It is that time of year that the Baseball Bloggers Alliance demands that I cast my ballot for the standard season-ending awards. They call them different names that I am too lazy to look up, but they are basically the same. Also, it is Friday and the Angels aren't in the playoffs but it is also too early to start talking off-season plans, so I need a filler piece. Award voting, perfect! As an added bonus, I am throwing in my likely highly erroneous post-season predictions as well.
Let's start with the National League because I am a big fan of burying the lede.
NL Manager of the Year – Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals
Best record in baseball? Check. Being really good when most thought you wouldn't be that good? Check. That's usually good enough on its own merit, but I must admit that he earned my vote back in spring training when he called Drew Storen Tinkerbell.
NL Reliever of the Year (this award is a BBA creation, not a "real" award) – Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
He struck out everyone, like EVERYONE, and allowed a mere 27 hits in 62.2 innings. That's just bonkers.
NL Rookie of the Year – Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
This one is actually a lot closer than you think because of the sneaky good season Wade Miley had. However, the edge to me is the degree of difficulty Harper had given his youth and that he was being counted on so much more in the Nats' lineup.
NL Cy Young – R.A. Dickey, New York Mets
This is such a close race that I almost invented a three-sided coin just so I could flip it. At the end of the day, I went with Dickey strictly because he threw several more innings than Kershaw or Gonzalez.
NL Most Valuable Player – Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Another tough one. To me, this is between Posey and Yadier Molina. Posey is the better hitter but Molina is a better defender. The problem is catcher defense is incredibly hard to measure. All I know is Posey is good defensively too and by my estimation he is better offensively than Molina is better defensively. Keep this offense vs. defense comparison in mind. It will come in handy later.
AL Manager of the Year – Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics
I know Buck Showalter is going to win in a landslide, but Melvin gets my vote. He elevated a team that was expected to be just as lousy and actually took them higher both in terms of record but also in pulling off the upset in the division. The real kicker to me though is that Oakland's success seems more real. They have a legitimately good run differential and don't have a ridiculously unsustainable win-loss record in one-run games. Showalter was good but it seems that he was the beneficiary of more randomness and luck than Melvin and the A's were.
AL Rookie of the Year – Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
This is kind of like the Grammys when Green Day is nominated for Best Rock Album and Best Album, but everyone puts on the charade that somehow Green Day won't win Best Rock Album even though their Best Album nomination already gives it away.
AL Reliever of the Year – Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays
I still can't my head around the idea of "Fernando Rodney: Awesome Closer" but I also can't argue with his 0.60 ERA. I am now going to light an effigy of Tony Reagins on fire.
AL Cy Young – Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
Last season he was so good that he won the Cy and the MVP. This season he was about 97% as good as that incredible season. That is still pretty damn good and worthy of the Cy Young.
AL Most Valuable Player – Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
I'm not going to belabor this because I have written about this ad nauseum on this site over the last month. I'm doing every thing I can to remove my personal team bias from this but the way this shapes up for me is that Cabrera was the best hitter in the AL and Trout was the second-best. I don't think anyone will aargue about that. What might be more debatable is the gap between the two. In my personal opinion, I don't think it is very big. What I do think is very big is the gap between Trout's defensive and baserunning contributions and Cabrera's. Trout might be the best defender in baseball at one of the most important positions and his baserunning is unparalleled. Whereas Miggy is a negative on defense and, at best, a non-entity on the basepaths. That's more than enough to close the gap in offensive value as far as I am concerned. And, hey ma! Look! I did that whole argument with referring to WAR!!!
OK, now for the post-season predictions which I am sure I am going to butcher.
NL Wild Card Death Match – Braves over Cardinals, because Kris Medlen
AL Wild Card Death Match – Rangers over Orioles, because Yu Darvish
NL Division Series1 – Braves over Nationals in 4, because the Nats just give me that feeling of the team that has been on cruise control for too long
NL Division Series2 – Reds over Giants in 5, because honestly, the Reds are just better
AL Division Series1 – Yankees over Rangers in 4, because I think Texas blew their wad trying and failing to win the AL West
AL Division Series2 – Athletics over Tigers in 5, because Detroit's defense is going to be their undoing
NL League Championship Series – Reds over Braves in 5, because the Reds are just that good and Barves gonna Barve
AL League Championship Series – Athletics over Yankees in 7, because the A's are peaking at the right time, have homefield and a better bullpen
World Series – Reds over Athletics in 6, because they have a built-in DH, I have hunch that Jay Bruce is going to catch fire and I really don't want to live in a world where Jonny Gomes has a ring but Joey Votto doesn't.