to buy into defensive shifts. … The Pirates bought into a more contact-focused hitting philosophy in 2014 under Hurdle and his staff, helping the club overcome a downturn in run prevention. Hurdle was rewarded for giving Josh Harrison a chance to play every day and has integrated the analytics staff as well as any manager. If this is an award for postseason managing, it is Bochy in a rout, but it’s not and the Giants just got into the postseason as a second wild card.
Who should win: Hurdle
Finalists: Buck Showalter (Orioles), Ned Yost (Royals), Mike Scioscia (Angels)
Breakdown: The Orioles lost stars Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters for significant portions of the season and were able to win the AL East by 12 games. Yost managed the Royals to their first postseason berth since 1985, but only Williams was less active than Yost in making in-game strategic decisions, according to Grantland.com. It’s difficult to separate Scioscia from the Angels’ considerable individual talent.
Who should win: Showalter
NL Cy Young
Finalists: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Johnny Cueto (Reds), Adam Wainwright (Cardinals)
Breakdown: Cueto (20 wins, 2.25 ERA) and Wainwright (20 wins, 2.38 ERA) were great, but Kershaw had a season for the ages. His 1.77 ERA was the lowest since Pedro Martinez posted a 1.74 mark in 2000. He led the majors with a 0.86 WHIP and six complete games. He limited opponents to a .196 average and struck out nearly eight batters for every walk he issued.
Who should win: Kershaw
AL Cy Young
Finalists: Felix Hernandez (Mariners), Corey Kluber (Indians), Chris Sale (White Sox)
Breakdown: Hernandez (2.44), Kluber (2.14) and Sale (2.17) posted dominant ERAs. Each struck out more than a batter per inning and limited walks. But Hernandez and Kluber threw 60 more innings than Sale. With excellent fastball command and wipeout slider, Kluber produced more Wins Above Replacement (7.2) than Hernandez (6.3).
Who should win: Kluber
Finalists: Kershaw (Dodgers), Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins), Andrew McCutchen (Pirates)
Breakdown: Stanton was the most feared hitter in the National League hitting 37 home runs and driving in 105 runs. McCutchen was again a dominant offensive force, posting a .410 on-base and 25 home runs, though his defense slipped in 2014. The “V” in MVP stands for valuable, and the Dodgers were 23-4 in Kershaw’s starts.
Who should win: Kershaw
Finalists: Mike Trout (Angels), Michael Brantley (Indians), Victor Martinez (Tigers)
Breakdown: Martinez homered (32) nearly as many times as he struck out (42) — but was mostly a DH. Brantley hit .327 with power (20 homers) and speed (23 steals). Mike Trout was once again dominant with 36 home runs, 115 RBIs and 111 runs, though his strikeouts were up, while playing center field.
Who should win: Trout
Finalists: Jacob deGrom (Mets), Billy Hamilton (Reds), Kolten Wong (Cardinals)
Breakdown: Hamilton (56 steals) cooled in the second half, and deGrom did not (2.69 ERA, 9.2 Ks/9, 2.7 walks per nine).
Who should win: deGrom
Finalists: Jose Abreu (White Sox), Dellin Betances (Yankees), Matt Shoemaker (Angels)
Breakdown: Abreu closes the case with his .317 average and 36 home runs.
Who should win: Abreu