Mike Trout

My MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year picks

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Here are my picks for the MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards for each league. Obviously, these are all for fun. I’m not a BBWAA member and do not have ballots for any of these awards.

Feel free to flame away.

AL MVP
1. Mike Trout
2. Miguel Cabrera
3. Robinson Cano
4. Adrian Beltre
5. Justin Verlander
6. Austin Jackson
7. David Price
8. Josh Hamilton
9. Adam Jones
10. Alex Rios

I put down my thoughts on Trout vs. Cabrera earlier this week. Cabrera is going to win the MVP, and I’m OK with that. I think Trout was pretty clearly the better player, but he did play in 22 fewer games after opening the season in the minors.

As for the rest, Cano’s awesome finishing kick thrust him from somewhere in the 7-10 range up to No. 3. That spot appeared likely to come down to Beltre vs. Hamilton a couple of weeks ago, but Hamilton’s disappearing act nearly knocked him off the ballot entirely.

I went for Jones over Matt Wieters as the token Oriole. I really wanted to give the last spot to Edwin Encarnacion, but I couldn’t quite justify it. Joe Mauer and Ben Zobrist were also in the running, but Rios had a pretty terrific season.

AL Cy Young
1. Justin Verlander
2. David Price
3. Felix Hernandez
4. Fernando Rodney
5. Chris Sale

Price had the ERA lead, the wins and the tougher schedule. Strictly on an inning-by-inning basis, I’d give him the edge over Verlander here. Still, I think the difference is pretty small and doesn’t make up for the fact that Verlander made the equivalent of four more starts that Price did. Considering the infield defense behind him, the fact that Verlander finished second in the league in WHIP and batting average allowed is pretty amazing.

AL Rookie of the Year
1. Mike Trout
2. Yu Darvish
3. Yoenis Cespedes
4. Jarrod Parker
5. Tommy Milone

Not only does it have maybe the greatest rookie ever at the top, but the AL class is so very deep. Scott Diamond, Wei-Yin Chen, Will Middlebrooks, Matt Moore, Jose Quintana, Ryan Cook, A.J. Griffin, Manny Machado, Hisashi Iwakuma, Addison Reed, Sean Doolittle and Robbie Ross all made valuable contributions. Jesus Montero still projects very well too, though he was a disappointment this year.

NL MVP
1. Yadier Molina
2. Buster Posey
3. Ryan Braun
4. Andrew McCutchen
5. David Wright
6. Chase Headley
7. Aramis Ramirez
8. Aaron Hill
9. Joey Votto
10. Clayton Kershaw

I’ve flip-flopped a few times here.

Molina is the game’s best defensive catcher, and he started 22 more games behind the plate than Posey did this year. Yeah, he’s the worst hitter of the top six here, but it’s not by all that huge of a margin. He’s 87 points of OPS shy of Posey, 113 points shy of Braun.

One seemingly minor factor that swayed me in the end; Molina somehow hit into just 10 double plays this year. He came in at 21, 27, 19 and 21 the previous four years. It’s really a pretty amazing total given that he’s pretty slow, he hits plenty of grounders and he rarely strikes out. If Molina had made those 10-12 extra outs he usually does on twin-killings, I probably would have gone Posey first.

NL Cy Young
1. Clayton Kershaw
2. R.A. Dickey
3. Johnny Cueto
4. Kris Medlen
5. Matt Cain

I spent pretty much the entire year believing Dickey was the choice here. And he still would have been if Kershaw had succumbed to his hip injury. Kershaw came back and made a couple of more starts, though, and he proved to be the best pitcher. He led in ERA, strikeout ratio and WHIP while pitching just six fewer innings than Dickey. He also faced the tougher schedule. Consider that his opponents OPS was .760, even though quality left-handed hitters often sat out against him. Dickey’s was .750, the lowest mark of the top five pure starters (including Gio Gonzalez, not including Medlen).

As for Medlen, his schedule was the weakest of the bunch. But he was amazing, amassing a 1.57 ERA in 138 innings. I think that’s quite a bit more valuable than what Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman did. I also think it trumps Gio Gonzalez’s performance. Gonzalez gave up 43 additional runs (40 earned) while pitching 61 1/3 innings more innings than Medlen. That’s a 5.87 ERA. In comparison, Medlen allowed 19 more runs (17 earned) in 75 1/3 innings more than Kimbrel pitched. That’s a 2.03 ERA.

NL Rookie of the Year
1. Bryce Harper
2. Wade Miley
3. Norichika Aoki
4. Todd Frazier
5. Wilin Rosario

Miley seemed to have this one in the bag for most of the year, but he went 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA in his final six starts. Harper, meanwhile, hit .330 with seven homers and 27 runs scored in 112 at-bats between September and October. It’s still terribly close, and I’ve gone back and forth on my choice a few times. It’s too bad they can’t tie.

As for Rosario, he was just too sloppy defensively to justify a higher spot. He did lead all major league catchers and rookies in homers, but I think Aoki and Frazier were more valuable this year.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.